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MEARS

Memorabilia Evaluation
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MEARS Bat Grading & Authentication Criteria

MEARS evaluates game-used bats based on a 1-10 grading scale. Points are assigned for attributes such as manufacturer characteristics (factory production details) and player characteristics (player traits), points can also be subtracted for detrimental aspects such as after market factory stampings, non-player trait alterations, damage, etc… Further detailed evaluation criteria for each grade are listed below:

A10: 100% Documented and Authenticated Bat

Factory production details of the bat have been compared to known records and have been determined to match recorded length (+/- 1/4"), weight (+/- 1 to 4 ounces), model, and correspond with proper labeling period from point in examined players career. (criteria met, base grade of +5 points awarded)

Use characteristics & player traits have been examined and optimal signs of player use and other combined known traits of the player are present. The bats overall appearance remains unchanged since last used by said player. (optimal use +3 points awarded)

Player traits that are unique and specific to examined player are present. Examples include documented player uniform numbers found on knob, vintage autographs, or pine tar or handle tape patterns specific to examined player are evident and documented. Add up to 2 full points for bats that exhibit a preponderance of traits specifically attributed to a certain player. This occurs when known specific player characteristics are abundant and easily identifiable. An example would be a pre-1921 Babe Ruth bat, with matching factory records, weighing 40+ ounces, measuring 36" and has the flattened hitting surface above the barrel signature stampings, which are documented to known Babe Ruth game used bats. Additional examples would be Duke Snider's crisscross tape pattern, which is exclusive to Snider, or a Ty Cobb bat with 34 ½" exact length with taped handle.

Verifiable and supportable documentation comes in the form of side writing, vault marking, or indisputable letter of provenance (unbroken/ traceable chain of ownership). Documentation may be in the form of certifiable team letter, indisputable exact match photographic evidence, Major League sanctioned letter, scout/Major League employee letter, teammate, family member/spouse, coach, umpire, executive, or an accumulation of vintage characteristics unique to that particular player which are present and easily distinguishable. (verifiable documentation or unique known player-specific traits +2)

A bat being graded A10 matches known factory production details, exhibits significant signs of player use, has unquestionable provenance or an abundance of unique and player specific traits in combination with manufacturer's characteristics proving that the bat could only have been used by the examined player.

A9: Strongly Documented and Authenticated Bat

Factory production details of the bat have been compared to known records and have been determined to match recorded length (+/- 1/4"), weight (+/- 1 to 4 ounces), model, and correspond with proper labeling period from point in examined players career. (criteria met, base grade of +5 points awarded)

Use characteristics & player traits have been examined and optimal signs of player use and other combined known traits of the player are present. (Use grade +3)

The bats overall appearance remains unchanged since last used by said player. Player traits that are unique and specific to examined player are present. Examples include documented player uniform numbers found on knob, vintage autographs, or pine tar or handle tape patterns specific to the examined player is evident and documented.

A bat being graded A9 matches known factory production details, exhibits significant signs of player use, and may have provenance or documented player specific traits. A subtraction of not one more point may be present. (1 additional point)

A8: Authenticated Bat with Heavy Use and Multiple Player Characteristics Present

Factory production details of the bat have been compared to known records and have been determined to match recorded length (+/- 1/4"), weight (+/- 1 to 4 ounces), model, and correspond with proper labeling period from point in examined players career. (When dealing with Pre-1930 Louisville Slugger bats, since the records are incomplete, the manufactures characteristics will be evaluated against known documented examples such as side written, vault marked, photographically documented, or via verified player testimony. Use will be evaluated independently. All Star / World Series bats start at A8 due to uniqueness of bat).(criteria met, base grade of +5 points awarded)

Use characteristics & player traits have been examined and significant signs of player use and other combined known traits of the player are present. The bat must exhibit heavy use and its overall appearance remains unchanged since last used by said player. Player traits are examined and found to be present. Examples include player uniform numbers found on knob, autographs, or pine tar or handle tape patterns specific to examined player are evident and documented. (Use grade +3)

Note: Team / Index bats are graded like bats found in the player records when length, model and weights are listed. In cases where length and weights are not listed in the team/index records, bat is examined to player-recorded specifications. In instances where length and/or weight do not match, one point is subtracted for each.

A6 thru A7: Authenticated Bat with Evaluated Use and Noted Player Characteristics

Factory production details of the bat have been compared to known records and have been determined to match recorded length (+/- 1/4"), weight (+/- 1 to 4 ounces), model, and correspond with proper labeling period from point in examined players career. (criteria met, base grade of +5 points awarded)

Use characteristics & player traits have been examined and player use has been found to be light or medium. Player traits may be present but no additional points are awarded. (use grade +1 to 2 points)

(In cases where this grade was obtained because of subtracted points, those reasons will be clearly noted on the "Bat Grading and Authenticating Official Worksheet"). (up to 4 points subtracted for negative use, see negative traits chart below)

A5: Authenticated Bat with Noted Evaluation of Usage and/or Player Characteristics

Factory production details of the bat have been compared to known records and have been determined to match recorded length (+/- 1/4"), weight (+/- 1 to 4 ounces), model, and correspond with proper labeling period from point in examined players career.

Use characteristics & player traits have been examined and bat has been determined to be "from the bat rack" with no visible signs of use. Player traits may be present such as a uniform number, but no additional points are awarded. (In cases where this grade was obtained because of subtracted points, those reasons will be clearly noted on the "Bat Grading and Authenticating Official Worksheet").

In the case of non-traditional manufacturers, there are many documented cases of players using these brands and therefore should be considered professional models. Photographic analysis, based on information examined from the Louisville Slugger vaults, has revealed Major League players use of Hanna Batrite, side written Kren, and Zinn Beck professional model bats.

The exact use may or may not be specifically attributed to an examined player due to incomplete or lack of factory records. When a bat, known to be issued for professional use, but factory records cannot be verified, is assigned the A5 designation, it possesses qualities and physical characteristics of a professional model bat intended for professional use, was issued to professional player or team, or was similar to those models available for retail sale. In these instances, when the player traits of known examples are examined and matched to those of the bat being evaluated, it will receive a grade of A5. Bats that fall into this category include hand turned Hanna Batrite with patent stamp on knob, Zinn Becks, Hillerich & Bradsby 250 models, 40Ks, as well as other professional model bats. Exclusively retail store model bats are never graded by MEARS. (if present, negative-use traits will documented on the "Bat Grading and Authenticating Official Worksheet".)

A1 thru A4: Authenticated Bat with Additional Noted Evaluation of Usage and/or Player and Manufactures Characteristics

Factory production details of the bat are examined and the bat matches recorded length, weight, and model. Use characteristics & player traits are examined. In cases where this grade was obtained because of points subtracted, those reasons will be clearly noted on the "Bat Grading and Authenticating Official Worksheet."

A2: When factory production details of the bat have been compared to known records and player characteristics are present which mirror known specifications for a player and have been determined to have manufacturing characteristics present but cannot be verified via known factory records, the grade of A2 is assigned. (if present, negative-use traits will documented on the "Bat Grading and Authenticating Official Worksheet".)

A1: The grade of A1 is assigned when an authenticated bat from unknown company matching some known player characteristics. This grade is usually assigned for 19th century player bats or professional appearing bats from unknown companies. (if present, negative-use traits will documented on the "Bat Grading and Authenticating Official Worksheet".)

Criteria for Additional Points Awarded or Subtracted

½ to 3 points awarded for the following:

  • Pinpointed factory record (+½)
  • Vintage autograph (+1)
  • Bat exhibits player-specific traits (+½ to 2)
  • Player signed "game used" inscription on bat (+2)
  • All Star / World Series bat (+3 points)
  • Documented uniform number on knob (+1)
  • Side Writing (+2)
  • Vault Marking (+2)
  • Photographic Evidence (+1 to 2)
  • Original shipping label (+1 to 2)
  • Provenance or letter (+1 to 2)

½ to 3 points subtracted for the following:

  • Foil stamping missing/filled in/light (-½ to 2)
  • Light factory stampings (-½ to 2)
  • Missing pieces: % missing determines points subtracted(-½ to 2)
  • Incorrect Player uniform number (-2)
  • Use cannot be attributed to examined player (-½ to 2)
  • Crack affects factory stampings (-½ to 2)
  • Gouging to surface (-½ to 2)
  • Nails/screws not applied by player/ball-boy (-½ to 2)
  • Non-player tape (-½ to 2)
  • Chipped knob (-½ to 2)
  • Water damage (-½ to 2)
  • Team/index bat: model, length, or weight does not match personal records (-1 for each)
  • Pre 1930 H&B: One player traits doesn't match known examples (-1 for each)
  • No factory records, but bat exhibits known player length, weight, or model specifications (-3)
  • After market factory stampings, i.e. YMCA, Batrite Patent stamp, 250 hand turned models, 40k hand turned models-these bats when having specific player traits are considered professional models (-3)
  • "D" series Adirondack bats have been found in dealer catalogs, colleges, and minor leagues. Although, some "D" series have been found in player collections, use for this particular bat in a major league game is not documented. "D" stands for 34" in length (-3).

The YMCA, War Department, and Bat & Ball fund marks on the handle were factory added by H&B. Logo added in support for servicemen during WWI (1917-19). A Hall of Fame player YMCA professional signature model bat was family donated to Cooperstown. Factory records do not exist, therefore, the exact reason for addition of YMCA logo unknown. Photographic image shows YMCA logo on a sidecar of a train with shipment of Louisville Slugger bats being sent to servicemen. The exact markings on the bats sent to the serviceman are unknown, but the logo on the sidecar read YMCA. What the photo established was that Louisville Slugger did support both the YMCA and the U.S. serviceman, but it is undocumented whether or not the bats were stamped with the YMCA logo. There are no known catalogs or factory records showing YMCA logo bats being made available to the general public marked or marked as such for the major leaguers to use. Therefore, bats with the logo may have either been made for the servicemen, or they were issued for Major League players with the logo added to show support for the servicemen. When YMCA bats are examined, they are always of professional grade wood and match an acceptable range of known player specifications. Another fact supporting major league use of these bats is the fact that lesser grade store model bats were being produced by H&B during this time frame. It made economic sense to supply mass quantities of store model bats to troops overseas instead of the higher quality professional grade wood with correct professional style factory stampings of major league bats. Records and catalogs show that during WWII, Hillerich & Bradsby still continued their tradition of supplying troops with bats. These bats were made of lower grade wood and non-professional factory stampings. Bats found with the YMCA are identical to professional model bats from the same era which were known to be used during major league games. Recently a common player, Walter Holke has been examined with the YMCA logo stamping, thus establishing issuance to a non Super Star or Hall of Fame calibre player. Tris Speaker, Eddie Collins and Joe Jackson are other models examined by MEARS from the same label period with the YMCA, War Department, and Bat & Ball fund factory stampings.

250 was the top of the line Louisville Slugger bat. There are documented block letter 250 examples which originated from the Louisville Slugger vaults. 250 models with inch marks could be found in dealer catalogs, this bat does not, therefore is designated as a professional model. Bat has professional grade wood with a hand turned knob, which is most often associated with professional use. Major league use for this particular bat is not documented via provenance or factory records, but it was manufactured from the highest grade of professional wood and consistent in regards to length, weight, and model with a bat that would be used in a major league game. Louisville Slugger factory records from pre-1930 are quite incomplete, but there are some exact factory record references to Hall of Fame players ordering 250 models. Fellow Major Leaguers with Louisville Slugger 250 professional model bats found in their shipping records include Ki Ki Cuyler (order on 4/18/23) and Babe Ruth (order on 8/23/20).

MEARS grading criteria is copy written and patent pending, copyright 2005-2012. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited.

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