It would be great for all of us if manufacturers and club house personnel worked much in the same way as many units I have been in. Because of the nature of what certain military units do, uniformity is essential. All equipment is labeled and packed the exact same way by each member of the unit to facilitate things like finding ammunition and other essentials at night or in combat. Although sporting events have been described as “battles” or “wars”, trust me…there is no comparison.

My point being, that there are variations and are always likely to be. This very brief article was prompted by an e-mail I received from a collector about a Cincinnati Reds batting helmet from the late 1990s. He was looking to make a purchase of one, but was hesitant because the player’s name strip “is not like mine.” He asked me where the name tape strip should be on the back of the helmet as his was above the ABC sticker. Although I am not sure how much good I did him, but I sent him this picture that shows at least for one day in 1997, the labels could be found above, below, to the right, and to the left of the ABC sticker.

When I consider variations, I tend to look at them within the context of the entirety of what I am looking at as well as the nature of the variation. I ask myself if I have seen this sort of thing before and under what circumstances. The only advice I can offer collectors is to broaden your scope of what you look at. Team and player specific collectors have a tougher time in some respects as their scope is very narrow. If your player stayed with the same club for their entire career (I know, doesn’t happen that often), then you are not likely to see variations that can occur from a manufactures perspective as seen in other team products. Some collectors will baulk on how a number or other annotations are recorded on a bat. If you go back and look at some of the other articles I have written, these too can be seen.

In the end you have to be comfortable with what you are buying. However, don’t allow yourself to talk yourself into a piece. This too is something I saw this past week. I provided a collector with very specific information about a player’s bat by year, model, finish and length that was only ordered once. The issue was the bat was attributed to a particular home run. The problem was the home run was hit before the order of the bat….and yep…he bought the bat and now feels he might have paid too much for it. For the record, the bat in question was not purchased from anyone associated with MEARS nor was MEARS asked to look at the bat. I provided the answer based on an e-mail I was sent by the collector.

As always, collect what you enjoy and enjoy what you collect.


For questions or comments on this article, please feel free to drop me a line at