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  1. #1

    Tris Speaker Bat - Making It Clear

    It is easy to see that a lot of information has been disseminated regarding this situation. Hopefully, this information is useful to the collecting community and will give them a better understanding of the authentication process and the factors used in determining the likelihood of a bat potentially being game used. If so, I think it would be hard to argue against that being a good thing. However, I also hope it hasn’t confused people about the central issues in this situation that we believe are critical to the collecting community overall and potential buyers of game used items. Thus, I will try to simplify things a bit here so readers can hopefully understand what we believe are the true issues in this matter.

    The Role of the Authenticator

    As I have stated before in a previous thread, I believe the authentication process for game used items should be about helping a potential buyer determine the probability that an item is game used. I have elaborated on this in some detail in the following post:

    http://www.gameuseduniverse.com/vb_forum/showpost.php?p=4370&postcount=10

    As I stated in that post, there are extremely few instances where a buyer can get to 100% certainty. Therefore, the collector must rely on other data to determine the likelihood, or probability, of an item being “game used”. Importantly, all collectors are not the same in regards to what emphasis they place on different data. Some collectors may be more liberal in terms of what data gives them comfort that an item is game used while others may be more conservative in their approach. For example, some collectors are fine with an item’s legitimacy “as long as an authenticator says it’s good” while others prefer to examine all possible data to make their own conclusions.

    Once again, different collectors place different emphasis on different types of data. I, along with the other current owners of this bat, place a great deal of emphasis on the Louisville Slugger “factory records”. Given the MEARS authentication process awarded 5 points in a 10 point scale for this bat “matching factory records”, I think it is fair to say empirically that they consider this an important factor as well. Personally, I think you would be hard-pressed to find any seasoned bat collector who does not place tremendous emphasis on the “factory records”. In fact, here is a quote from a highly-respected, highly-recognized bat expert regarding Vince Malta’s bat player charts (based on Louisville Slugger’s factory records) we currently make available on GUU ““The player charts are the single greatest resource to bat collectors.” Another quote from a vintage bat collector at SCD claimed “The bat records for each player have always been kind of the Holy Grail for bat collectors.” The bottom line is, the “factory records” have always been one of the primary, most reliable data points bat collectors have considered when buying Louisville Slugger bats.

    The Disclosure of Information

    First of all, it is important to understand that when this bat was purchased, the Louisville Slugger “factory records” were not available to us, the buyers, or any other average collector. Fortunately, through the efforts of Vince Malta, that world is now changing. Through the player charts in his new book, the “factory records” will, in effect, be made available to anyone who wants them. However, at the time of the Speaker bat purchase, the collector relied on the authenticator to provide them with that information since the information only resided in the hands of a select few. Further, since the records were perceived to be guarded like the formula for Coca-Cola, collectors entered into a relationship of trust with the authenticator to let them know what the records stated in regards to a specific item. There was no reason to believe this information would be misrepresented or not disclosed in situations where it existed.

    This is where the fundamental problem exists and, for the first time, I think I finally understand why. One of the final factors that drove us to create Game Used Universe was the situation encountered here. As I mentioned, we believe all relevant and pertinent information relating to an item should be disclosed to the potential buyer so they can make a well-informed and educated decision about a “game used” item’s potential legitimacy. In the case of game-used bats, given the monumental importance of “factory records”, when they exist it seems all too obvious that they need to be disclosed to the potential buyer. Unfortunately, this did not happen in this case.

    What we now know

    Before proceeding, let me state here that this is not intended as an attack on MEARS. In fact, and we have stated over and over again that we chose to believe this whole issue centered on an oversight and was not intentional. However, upon further review, I now believe the problem lies in a clear difference of opinion in regards to what MEARS believes they needed to provide the collector and what the collector believes they need from them. As already demonstrated, any information coming directly from Louisville Slugger is critical and pertinent information for collectors to evaluate in the buying process. In this case, there were “factory records” from Louisville Slugger that were applicable to this bat. Anyone wishing to determine if “factory records” do exist in relation to this bat may find it helpful to read the following post entitled “H&B Bat Factory Records – You be The Judge”:

    http://www.gameuseduniverse.com/vb_forum/showthread.php?t=5363

    If these “factory records” had been disclosed in this case, would that have had an affect on the buyers’ purchase decision? Being one of buyers, I can say with absolute certainty that the answer is “Yes”. In fact, the desire to make sure this type of information is disclosed to collectors is one of the reasons Game Used Universe now exists. While not a knock against any organization or individual, we simply believe the collector should have all necessary information available to them so they can make an educated determination of whether or not they are comfortable believing the item was “game used” by a player.

    In this case, Mike Specht has already done an excellent job providing information regarding the Louisville Slugger factory records as they relate to Speaker. In fact, here is a post Mike made a while back that enabled collectors to see exactly what information exists directly from Louisville Slugger:

    http://www.gameuseduniverse.com/vb_forum/showpost.php?p=17755&postcount=16


    Jim Caravello also made a statement that is particularly germane in regards to an evaluation of these records. That is, “These records provide insight, to varying degrees, of individual player's ordering patterns. The closer a bat falls into a player's ordering patterns, the higher the comfort level for the collector. The further it falls away from a player's established patterns, the collector's comfort level diminishes.” In this case, the factory records from that period, while obviously not complete, are so far removed from what Speaker is “known” to order, that we believe it is not likely this bat was used by Speaker.

    In addition to the ledger entries, Vince Malta has personally shown me the factory bat diagrams for Speaker and they were consistently 35”. I actually saw the diagrams with my own eyes. While Jim Caravello has pointed out there apparently may also be one diagrammed at 34”, these lengths are so far removed from the length of the bat in question (32 ¼ inches) that it definitely affects our opinion of Speaker potentially using it. Consider this bat is 1 ¾” less than the shortest known diagram and 2 ¾” less than the typical length diagrammed for Speaker. Is it “possible”? Sure. Is it “probable”? We don’t think so. And that is exactly the point. If this information was disclosed, we never would have touched this bat.

    Until recently, I, for the life of me, couldn’t figure out why the people at MEARS couldn’t admit that their claim this bat was “PRE factory records” was inaccurate and that the records should have been disclosed. However, now I think I understand. The following statement sheds light on the subject:

    MEARS defines factory records as the complete set of records instituted in 1930 and forward also known as the personal player bat records.

    Ledger entries are not known in the industry as "factory records."

    --- Troy Kinunen

    How can the “industry” define what factory records are when only a handful of people had access to them? The average collector has never even seen the records. As per my discussions with Vince Malta and Mike Specht (who were among the handful that had the records), the claim that only post-1930 entries are considered “factory records” is a misrepresentation in their eyes. However, this seems to be the reason MEARS chose not to acknowledge the records or disclose them in the authentication process.

    At the end of the day, it is certainly an interesting exercise to consider what is “possible”. However, as stated above, we feel it is incumbent upon the authenticator to disclose all the relevant information so the collector can decide the risk levels they are comfortable accepting. Said another way, we don’t believe the process should be about conjecture and speculation about what is “possible” but rather the disclosure of relevant and important information to allow the collector to make an informed decision about what is probable. This is especially true when assigned grades give collectors certain assurances to that affect. In this case, if the relevant information regarding the factory records was disclosed, we would never have agreed with the grade and certainly not have purchased the bat.

    Last Word

    I think it is important to clear up one more thing before closing. Troy Kinunen’s post included the following statement, “We feel that only after the bat failed to sell for a profit, the letter was dissected in order to capitalize and exploit the MEARS buy back policy.” I have to say I am saddened by this unfounded accusation which appears to be nothing other than an attempt to unnecessarily discredit us.

    While the market values are really not relevant to the issue at hand, there was a Speaker bat that sold in 2003 for over $20,000. Thus, we had a precedent for what we believe a high grade Speaker bat could sell for, especially at that time when the vintage game used bat market was very strong due to the publicity surrounding the Ruth first Yankee Stadium HR bat. In any event, we think it is irresponsible and unjust to make such a malicious and unwarranted claim. Those who know us well know our uncompromising emphasis on trying to do what is right. We have not speculated on MEARS’ motives in this situation when we could have easily done so and find it disheartening that they have erroneously done so toward us. I would hope any future discourse will stay clear of such behavior.

    In the end, this is not simply a matter of “Agreeing to Disagree”. This is a matter of the authenticator failing to disclose critical information to the potential buyer, information that would have affected the buyer’s decision of whether or not they thought the item was legitimately game used. The failure seems to stem from the unilateral decision on the part of the authenticator not to include “factory records” in the authentication analysis even though those records clearly should have been provided. If allowed, the authentication process would no longer follow the purpose outlined above but would become more a matter of:


    “MEARS thinks it is, therefore, it is”.


    Sincerely,
    Christopher Cavalier

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Re: Tris Speaker Bat - Making It Clear

    Chris: I not that experienced in this area so I can't give an opinion as to its merits, however, speaking as a lawyer, there may be a different approach to this issue. As you said, there are many factors which would lead one, whether he be collector or an authenticator, to believe a particular item is game-used. Some like factory records, others like photo's, and still others a letter of provenance. All these are circumstantial evidence as to whether the item is game-used. This is true even if the ball player gives the item to you because, as we all know, certain ball players are liars, hard-up or cash, or just don't care (think Pete Rose and Jolt'n Joe). So, instead of asking for all your money back, why not ask for damages, i.e., the difference between what you got and what it now is worth. In other words, is it possible to have MEARS agree that your argument is "possiblly" correct and therefore the bat's worth is diminshed by a certain sum of money which they will compensate you with. You keep the bat and make full disclosure to the next buyer and they modify the cert. to take into consideration you comments.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Aug 2005
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    Re: Tris Speaker Bat - Making It Clear




    There is no way in hell, if when they/you re-sold the bat, if it got $29,000, they would have gotten the $$$$$$$, and then b*tched about the LOO after the fact...

    How come this wasnt complained about B4 the attempt at re-sale?



    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisCavalier View Post
    It is easy to see that a lot of information has been disseminated regarding this situation. Hopefully, this information is useful to the collecting community and will give them a better understanding of the authentication process and the factors used in determining the likelihood of a bat potentially being game used. If so, I think it would be hard to argue against that being a good thing. However, I also hope it hasn’t confused people about the central issues in this situation that we believe are critical to the collecting community overall and potential buyers of game used items. Thus, I will try to simplify things a bit here so readers can hopefully understand what we believe are the true issues in this matter.

    The Role of the Authenticator

    As I have stated before in a previous thread, I believe the authentication process for game used items should be about helping a potential buyer determine the probability that an item is game used. I have elaborated on this in some detail in the following post:

    http://www.gameuseduniverse.com/vb_forum/showpost.php?p=4370&postcount=10

    As I stated in that post, there are extremely few instances where a buyer can get to 100% certainty. Therefore, the collector must rely on other data to determine the likelihood, or probability, of an item being “game used”. Importantly, all collectors are not the same in regards to what emphasis they place on different data. Some collectors may be more liberal in terms of what data gives them comfort that an item is game used while others may be more conservative in their approach. For example, some collectors are fine with an item’s legitimacy “as long as an authenticator says it’s good” while others prefer to examine all possible data to make their own conclusions.

    Once again, different collectors place different emphasis on different types of data. I, along with the other current owners of this bat, place a great deal of emphasis on the Louisville Slugger “factory records”. Given the MEARS authentication process awarded 5 points in a 10 point scale for this bat “matching factory records”, I think it is fair to say empirically that they consider this an important factor as well. Personally, I think you would be hard-pressed to find any seasoned bat collector who does not place tremendous emphasis on the “factory records”. In fact, here is a quote from a highly-respected, highly-recognized bat expert regarding Vince Malta’s bat player charts (based on Louisville Slugger’s factory records) we currently make available on GUU ““The player charts are the single greatest resource to bat collectors.” Another quote from a vintage bat collector at SCD claimed “The bat records for each player have always been kind of the Holy Grail for bat collectors.” The bottom line is, the “factory records” have always been one of the primary, most reliable data points bat collectors have considered when buying Louisville Slugger bats.

    The Disclosure of Information

    First of all, it is important to understand that when this bat was purchased, the Louisville Slugger “factory records” were not available to us, the buyers, or any other average collector. Fortunately, through the efforts of Vince Malta, that world is now changing. Through the player charts in his new book, the “factory records” will, in effect, be made available to anyone who wants them. However, at the time of the Speaker bat purchase, the collector relied on the authenticator to provide them with that information since the information only resided in the hands of a select few. Further, since the records were perceived to be guarded like the formula for Coca-Cola, collectors entered into a relationship of trust with the authenticator to let them know what the records stated in regards to a specific item. There was no reason to believe this information would be misrepresented or not disclosed in situations where it existed.

    This is where the fundamental problem exists and, for the first time, I think I finally understand why. One of the final factors that drove us to create Game Used Universe was the situation encountered here. As I mentioned, we believe all relevant and pertinent information relating to an item should be disclosed to the potential buyer so they can make a well-informed and educated decision about a “game used” item’s potential legitimacy. In the case of game-used bats, given the monumental importance of “factory records”, when they exist it seems all too obvious that they need to be disclosed to the potential buyer. Unfortunately, this did not happen in this case.

    What we now know

    Before proceeding, let me state here that this is not intended as an attack on MEARS. In fact, and we have stated over and over again that we chose to believe this whole issue centered on an oversight and was not intentional. However, upon further review, I now believe the problem lies in a clear difference of opinion in regards to what MEARS believes they needed to provide the collector and what the collector believes they need from them. As already demonstrated, any information coming directly from Louisville Slugger is critical and pertinent information for collectors to evaluate in the buying process. In this case, there were “factory records” from Louisville Slugger that were applicable to this bat. Anyone wishing to determine if “factory records” do exist in relation to this bat may find it helpful to read the following post entitled “H&B Bat Factory Records – You be The Judge”:

    http://www.gameuseduniverse.com/vb_forum/showthread.php?t=5363

    If these “factory records” had been disclosed in this case, would that have had an affect on the buyers’ purchase decision? Being one of buyers, I can say with absolute certainty that the answer is “Yes”. In fact, the desire to make sure this type of information is disclosed to collectors is one of the reasons Game Used Universe now exists. While not a knock against any organization or individual, we simply believe the collector should have all necessary information available to them so they can make an educated determination of whether or not they are comfortable believing the item was “game used” by a player.

    In this case, Mike Specht has already done an excellent job providing information regarding the Louisville Slugger factory records as they relate to Speaker. In fact, here is a post Mike made a while back that enabled collectors to see exactly what information exists directly from Louisville Slugger:

    http://www.gameuseduniverse.com/vb_forum/showpost.php?p=17755&postcount=16


    Jim Caravello also made a statement that is particularly germane in regards to an evaluation of these records. That is, “These records provide insight, to varying degrees, of individual player's ordering patterns. The closer a bat falls into a player's ordering patterns, the higher the comfort level for the collector. The further it falls away from a player's established patterns, the collector's comfort level diminishes.” In this case, the factory records from that period, while obviously not complete, are so far removed from what Speaker is “known” to order, that we believe it is not likely this bat was used by Speaker.

    In addition to the ledger entries, Vince Malta has personally shown me the factory bat diagrams for Speaker and they were consistently 35”. I actually saw the diagrams with my own eyes. While Jim Caravello has pointed out there apparently may also be one diagrammed at 34”, these lengths are so far removed from the length of the bat in question (32 ¼ inches) that it definitely affects our opinion of Speaker potentially using it. Consider this bat is 1 ¾” less than the shortest known diagram and 2 ¾” less than the typical length diagrammed for Speaker. Is it “possible”? Sure. Is it “probable”? We don’t think so. And that is exactly the point. If this information was disclosed, we never would have touched this bat.

    Until recently, I, for the life of me, couldn’t figure out why the people at MEARS couldn’t admit that their claim this bat was “PRE factory records” was inaccurate and that the records should have been disclosed. However, now I think I understand. The following statement sheds light on the subject:

    MEARS defines factory records as the complete set of records instituted in 1930 and forward also known as the personal player bat records.

    Ledger entries are not known in the industry as "factory records."

    --- Troy Kinunen

    How can the “industry” define what factory records are when only a handful of people had access to them? The average collector has never even seen the records. As per my discussions with Vince Malta and Mike Specht (who were among the handful that had the records), the claim that only post-1930 entries are considered “factory records” is a misrepresentation in their eyes. However, this seems to be the reason MEARS chose not to acknowledge the records or disclose them in the authentication process.

    At the end of the day, it is certainly an interesting exercise to consider what is “possible”. However, as stated above, we feel it is incumbent upon the authenticator to disclose all the relevant information so the collector can decide the risk levels they are comfortable accepting. Said another way, we don’t believe the process should be about conjecture and speculation about what is “possible” but rather the disclosure of relevant and important information to allow the collector to make an informed decision about what is probable. This is especially true when assigned grades give collectors certain assurances to that affect. In this case, if the relevant information regarding the factory records was disclosed, we would never have agreed with the grade and certainly not have purchased the bat.

    Last Word

    I think it is important to clear up one more thing before closing. Troy Kinunen’s post included the following statement, “We feel that only after the bat failed to sell for a profit, the letter was dissected in order to capitalize and exploit the MEARS buy back policy.” I have to say I am saddened by this unfounded accusation which appears to be nothing other than an attempt to unnecessarily discredit us.

    While the market values are really not relevant to the issue at hand, there was a Speaker bat that sold in 2003 for over $20,000. Thus, we had a precedent for what we believe a high grade Speaker bat could sell for, especially at that time when the vintage game used bat market was very strong due to the publicity surrounding the Ruth first Yankee Stadium HR bat. In any event, we think it is irresponsible and unjust to make such a malicious and unwarranted claim. Those who know us well know our uncompromising emphasis on trying to do what is right. We have not speculated on MEARS’ motives in this situation when we could have easily done so and find it disheartening that they have erroneously done so toward us. I would hope any future discourse will stay clear of such behavior.

    In the end, this is not simply a matter of “Agreeing to Disagree”. This is a matter of the authenticator failing to disclose critical information to the potential buyer, information that would have affected the buyer’s decision of whether or not they thought the item was legitimately game used. The failure seems to stem from the unilateral decision on the part of the authenticator not to include “factory records” in the authentication analysis even though those records clearly should have been provided. If allowed, the authentication process would no longer follow the purpose outlined above but would become more a matter of:


    “MEARS thinks it is, therefore, it is”.


    Sincerely,
    Christopher Cavalier

  4. #4
    Senior Member b.heagy's Avatar
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    Re: Tris Speaker Bat - Making It Clear

    Quote Originally Posted by jboosted92 View Post


    There is no way in hell, if when they/you re-sold the bat, if it got $29,000, they would have gotten the $$$$$$$, and then b*tched about the LOO after the fact...

    How come this wasnt complained about B4 the attempt at re-sale?

    I beleive the information that has been brought to light was discovered after the attempt of re-sale. The minimal amount of interest in this piece at auction raised some questions about the bat. Hence all the research after the fact. I would be doing some heavy research if an item I own had the same result.
    Bill Heagy
    heagysports.com
    Go Phillies !

  5. #5
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    Re: Tris Speaker Bat - Making It Clear

    Wouldnt you do some heavy research BEFORE you bought the bat? let alone after....?



    Quote Originally Posted by b.heagy View Post
    I beleive the information that has been brought to light was discovered after the attempt of re-sale. The minimal amount of interest in this piece at auction raised some questions about the bat. Hence all the research after the fact. I would be doing some heavy research if an item I own had the same result.

  6. #6
    Senior Member b.heagy's Avatar
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    Re: Tris Speaker Bat - Making It Clear

    Me personally: yes I would do heavy research with what is available at hand before purchase and see where my comfort level is. I beleive that is the difference the info was not easily/readily available at the time of purchase. I also would not buy a high dollar item without examining it in person either. The comfort level was high due to the letter of opinion. Now there are questions by different experts which does not help the item in any way. The bat has an * if you will. How would you handle this situation if it were you?
    Bill Heagy
    heagysports.com
    Go Phillies !

  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    Re: Tris Speaker Bat - Making It Clear

    Well, if Im buying the bat, im buying the bat and the LOO (in this case) meaning, if someone elses "opinion" of it is "XYZ" then im agreeing to the "XYZ"

    that simple.

    if im p!ssed after the fact, its my own fault.


    Quote Originally Posted by b.heagy View Post
    Me personally: yes I would do heavy research with what is available at hand before purchase and see where my comfort level is. I beleive that is the difference the info was not easily/readily available at the time of purchase. I also would not buy a high dollar item without examining it in person either. The comfort level was high due to the letter of opinion. Now there are questions by different experts which does not help the item in any way. The bat has an * if you will. How would you handle this situation if it were you?

  8. #8
    Senior Member kingjammy24's Avatar
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    Re: Tris Speaker Bat - Making It Clear

    chris,

    it sounds like you, mike rose, and mears have spent a great deal of time and effort going over all of the details and have reached an impasse. both camps seem resolute in their respective stances. it seems the only way to get a final resolution would be to engage the legal system. i, as well as many others i'm sure, would be extremely interested to hear how a judge would decide.
    that said, i understand that there's been great value to this discussion for the issues it's brought to light for collectors. in that spirit, i'll add some comments.

    i don't think there's anyone who would disagree that an authenticator ought to disclose any and all pertinent facts. of course, what facts are or are not pertinent can be subjective. semantics has nothing to do with what's pertinent though. whether you call it a "factory record" or "ledger" or "chicken scratch on paper", if it's pertinent it ought to be disclosed. (by definition a record is anything that's been recorded.) however, this describes what the ideal ought to be, not the reality of how things are.

    you said "There was no reason to believe this information would be misrepresented or not disclosed in situations where it existed."
    i can't help but disagree to an extent here. in an ideal situation, there would be no reason to believe why this information would not be disclosed. i don't believe this was an ideal situation. specifically, in this case, wasn't bushing's admitted history of failing to disclose pertinent facts a good reason to believe that such information might not be disclosed? when bushing found the joe d. bat and gave it an A10 himself, did he immediately disclose that he also owned it? when mastro posted bushing's bio did dave immediately disclose that parts of the bio were false? how long was that bio up before dave finally "fessed up"? in a june 06 hunt's auction which was authenticated by mears, bushing teamed with hunt's to purchase a brett jersey and put it in the hunt's auction. upon consigning this item, did dave immediately disclose that he was co-consigner? why, after the auction was live, was even dave grob unaware for a brief time that bushing had consigned the item? dave grob had to buy the item and remove it from auction. why did bushing not reveal this pertinent detail to dave grob prior to consigning it? i have to guess that these things just don't occur to bushing or else he would've disclosed them. i don't think it's intentional or malicious. i just think he's "unaware" of many issues. this isn't an attack on bushing, it's simply his track record regarding this specific issue. the issue is someone's failure to disclose all details and i don't think it's entirely coincidental that we're specifically discussing dave bushing. if someone has a history specifically of not disclosing pertinent details, then i fail to see why someone would trust them to do so.

    regarding the definition of hobby terms, if mears is going to define terms then, at the very least, they need to disclose these definitions ahead of time. it's somewhat tricky to determine who ought to define terms. personally, i'm a big fan of letting the english language itself define the terms. "game issued" means "issued for a game". "factory record" means a "record created by the factory". proprietary terms ought to be defined by their creators. non-proprietary terms that aren't immediately clear, like "flag tag" ought to be defined by the collecting community.
    at the end of the day though, it doesn't really matter WHO defines something as long as they make that definition clear and known to others.
    was mears' definition of "factory records" made public at the time you purchased the bat?

    rudy.

 

 

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