This came up in the Baseball Autographs TTM group on Facebook yesterday (and thanks to Abelardo Mora, Jr. for the screen grab and post). But, Mat Latos announced on Saturday that he is not signing TTM requests anymore. The reason? People are sending too many things and sending too many requests.
A few weeks (maybe a month or so ago?) I saw a straw poll, also in one of the Facebook TTM groups, it was “how many items do you send in a TTM request?” For me, it’s always 2. It doubles my chances of getting one copy of the card back, and if the player keeps one (like Bobby Shantz), or trades me 1:1 (like Curt Simmons or Larry Christenson), then it improves my chances of getting back at least one copy of the card I want signed.
But there are people out there who send 5, 6, 7, even 10 items at a time. There are guys sending helmets, bats, jerseys, big items. This is what’s going to destroy the hobby, and if you disagree, fight me (in the comments below).
TTM requests, as I remember them, started when I was a kid, writing to baseball teams who’s addresses I saw in the back of a baseball magazine. For other people, it was sending a card to their favorite player asking for an autograph.
Now, some people are turning it into a business. You can see if you browse the SCF TTM database for more than a half a minute, that there’s at least one person on the board who’s doing TTM requests for other people. And with the volume they do it, I can’t imagine they’re doing it for free.
There are a handful of people in the Facebook groups as well who are selling their TTM’s and actually defending it as a business.
How fucking ridiculous.
I think these people have totally lost the plot. They forget the actual steps that go into a TTM request.
1. Send an item to a person’s home asking them to sign and return.
2. Wait for a person to take time out of their day, for free, to sign an item.
3. Wait for that person to take time out of their day, again for free, to repackage the item.
4. Wait for that person to take time out of their day, one more time, to take the package to either a mailbox or the post office.
Most of the athletes we’re sending to are retired. Some not having retired on their own terms. Some in the latter stages of life. So my question, to the guys that send helmets or almost a dozen cards asking for an autograph for free is; “What exactly are these athlete’s time worth to you?”
Now, I understand, a lot of TTM’ers include “donations”, and a lot of guys (Bert Blyleven caused a little hollabaloo recently over a new pricing structure for his TTM time) won’t sign without getting paid, or have priced themselves out of the TTM hobby for a lot of people.
But if this is a hobby, and a hobby that’s financial barrier to entry is an index card, an envelope and a stamp, then what exactly is too much?
I think that we need to start policing ourselves in some way. Establish a new standard of best practices beyond “hey, let’s all, as adults 19 years into the 21st century, hand write letters to we seem ‘more earnest’ in our request”.
We need to say “Here’s a hard limit, if we’re asking for more than this, we’re asking for too much and should inquire on a private signing.”
For me, my personal limit is that I won’t send anything that won’t fit an a PWE for 1 stamp (and won’t be too broken up over if Mr. Mailman loses or destroys it).
At the end of the day though, we need to all of us remember that this is a hobby, and that the people on the receiving end are participating in it with us and not for us. Some of you need to start respecting them and their time.