One of the most important pieces of information that we at MEARS can render a client on any given game used item is the worksheet. This is like a used automobile 60-point checklist used in evaluating the item that has been submitted with the final grade based on this checklist. This is done in a manor so that each and every piece is evaluated identically with no point missed, hence a uniform method of evaluation for each and every piece. In this article and in the next two articles, I will take each worksheet line by line and explain the manner and significance of each point. One article for bats, jerseys and finally items such as gloves, hats, etc. The following is a formal explanation of the bat worksheet and all points examined.
DATE OF EXAMINATION: this is self-explanatory, we date the sheet on the day it is evaluated.
SUBMITTED BY: this is the person who shipped the item and is being billed for the service. It also affords accountability in that if a submission does not receive a favorable evaluation and the piece turns up in the hobby with a hologram sans a description, we can check to see if the item is being correctly represented and who is responsible.
HOLOGRAM NUMBER: This is important in that each piece receives a MEARS hologram and that number is recorded on the worksheet and this is the number that is permanently recorded in the population report and enables us to search by item number whether the piece is indeed the one recorded.
PLAYERS NAME: Read this title carefully as the title or player name recorded on the top of each sheet is the item that is being evaluated. We evaluate the listed item and then grade it as titled. For instance, if the title reads Mickey Mantle Team Index bat, the final grade relates to this title. If it reads Mickey Mantle Pro model or game bat, then the final grade also reflects that title. This is very important, as the title is the item that is being graded. You can have an A8 index bat or an A8 game bat, the grade will be printed as an A8 so the title is the difference, often measurable in terms of retail value so read title carefully. The MEARS guarantee applies to this title and the following evaluation of the listed item.
STAGE OF CAREER: There are seven boxes, the one pertaining to the item is checked off. They are as follows: PLAYER-COACH-FUNGO-OLD TIMERS-POST CAREER-STORE MODEL-BARNSTORMING. A post 1921 Joe Jackson game bat would be marked BARNSTORMING. A 1950-60 era Mantle game bat would be marked PLAYER. A Post 1960 Jackie Robinson pro model would be marked POST CAREER. If a STORE MODEL, FUNGO, or known COACHES ERA BAT, they will be so marked.
MANUFACTURE: this is the maker of the item such as Hillerich & Bradsby, Adirondack, Spalding, etc.
PROFESSIONAL MODEL CENTER LABEL BAT DATING: Here, each era or spread of label dating such as an H&B 125 model from the 1917-21 era, etc is listed and the appropriate box is checked off once the dating period of the bat is established.
MODEL NUMBER LOCATION: Three boxes are PRE MODEL NUMBER found on all H&B bats prior to 1943. KNOB; found on all H&B bats after 1945 and on all post 1946 Adirondack models. BARREL; found on all H&B bats after 1975 and on all Rawlings model bats. Odd makers such as Sam Bats, Mizuno, Hanna Batrite , etc will have their model numbers found on either the knob or barrel if applicable and will be so marked.
MODEL NUMBER: This is the number found as mentioned above such as M110, K55, S100, 94X, etc.
PLAYERS NAME: Again, rather self-explanatory, the name of the player found stamped or imprinted on the bat.
BAT ISSUED DURING: REGULAR SEASON, WORLD SERIES, ALL STAR, BARNSTORMING, OLD TIMERS, SPRING TRAINING, OR BATTING PRACTICE. Most WORLD SERIES, OLD TIMERS AND ALL STAR bats will be factory stamped as such. BARNSTORMING is a bat not found in records while the player was active in organized baseball. BATTING PRACTICE AND SPRING TRAINING will usually have some id such as BP written on the knob or a bat documented as having entered the hobby having been issued in spring training and not making it to the regular season.
YEAR USED: only marked if it can be dated to a single season.
SPECIAL EVENTS/TEAM MARKINGS: This is where we denote an All Star or World Series stamp, an Old Timers stamp, a specially marked play off bat or a team name on the barrel such as Chicago White Sox.
THE BAT WEIGHS: this is the current recorded weight on a digital scale in ounces.
THE BAT MEASURES: this is the actual length of the recorded bat in inches.
KNOB STYLE: REGULAR, such as a K55 or M110, SMALL such as found on a Paul Waner bat or an H117 Hornsby model, MEDIUM, a not often found category, larger than a K55 but smaller than a Sam Bat Barry Bonds or Hack Wilson model such as a thick knob K44. LARGE would be a Barry Bonds Sam Bat and FLARE would be a Clemente U1, no real knob at all.
KNOB STYLE: (2) STANDARD (smooth knob), HANDTURNED (rasped end) or FACTORY STAMPED (such as a model number stamped on end or as found with markings on Hanna Batrite with 1930 patent date or Zinn Beck or Spalding with their logo)
BARREL STYLE: round, flat or cupped. Again, this is self-explanatory.
WOOD: ASH (most common wood used for bats), WHITE or BLACK HICKORY (found mostly on pre war game bats), MAPLE (recent surge in popularity due to strength of wood and popularized by Barry Bonds) OR BEACHWOOD (almost never found).
FINISH: This is the finish found on the bat such as FLAME BURNED (dark streaks in wood where heat tempered), STANDARD, ROSE (pink color/hue), BLACK LACQUER, NATURAL (finish), TWO TONE (handle and barrel are different finishes), BROWN, and UNFINISHED (no stain or varnish applied).
MATCHES FACTORY RECORDS: Either personal or team/index records as they are found, either specific or as an index team order.
PROVENANCE: This applies to the documented source that is included with the bat submission such as an LOA from a batboy, player, family member, coach, scout, auction, or team.
LOA: Just a line to explain above provenance.
VAULT MARKED: Used by H&B prior to model numbers to record (by placing a stamped letter/number reference on bats returned to the factory) a model returned by a player for duplication or to be added to the Louisville vault/tool room as a model for future bats. May be found on bats other than H&B bats if submitted to H&B.
SIDE WRITTEN: As above, when a bat was returned to H&B prior to model numbers, the player who returned the bat was often recorded in grease pencil on the side of the bat.
LATHE MARKS: Found on the end or ends of a bat as removed from lathe having been hand turned.
PLAYER CHARACTERISTICS: under this heading, the physical use traits are recorded and evaluated such as:
Game use: either light, medium, moderate, heavy, significant, or none. This is based on the event such as regular season or a specific event in which the game use is evaluated. Lighter use is expected on All Star, World Series, or Home Run or Hit bats than is expected on bats used thru out the regular season. (one of the most important features of a worksheet in that points are given based on use)
Ball Marks: these are either the lifted ink marks or round dents caused when the bat meets a high-speed baseball.
Stitch Marks: The actual impressions left on the bat by the seam of the baseball
Bat Rack Marks: The long marks left on the bat having been drawn from a bat rack, either in color such as red or green or long scratches.
Handle Crack: Type and length of crack.
Nails: on barrel or handle.
Deadwood: layering and wood separation due to use and or dryness
Cleat marks: usually sharp pointed dents in the barrel of a game bat such as those made famous by Ty Cobb.
Handle preparation: Handle tape or the remains of such.
Pine Tar: found on the handles of game bats, usually post war bats.
Autographed: by the player or team.
Grain Examination: Swelling (wood swells and is crushed from contact with ball), Scoring (grooves cut in barrel or handle by player for better grip or hitting surface), Boning (signs of the finish of bat being bone rubbed for hardness), checking (surface checking from use or age) and Professional Grade (highest quality wood grain).
PLAYERS UNIFORM NUMBER APPEARS ON KNOB, BARREL OR BOTH: either the player who was issued bat or another player number.
On the back of each worksheet is a large section for comments followed by silhouettes of the front /back and both ends of the bat used to draw in any specific marks or problems. To the right of this area is the explanations as to what points are subtracted from the bat based on problems such as missing pieces, deadwood, chipped knob, gouges, water stains/damage , incorrect player number, no factory records, etc Or, on the plus side, points added for side writing, pinpointed factory records, player specific traits (such as Clemente’s familiar 21, Duke Sniders handle tape), All Star and World Series marked bats, Photographic evidence, vault marks, or shipping labels.
This is the final arrangement of numbers given and added up for the end score or grade based on the base grade of +5 for a factory recorded bat with points added based on use (light +1, Medium +2, or Heavy +3), then additional points added or subtracted based on attributes or negatives. This results in the final grade of the listed item. This final grade reflects the attributes of the titled and evaluated item and shows one exactly how the overall grade was tallied . It is then signed by the person or persons reviewing the bat.
I hope this helps eliminate any confusion as to how the worksheet is used. We are currently upgrading the 2006 worksheets to cover even more minutia and to further clarify each and every aspect of the grading and evaluation process. If you have any input, favorable or otherwise, we are always willing to consider well thought out ideas on how to improve what we feel is the best system for evaluating game used equipment. Until next time, David Bushing