Building a solid reference library is not cheap and I can personally attest to this. I have spent far more on references than I have made as hobby/industry entity. As someone who has spent tens of thousands of my own dollars buying flannels, vintage fabric sample catalogs, knit jerseys, Mitchell & Ness replicas, yearbooks, scrapbooks, print publications, wire photos, film references etc… I know and understand the cost. As a collector and as someone who offers opinions on items, I also know and understand their value. For baseball knits, I would have to say that Street & Smith Yearbooks from the 1970s and 1980s are an essential for looking at uniforms from this period. These publications not only are invaluable in doing the work, but they are also of great benefit in helping locate and obtain affordable on-hand exemplars.
I recently added these three jerseys to my exemplar library. They were bought off E-Bay for an average price of around $185.00 apiece. If you had been looking at these uniforms while they were listed and then gone to check on-line team roster references, you would not have found these players listed. If you had gone to period Street & Smith Yearbooks, these uniforms may have made a little more sense. For many of you, your interest in these jerseys may not have changed. But if you were looking for period styles or commons to use in shaping your star and Hall of Famer knit purchase decisions then you may have seen them in a different light as I did.
When you factor in the uniform cost and the price of a Street & Smith Yearbook for the year in question, these jerseys are still priced below the cost of a modern throwback of the same style. Of course I know they are only team issued and or spring training jerseys, but the value is more than there as far as I am concerned. Despite being a part of the “industry” for some time now, I am and always will be first and foremost a style collector and researcher. If you are neither of these, but want to bill yourself (literally and figuratively) as someone who offers opinions on items, in my mind the only way the hobby/industry should accept your work is if it is based an objective and reasoned opinion that is grounded in both process and product that the collector can reference and evaluate for themselves.
BLUF: (Bottom Line Up Front)
For the Authenticator: If you’re not willing to invest the time and money to do credible work, then don’t do it.
For the Collector: If you chose to have these individuals look at your items based on low price alone, then lower your expectations about what you are getting and why.
By investing about $15 in Street & Smith Yearbooks for these years, this is what I was able to buy and feel comfortable in doing so:
1985 San Diego Padres Road Jersey:
-First Year Style
-Use in comparison to Tony Gwynn (HOF), Goose Gossage (HOF)
-Period Wilson Product
1986 Milwaukee Brewers Road Jersey:
-One Year “Sully Patch”
-Use in comparison to Robin Yount (HOF), Paul Molitor (HOF)
-Period Sand Knit Product
1987 Oakland A’s Home Jersey:
-One year All Star Game Patch
-Use in comparison to Reggie Jackson (HOF), Dennis Eckersley (HOF)
-Period Rawlings Product
I was happy with these purchases because I was comfortable with what I was getting at the price I was willing to pay. I suspect these are the same things you are looking to be able to say about the purchases you make. I hear the phrase “do your own homework” bantered around with great regularity and it is one I embrace on both a personal and professional level. As you shape and build your collection, please take some time to consider what it takes to do this confidently on an individual/personnel level as well as how you decide on who to turn to when seeking outside assistance.
As always, collect what you enjoy and enjoy what you collect.
MEARS Auth, LLC
For questions or comments on this article,please feel free to drop me a line at DaveGrob1@aol.com