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<p>MEARS is an acronym that stands for <strong>M</strong>emorabilia <strong>E</strong>valuation <strong>a</strong>nd<strong>R</strong>esearch <strong>S</strong>ervices. In my mind, the words Evaluation and Research must go hand in hand. Nothing grates on me more than to see an evaluation or Letter of Opinion on an item that is simply a regurgitation of the physical description/ characteristics and a photograph of the item in question; and yes this becomes even more irritating on those occasions when I have seen a MEARS evaluation done do this standard. Enough of the soup box lecture, let’s get the heart of the issue for today. <br /><br />I recently completed the evaluation of a 1966 Dennis Ribant New York Mets road jersey. This was enjoyable in its own right based on the overall rarity of Mets flannels in general and even more so to finds one in such stellar all original condition. The jersey was problem free and gorgeous…an easy case made for a final grade of A10 as a Ribant offering. The collector submitting this jersey also provided MEARS with a research question in addition to his request to have the jersey evaluated and graded. <br /><br /><strong>Research Question:</strong> <em>Could this 1966 New York Mets road jersey bearing the #30 have been worn by Nolan Ryan in 1967?</em><br /><br />For this to be the case, evidence would have to strongly suggest that there was both reason and cause for why this jersey, bearing the #30 was carried over from 1966 and issued to Nolan Ryan at the exclusion of other players and or why a new uniform was not ordered for him in 1967. For example, Dick Selma is also listed in <em>Baseball by the Numbers</em> to have been issued #30 in 1967 as well. MEARS gladly took him up on his question as this would be a tremendous research opportunity and it would go a long way to prove my point about the necessary and often valuable relationship between evaluations and research. <br /><br /><strong>Survey of Contemporary Data Sources.</strong> <br /><br />When dealing with issues of this nature, it is always best to consult period/contemporary sources of data/information. The 1966 Street &amp; Smith Yearbook contains no entry for Nolan Ryan. It does however contain entries for: <br /><br />#30, Dennis Ribant: 5’,11”; 175lbs<br /><br />#39, Dick Selma: 5’,11”; 165lbs<br /><br />*Ribant was traded by the Mets to the Pittsburgh Pirates on 6 December 1966 after appearing in 39 games for the New York Mets in 1966. <br /><br />The 1967 Street and Smith Yearbook contains entries for both Nolan Ryan and Dick Selma: <br /><br />#34, Nolan Ryan: 6’,2”; 165lbs<br /><br />#39, Dick Selma: 5’,11”; 165lbs<br /><br /><strong>NOTE:</strong> No player is rostered with the #30 in this publication. This is important to note since team orders are typically found to coincide with early/spring training data to facilitate ordering uniforms in time for the regular season. <br /><br />5x <strong>1967 Mets Spring Training</strong> Scorecards Examined: No listing for either Ryan or Selma. No #30 on the roster. (These all only feature games against the St. Louis Cardinals) <br /><br />3X <strong>April 1967</strong> Score Cards Examined. (3xMets) Roster as of 4 April shows no Nolan Ryan and Dick Selma is listed as #39. No # 30 number listed. <br /><br />9x <strong>May 1967</strong> Score Cards Examined (7 Mets, 1x Astros, 1x Cardinals). Shows no Nolan Ryan and Dick Selma is listed as #39. No # 30 number listed. <br /><br /><strong>NOTE:</strong> 6 June 1967; Anderson Herald “Mets Put Caldwell on Disabled List; Recall Dick Selma” <br /><br />6x <strong>June 1967</strong> Score Cards Examined (4 Mets, 1x Astros, 1x Pirates) Shows no Nolan Ryan and Dick Selma is listed as #39. No # 30 number listed. <br /><br />15x <strong>July 1967</strong> Score Cards Examined (8 Mets, 1x Reds, 3x Cardinals, 3x Astros) Shows no Nolan Ryan and Dick Selma is listed as #39. No # 30 number listed. <br /><br />8x <strong>August 1967</strong> Score Cards Examined (6 Mets, 2x Cardinals) Shows no Nolan Ryan and Dick Selma is listed as #39. No # 30 number listed.<br /><br /><strong>NOTE:</strong> NY Times article of 29 August 1967 announces that <em>“13 Farmhands Recalled”</em> by the New York Mets as part of the September roster expansion. One of the players listed is Nolan Ryan.<br /><br />11x <strong>September 1967</strong> Score Cards Examined (7 Mets, 2x Cubs, 1x Dodgers, 1x Astros). Nolan Ryan is shown is all but the Cubs Scorecards (1-4 September) as wearing #30 and Dick Selma is listed as #39.<br /><br />Contrary to the entry in <em>Baseball by the Numbers</em>, the survey of Contemporary Data Sources suggests that Dick Selma did not wear #30 in 1967 and the only player who did for the Mets that year was Nolan Ryan. <br /><br />What this information suggests to me is that the New York Mets had no reason to have ordered a uniform for #30 at the start of the 1967 season. Ryan’s #34 from the 1966 season was not available for issuance to him in September of 1967 because it was already assigned to Cal Koonce by this time. <br /><br />This leaves three possibilities to put Nolan Ryan in a Mets uniform bearing the #30 for the close of the 1967 season: <br /><br /><strong>Option 1:</strong> Nolan Ryan was issued new uniforms bearing the #30 as ordered by the New York Mets at that time for him along with the other 12 players recalled by the Mets as part of the September call up. <br /><br /><strong>OR</strong><br /><br /><strong>Option 2:</strong> A previously ordered properly sized uniform was renumbered for Ryan’s use. <br /><br /><strong>OR</strong><br /><br /><strong>Option 3:</strong> Nolan Ryan was issued uniforms bearing the #30 from a previous season as it was both a size suitable for him and in a number that was available at the time. <br /><br />I have found nothing in my research or study of major league uniforms from this period to suggest that special orders of uniforms for late season roster expansion were to be expected. While many clubs did order new uniforms for the post season, accommodating minor leaguers to the ball club was probably not a cost effective pursuit. In addition, I have common NY Mets flannel uniforms in my on hand exemplar library (both home and road) that indicate the Mets made extended use of previously purchased product: <br /><br />-Exemplar #1: 1962 New York Mets Home jersey bearing the 1964 World’s Fair Patch. <br /><br />-Exemplar #2: 1964 New York Mets Road jersey with number change and number added to the front of the jersey for the 1965 season. <br /><br />Since I don’t know in any definitive manner what the New York Mets ordering protocols were for late season roster expansion, I thought it might be productive to see if there were any trends in this area that might indicate a commonly preferred practice by other teams that might provide some insights in the area. The idea being at that at least there might be a trend that would support what appears to the Mets preference of cost savings in the area of uniforms, especially with respect to September roster expansions. Once again, it is always best to refer to contemporary/period data when it is available. Because hard data on team ordering is almost impossible to come by, I posed this question to Mr. Lon Lewis, a person possessing team order sheets from various major league clubs (Mets not included) from 1960s and 1970s. Specifically,
I asked Mr. Lewis <em>“Is there anything in your McAuliffe ordering records to indicate that teams from the 1960s made special or additional orders of uniforms to accommodate late season September call ups?”</em> Mr. Lewis was gracious enough to inform me that <em>“there is nothing to indicate that any team would have a September call up order. Teams would order their uniforms during spring training”.</em> <br /><br />Given that the Mets were known to have made extended use of previously purchased product and that the trend among clubs outfitted at least by McAuliffe (many whose bottom line was stronger than the New Mets), I would consider it highly unlikely that the New York Mets made a special order in September of 1967 to outfit Nolan Ryan with new uniforms bearing the #30. Since we also know that the #30 was available and in an appropriate size for Ryan (1966 Dennis Ribant), then it makes little sense for the Mets to have expended the time and resources to modify a previously purchased product when they would have already been in possession of a suitable and viable alternative by both size and uniform number. This leaves us with option #3: Nolan Ryan was issued uniforms bearing the #30 from a previous season as it was both a size suitable for him and in a number that was available at the time. <br /><br />Since we have already established that the #30 does not appear to have been a uniform number the Mets would have reason or cause to order at the start of the 1967 season, then this leaves us going back to the 1966 inventory (Dennis Ribant) to obtain suitable sized and numbered product for Nolan Ryan in September of 1967. We can objectively see by way of period sizing data and roster information: <br /><br />-1966 Street &amp; Smith Yearbook: #30, Dennis Ribant: 5’,11”; 175lbs<br /><br />-1966 New York Mets Team Yearbook: #30, Dennis Ribant: 5’,11”; 175lbs<br /><br />-1967 Street &amp; Smith Yearbook: Nolan Ryan: 6’,2”; 165lbs<br /><br />-1967 Survey of New York Mets Score Cards: #30 Nolan Ryan and only Nolan Ryan<br /><br />What seems to further support the premise that Ryan wore this jersey in 1967 and the fact that Mets retained product for extended organizational wear is a photograph of Nolan Ryan from 16 March 1968. Visual reference of the offered jersey with the one worn by Ryan in that photograph reveals a positive <strong>(But Not Exact)</strong>comparison with respect to various aspects of placement and alignment of the lettering and numbering on the front of the jersey with the button line, placket soutahce and between the letters and numbers themselves. There is more than ample photographic evidence to confirm that teams wore the previous season’s uniforms in spring training of the subsequent year. In other words, if no #30 uniform was ordered for Ryan when he was called up in 1967, then we should expect to see him the same uniforms he wore in 1967 if no roster number change was executed by the Mets. This photograph from March 1968 appears to support this as well. <br /><br />It is my opinion that it appears far more likely that the New York Mets outfitted Nolan Ryan with carryover uniforms from 1966 when he was called up in September of 1967 rather than having ordered them for him at that time. This is opinion is based on a survey of contemporary team publications, ordering trends of other period major league clubs, inventory utilization patterns of the New York Mets as seen through common on-hand exemplars, and photographic evidence.; in short an informed opinion based on research. Combine all of this with the issues of size and uniform number availability at time of the requirement for issuance and I feel this uniform may be reasonably and objectively attributed to Nolan Ryan for use and wear during the end of the 1967 season and the subsequent spring training of 1968. <br /><br />Will all of what I have just laid out fit neatly on a one page LOA/LOO with a physical description and a picture? It most certainly will not. But then again if the supporting research on an item like this will, then can you really call it an objectively researched evaluation that has any value in supporting the opinion offered? Rhetorical questions here folks… <br /><br />As always, collect what you enjoy and enjoy what you collect. <br /><br />MEARS Auth, LLC<br /><br />For questions and comments on this article, please feel free to drop me a line at DaveGrob1@aol.com<br /><br /><strong>POST SCRIPT:</strong> The information presented in this article is separate from the comments provided as part of the baseline evaluation of the jersey as a 1966 Dennis Ribant New York Mets road jersey. The PLATE showing the Wilson manufacturers tag and supplemental set/year tagging is provided from that evaluation for your reference. This aspect and others are fully explained in the comments for that related effort.</p>