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In the news and at the forefront of jersey collecting.

March 27, 2012

Sold an Oilers' Khabibulin jersey today to a collector who attended a game on the road in St. Louis where Khabby played. The collector wanted this particular jersey because he attended the game, and when I described the extensive game use, he knew exactly the stick and puck marks to which I was referring.

That's the beauty of this hobby. We can go to games, watch our jerseys, and then own them ... with photo evidence to back the jersey. It reminded me of something I used to wonder about in the late 1990s, when I was a collector, before I started this company, when authenticity and legitimacy was so speculative.

The conventional wisdom back then was teams wore very few jerseys. Another mantra echoed by veteran dealers and collectors 15-20 years ago was that photo-matching "was a needle in the haystack" endeavor. One dealer said that exact thing to me in 1997.

I wondered how these two contradictory theories could both be true. If teams wore very few jerseys, why wasn't it easy to photo-match? It's not like teams did not take pictures of their players then. It's not like video did not exist. When MeiGray acquired the New York Rangers Collection in 1997 and we began pulling jerseys out of boxes to inventory them, we photo-matched them within seconds from the media guide, programs, and videotapes.

The simple truth is, this hobby has made tremendous progress. Today's hobby is so much more professional than it was in the '90s because a guy in St. Louis can watch a Blues-Oilers game, check out the game use on a Khabibulin jersey, order it from MeiGray, and know exactly the jersey he is getting.


March 26, 2012

Here’s how the Game-Worn Jersey hobby has grown over the last 15 years …

Fifteen years ago, teams like the Philadelphia Flyers weren’t highlighting Fan Appreciation Nights like the Flyers did after Saturday’s 4-1 victory over Montreal by holding and televising a Shirts Off Our Back ceremonies in which the players stripped down to their shoulder pads to hand a sweaty gamer to a lucky fan. But there we were at Wells Fargo Center, sponsoring one of the coolest new traditions in hockey. Stu Oxenhorn was snapping photos, Joe Manley was handing out Flyers-MGG Letters of Authenticity, and I stood at the Zamboni entrance like a proud papa as each Flyer smoothed out his jersey on one of those great MeiGray presentation boxes being held afloat by each winning fan, so he could sign the back number while taking a picture with the lucky fan.

And I wasn’t halfway home driving north on I-95 when I got a text (No, I don’t text while driving … I pulled over to read it!!!) from one of our clients (a Canadiens fan) telling me he was watching the telecast and saw my between-periods interview. It prompted him to jump on our website and order a jersey that happened to be a New Arrival, simply because the player who wore this jersey shared his last name. “See, your appearance has already paid off,” he wrote.

Now this jersey happened to be a jersey here on consignment, which meant that the collector who hired us to sell it for him was pretty happy this morning to see his jersey no longer on our website for sale. Considering I picked out an orange tie to wear with my tan/brown plan sports coat in honor of the Flyers-MGG Program, I called Saturday night a win-win for all concerned.

Why am I telling this story? Because it’s important to keep a perspective on how our hobby is changing … for the better. It’s easy to talk, as some old-time collectors do, about there being too many sets worn by teams, and how nobody buys and trades like in the old days. But I think that view ignores what’s really going on: The Game-Worn hobby has gone mainstream. Casual fans and hardcore collectors both appreciate _ for very different reasons _ that you can own a jersey directly off a player’s back.

There are more jerseys than ever being worn, but there are more collectors than ever wearing them, too. Ever look around at an NHL rink? Each night there’s a sea of (pick your team’s color). There are more jerseys because there are more collectors and more fans to understand why this is the coolest hobby around.


March 23, 2012

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara played his 999th NHL game last night in San Jose. Big Z's 1000th NHL game is tomorrow night in Los Angeles. And the Bruins-MGG Game-Worn Program is prepared. The Bruins equipment staff has packed three fresh white jerseys for Chara to wear in his Milestone Game: One for Chara, one for the Bruins, and one to be marketed by Bruins-MGG. Congrats Z ...

If you plan to watch or listen to the Flyers playing host to the Montreal Canadiens tomorrow night in Philly, which is Fan Appreciation Night, don't go away during the intermissions. I'll be taping a TV spot before the game and I will be interviewed on radio during the first intermission. We'll be talking about the Flyers-MGG Game-Worn Jersey Program and discussing Shirts Off the Players' Back Night.


March 22, 2012

We're often asked about our photo-matching service, and how we can be so certain that clean jerseys without distinctive stick marks are matched. The next time you acquire a game-worn jersey, take a look at the crest and notice imperfections in the stitching. Then take a look at the sewn-on numbers and name plate and take a look at the threads and other imperfections.

Using the photo services with which we subscribe, and using our team licensed deals to acquire other high-resolution photos, it's not difficult to blow these photos up 10X and 100X and focus in on one number, one stitch mark, one imperfection. When we match 4 or 5 of these unique areas of a shirt, and couple that with the authentication information we receive from a team, we can be certain the jersey is the exact one in the photo.

Now a few words about blood ... We know all about how the Devils-Rangers line dance on Monday juiced the game-worn hobby, after Ryan Carter's jersey ended up blood-stained. Nowadays, seeing remnants of that blood still present when we acquire the jersey is rare. That's because health concerns, NHL recommendations, and modern cleaning chemicals enable equipment managers to rid any garment of blood within minutes. Each team carries strong enzyme-based fluid that cleans a soaked jersey beautifully. Not what fighter collectors want to hear, but that's what usually happens. 


March 21, 2012

The washing/not washing of special set jerseys we pick up live reminded me of a night in 2003 when I authenticated a set of LA Kings jerseys for the NHL-MGG Vintage Program and brought them back to my hotel room.

Oh, the fragrance!! I ended up bathing each jersey for five minutes in cold water and then finding 25 hangers so I could get a night's sleep and pack the damp but not soaking wet jerseys in a bag for the flight home. It was then that I realized how a quick rinse in cold water without detergent would serve to freshen the jerseys without sacrificing stick or puck marks.

Congratulations to the Devils' Ilya Kovalchuk for scoring his 400th NHL goal last night in Ottawa. We have authenticated and secured the Milestone Jersey, Kovy's White Set 2. That's the set the team has been wearing since February 4, and will wear for a few more games while Set 3 is being prepared. Kovy 400 is headed to a great home, to a collector who has secured many NHL milestone jerseys and equipment over the last five years.


March 20, 2012

Devils fans will be happy to know that not only did we authenticate and pick up last Saturday the Third Annual Retro Set that is currently up for auction, but we also grabbed the Scott Niedermayer Set that the Devils wore the night they retired his number 27. Stay tuned for details ... Drew Wojciechowski, who directs our MGG-Devils Program, had the pleasure of waiting in the laundry room for the basket of sweaty garments to roll in for inventory, authentication, and packing ... When MGG grabs a set of special jerseys directly after a game, we do not wash them. You'd be surprised how many collectors prefer it that way!!!

And we're heading back to Newark tomorrow to pick up another batch of game-used equipment: Sticks, skates and gloves from the current season ...

It isn't often that we acquire a jersey of a player whose name has never hit our database ... but we have just authenticated a road blue WHA Birmingham Bulls jersey from 1977-78 worn by that famed goon and legendary wildman, Steve Durbano. The jersey was previously owned by a collector who told us he bought it in the late '70s from the team. Durbano jerseys are so hard to find because fighter collectors loved him, and this one shows serious fighter use. It'll hit the website if it makes it past the request list ...

We're in Philly Saturday for Fan Appreciation Night. If you're going to the game, good luck becoming one of the 20 fans who wins a gamer right off a Flyer's back. I'll be handing out the LOAs that go with the jerseys ...


March 16, 2012

The hobby lost a giant yesterday.

Ken Mace was a great guy, a good friend, a collector with a passion for the hobby matched by his knowledge and common sense. Hammered Hockey, he called himself on the Forum. He enjoyed the cyber-battles, but he was wise enough to know not to ever take them personally. He fought his dastardly illness hard, stayed positive, and lived a great life. He leaves us all feeling better for having known him. He will be missed.

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