And yes, there is Trouble At MEARS, but it should be gone by morning after a good night sleep and some home cooking. I am a bit tired from setting up in at the Chicago PCCE, standing on hard floors since Wednesday, sleeping in over-starched sheets, and eating convention food, but other than that, things couldn’t be better. Our pinback button holders were met with great fanfair and the comments I heard from attendees at the show about the direction of MEARS was quite positive.
Anytime MEARS becomes the subject of criticism on public message boards, we examine what is being discussed and look to see if there is any merit. With the case of the Krausse jersey owned by both Dave Bushing and myself in the current REA auction, the issue of a stain has become an issue. While addressing how the grading criteria is interpreted in the matter of staining, it also gives me a chance to emphasize the systems of checks and balances MEARS has in place to address these issues and create safeguards to create accountability to the collecting public. Collectors may not agree with the practice of authenticators buying and selling, but with MEARS, you know exactly when the practice occurs and what we said about each item. You may not agree with what we said, but we can give examples of the consistent application of our grading to items not owned by MEARS members. Again, you may disagree with how we graded your item, but I will illustrate that there was no favorable bias toward Bushing/Kinunen owned items. And upon review, the MEARS system successfully addressed the needs of the collecting hobby. Due to the measures pioneered by MEARS, we were able to:
1. Clearly identify items that were evaluated by members of MEARS in a current auction. The item was clearly marked in the auction, as an item that was both owned an evaluated by a MEARS member. No other authenticators in the industry (who buy & sell) offer the same full disclosure
2. Allow collectors to review items that were posted for sale in the MEARS For Sale site. The Krause jersey was posted for sale on the MEARS For Sale site. Upon its sale, it will be posted in our archive section. This creates a public record, which allows for a continued review of what we said about the item.
3. Allow a review of all graded items by MEARS due to the items archived in our database. With the creation of MEARSONLINE, we are able to review all opinion letters, which we have produced.
No other evaluation service hosts this much information to allow collectors the chance of a formal review. Collector Mark Wiemerskirch has selectively referenced some of the data himself on his bulletin board post.
Background of Mark Wiemerskirch post can be found at this link, http://www.gameuseduniverse.com/vb_forum/showthread.php?t=15941
The subject was first brought to my attention in a private email sent to me by Mark Weimerskirch regarding his 1974 A’s Rollie Fingers jersey, which he wanted to discuss having the grade, increased. He purchased the jersey in an auction about 2 years ago. MEARS authenticated the jersey for that auction house. We have spoken numerous times since the long ago auction that he won the jersey, but never once did he mention his displeasure with the grade. The fact that two years later he brings it up caught me off guard especially since he has been so vocal about his difference with MEARS, Dave Mediema, Bushing, and our evaluations of A’s jerseys. Mark has a very long memory as he has repeatedly discussed the Reggie Jackson jersey our own Dave Medieama evaluated about 15 years ago, before his association with MEARS. Dave gave a stinker of an opinion on that one. I have read about the instance numerous times, even after we had satisfactorily agreed that the matter was closed. Mark repeatedly brought issues with A’s evaluations to my attention, but the grading of the Fingers jersey just wasn’t mentioned.
He has publicly listed our mistakes on numerous occasions, but did not feel to include this as one them until recently when his jersey did not warrant an upgrade. I am not sure why his disagreement with the grade has recently come to light. He has never relayed to me the reason for his decision to have the jersey re-evaluated. I have had similar requests in the past when an owner of a jersey is attempting to sell a jersey from their inventory and the higher grade will increase the market value of the item, but the exact reason Mark did not share with me. He has posted our private email responses on GUF regarding his thoughts on the MEARS grading of his jersey only recently. Mark is recognized as an authority on A’s jerseys. I have never personally met him, but he is also an individual that I would ask for advice Oakland A’s jerseys or even bagels. I can’t image why we never discussed the Fingers jersey in the past.
To me it seems quite coincidental that only after ruling that we would not increase the grade on his Fingers jersey did he decide to take this issue public. Mark and I had specific emails regarding the Krausse jersey
several months ago and the stain was never mentioned. Mark did not state any objection to the MEARS A10 grade during our initial conversations. After seeing that Dave Bushing bought the Krausse jersey and posted it on the MEARS For Sale site for $2,000, Mark asked us if we were interested in purchasing any of his inventory. The jersey in its same current state (with stain) was posted with photos showing the stain on the MEARS For Sale site. Mark saw the jersey, photographed in its current state, on our For Sale site. Mark never mentioned an issue with the stain or grade assigned. The exact same photo of the Krausse jersey Mark referenced is still posted on the MEARS For Sale site. After its sale, it will be archived on the MEARS For Sale site in the public archived section. With this much public disclosure, MEARS is very aware of the consequences of accurately grading items owned by our authenticators.
When initially speaking with Mark, I did not notice the stain. Now with it being brought to my attention, it is quite obvious that a stain is there. It is located between the lines of the button patch, in an area approximately 2” wide and about the same size as the McAuliffe tag. Plus, the stain is a dirt type stain. Not all stains are equal. We have seen stains caused by paint, ink, wine, rust, water, mold, coffee, and other stains, which caused discoloration of the fabric. This was not a stain similar in severity to the previous mentioned problems. Yes, upon review this is a stain, but it just didn’t look like any of the non-game worn stains mentioned above. This stain was consistent with game use, not abuse.
At no time when Mark was trying to sell us his inventory of A’s jerseys did he mention the fact that he took issue with the grade and the stain. Only after I did not feel that his Rollie Fingers jersey warranted a grade increase did the stain and the public declaration occur. Maybe Mark was just busy when he was trying to sell his jersey and did not take the time to forward me his concerns. Looking back, I wish he would have, as the offer to sell his inventory took place well before we consigned the jersey to REA. It is not Mark’s responsibility to bring issues of staining to our attention, but if he had, it definitely would have given us the chance to re-evaluate the grade and maybe this issue of the stain could have been avoided.
The MEARS grading attempts to remove as much subjectivity as possible from the evaluation process. Tagging, lettering, tagging and measurements are not open for debate. They are jersey features which can be recorded with certainty. Issues such as wear, tears, holes, and staining and the range of point subtractions are open to interpretation by the grader. The stain that Mark brought to public light is an instance where subjectivity is present, but from Dave Bushing perspective, the evaluation of the stain was consistent with other jerseys he evaluated, (THAT HE DID NOT OWN). Examples include:
1953 Dale Mitchell Cleveland Indians Home Jersey MEARS #307573, His comment section reads, “…all original. little aging to material with no holes/tears. First Dale Mitchell we have seen.” A10
1963 Stu Miller Baltimore Orioles Road Jersey MEARS #304007 “Exhibits some light staining. Light wear to numerals on back (no points taken). “ A10
1953 Mickey McDermott Boston Red Sox Road Jersey MEARS #307582 (photo shows evident toning of fabric near belt line) A10
1970 Mike Kekich New York Yankees Home Jersey MEARS #303638 (photo shows evident toning of fabric near belt line) A10
1977 Jerry Hairston Pittsburgh Pirates Home Jersey MEARS #303913 A10 (Comments
Jersey has minor spotting (no points taken). Jersey style photo matched — Dressed to the Nines.)A10
These are examples where MEARS did not subtract points for stains of examined jerseys. The above examples are found with remarks in the comment sections. Others exist where the staining or toning is present, and did not photograph well and the degree was lesser and no comment was listed in the remarks section. Again, the deduction of points is more severe for staining, usually associated with stains caused by paint, ink, wine, rust, water, mold, coffee, and other stains which caused severe discoloration of the fabric. Typically, MEARS do not subtract for stains that are most often associated with game wear.
Since this has become a point of contention, by months end I will post language on the MEARS grading criteria to better address the definition of stains and the points subtracted by degree. Beside the issue of the stain, it might now be appropriate to address the application of the term “light use” to game worn jerseys. Currently we have applied light use in two ways. The first is “light use” with no points taken. This is one designation, which may fall within the optimal use range. The second is “light use, -2 two” Technically, we would have the option of applying light use minus one if the situation presented itself. The subtractions are often awarded at the discretion of our evaluators, but in the future, we will better define the applications.
By our definition of the MEARS A10:
A10 Manufactures characteristics of the jersey have been compared to known authentic examples and exactly match tagging, lettering, numbering, size, patches and/or memorial bands, materials, style, buttons, zipper, etc. Each piece is also evaluated on the degree of evident use and wear, which must be consistent with that of the player, sport, position, field of play, and duration of use. No negative traits can be found to receive this grade. The jersey must be complete, unaltered, all original, and show optimal wear while remaining in the same condition as last worn by player.
The debate has been created over our assignment of the term light. In our official definition of A10, we use the word optimal. This word was chosen as a jersey can maintain a range of wear, from light to heavy, and still be assigned the A10 grade. The range of wear changes by sport, material (flannel vs. knit) and position of player. Dave Bushing has evaluated 1,000’s of jerseys and is the foremost authority on the evaluation of game wear. On the official MEARS worksheet, the choices of wear are minimal, light, moderate/heavy, and excessive. Upon the discussion of the current use by MEARS evaluators of the word choice for wear, in the future we may be able to further clarify the use choices. When the worksheet was designed, it was created to encompass all three sports. Therefore, the use of the phrase heavy has one connotation for football, and a more severe connotation for baseball. In Dave Bushing’s application of the worksheet, he applies the choice of Light Use for baseball jerseys, which exhibit “good and consistent wear”. He explained to me that a baseball jersey classified as Heavy wear begins to too closely border on excessive, which for baseball, can sometimes be associated with two player worn jerseys or jerseys that were sent to the minor league. Now football collectors would be quick to dismiss a jersey that exhibited light wear and will only collect examples having heavy wear. In Dave Bushing’s expert opinion, light is the appropriate choice on the worksheet when a jersey exhibits optimal game wear.
Again, this will serve as an opportunity to further classify the definitions of use and how it applies to the MEARS grading system. Again, by month’s end I will update the language on the MEARS official grading criteria and post the updates on the MEARS bulletin board.
To illustrate this, below please find 19 random baseball jerseys which were graded MEARS A10 and were listed with having light use. Upon review of the MEARS records, approximately 50+ additional jerseys were graded A10 and assigned as having moderate game wear. The difference between light and moderate is very minute and upon the re-evaluation of the approximate 85 examined MEARS A10 jerseys; the use category could be interpreted by different evaluators as light for some of them, moderate for others. But, in 100% of he cases, all of the jerseys still warranted the grade of MEARS A10, as they matched the definition of having optimal wear and matched all of the other criteria of the grade. Examples for your review are:
Light use jerseys grading MEARS A10
1987 Dwayne Murphy Oakland Athletics Road Jersey MEARS #304742 (Light Use)
1987 Mark Knudson Brewers road jersey MEARS #257002 (Light Use)
1948 Charlie Grimm Chicago Cubs Home Jersey MEARS #259282 (Light Use)
1955 Johnny Antonelli New York Giants Home Jersey MEARS #306326 (Light Use)
1956 Gail Harris New York Giants Road Jersey MEARS # 257160 (Light Use)
1956 Gail Harris New York Giants Road Jersey MEARS #257160(Light Use)
1962 New York Mets Road Jersey Attributed to Sherman Jones MEARS #303940 (Light Use)
1965 Dave Adlesh Houston Astros Road Jersey w/pants MEARS #300987 (Light Use)
1965 Sherm Lollar Baltimore Orioles Home Jersey MEARS #305537 (Light Use)
1965 Dick Stuart Philadelphia Phillies Home Jersey MEARS # 306204 (Light Use)
1966 Bob Miller Los Angeles Dodgers Home Jersey MEARS #302958 (Light Use)
1967 Jim Palmer Baltimore Orioles Home Jersey MEARS #303785 (Light Use)
1967 Jim Hibbs California Angels Road Jersey MEARS #252226 (Light Use)
1968 Jophery Brown Chicago Cubs Road Jersey MEARS #307685 (Light Use)
1968 Reggie Jackson A’s Alternate Jersey MEARS #251455 (Light Use)
1968 Elrod Hendricks Baltimore Orioles Road Jersey MEARS #258205 (Light Use)
1969 Sammy Ellis Chicago White Sox Home Jersey MEARS #300956 (Light Use)
1970 Rusty Staub Montreal Expos Road Jersey MEARS #305645 (Light Use)
1974 Boog Powell Baltimore Orioles Road Jersey MEARS #303278 (Light Use)
Although the above 19 jerseys could have been evaluated as moderate, and that some of the additional 85 jerseys currently graded as moderate may be evaluated by some as light use, NONE of the jersey were graded with the intention to inflate grades to profit on items owned by Dave Bushing. The system, methods, and standards applied by Dave Bushing on his own items are documented above to be applied to other items submitted to be evaluated by MEARS.
Now, with specific reference to the grade assigned to the 1974 Rollie Fingers jersey owned by collector
Mark Weimerskirch, please note that his McAuliffe manufactured jersey, which was assigned the grade of A8, was consistent with 9 other McAuliffe supplied jerseys evaluated by MEARS. I have listed them below, and all were assigned the degree of wear as light, -2 points. As evaluators, we found a trend for these McAuliffe supplied jerseys to exhibit a degree of wear significantly and noticeably less than other jerseys evaluated by MEARS which were issued during the relatively same time span. Now, we did not issue blanketed A8 grades on all A’s McAuliffe supplied jerseysonly, as the complete list of teams include:
1973 Carl Yastrzemski Boston Red Sox Road Jersey A8 McAuliffe 306194
1973 Rollie Fingers Oakland A’s Road A8 McAuliffe 258557
1973 Nolan Ryan California Angels Home A8 McAuliffe 300692
1973 Nolan Ryan California Angels Home A7 McAuliffe 303035
1974 Nolan Ryan California Angels Road A3 McAuliffe 305669
1974 Rollie Fingers Oakland A’s Alternate A8 McAuliffe 302227
1974 Reggie Jackson Oakland A’s Road A8 McAuliffe 301021
1975 Carlton Fisk Boston Red Sox Home A8 McAuliffe 100037
1975 Reggie Jackson Oakland A’s Alternate A8 McAuliffe 300254
1976 Carl Yastrzemski Boston Red Sox Home A8 Tim McAuliffe 302591
Also, there was no predetermined biased against 1970s McAuliffe jerseys as 10 examples in the MEARS database that graded higher.
All of the above jerseys were graded as light use, minus 2. Now, the confusion has been created by the application of the Light Use (no points taken) vs. Light Use (minus 2). In the future, we will add a minus 2 icon next to the term minimal use on our worksheet, and any jersey not matching the standards of light use will be designated as minimal use, minus 2.
Finally, with respects to the “STAIN”, I am downgrading the Krausse jersey to an A9.5. The stain is consistent with other A10 examples we have graded, but due to the strength of the stain and the forward positioning, the downgrade will be applied.
Troy R. Kinunen