Comments generate deep thoughts: spare cards and TTMs.

The latest two comments that made me wander off in a speculative haze: GCA says we should never, ever discard cards because there's someone out there who may want or need them.

Here is the quandary, G. How to know who wants them or needs them? Then, how to transfer them to the new owner? Since the amount of cards in question are many many many more than pictured above, we would probably have to rent a semi-truck to haul them across country. In the meantime, they take up space in boxes in the garage. Thoughts?

Second, AdamE notes that there is an element of "stalking" to TTM; to the process of sending a card to someone and asking them to sign it. Ah, AdamE, you raise an excellent concern. You give voice to the exact troubling thought that was rattling around in my head like a BB in a boxcar. Once Lucy began to lose interest in the TTM process--that is, she stopped writing letters to players in her inimitable red pencil scrawl--my ability to take up the slack wasn't there. Why, I can't even approach a player for an autograph in person unless one of my kids wants to and then basically does all the work. Why is that?

Because I just can't. The only in-person encounter I ever had with a celebrity whose autograph I sorta wanted was a miserable failure because I only chatted. It was a nice chat, even a memorable one, but I never built up the courage to say, "sign this, would you?" And our one celebrity friend is often approached for autographs and always gracious, but I find it awkward to observe when seeing the request from the other side. Not that it is odd, but that I can't DO it. Maybe he or she made a popular movie or can hit a baseball, but I can do a few things very well too, and no one asks for MY autograph. You know? I don't like when the playing field is not level, so to speak. Celebrity/fame is weird. And admit it...there's something unseemly about this:

And normally I'd say, "at least it's ok when kids do it" but look at the mug on that little boy. Whew. The upshot of all this is a newfound realization that certified on-card autographs do, in fact, serve a purpose.

However! There is nothing that quite compares to the little happy kick we get when a player returns an autograph and Lucy's face never fails truly to light up. She likes to sort through her baseball player signatures--mostly TTMs, with a few acquired in person. So, that is my quandary. And those are today's deep thoughts.


Field of Cards said...

I too have a lot of commons I really don't want. It's almost all junk wax years that I opened for reasons of nostalgia. I could use that room in the kitchen cupboards for other cards.

As for TTMs, the personal touch on both ends seems like a romantic throwback to the good ole' days in some ways, but on the other hand it also seems intrusive to contact a stranger with a request.

It's sorta like presenting a chore to them. I mean people hate paying bills in part because it involves sitting down and performing a task, mailing stuff, signing stuff etc. A TTM is in the same family, it seems.

Although if kids write letters to players that changes everything. Who doesn't love to get a letter from an earnest kid? It changes from a chore to a treat.

Still, when I see TTMs I have to admit I love them and wish I had some.

night owl said...

I have a similar issue with autograph collecting and mentioned it on the blog about a year or so. The whole thing makes me uncomfortable, especially in person. For all the reasons you mention. I'm just not that kind of person who can do that. So I don't.

As for TTM, it doesn't bother me too much, most likely because there is no face-to-face interaction. But also, there are ballplayers who seem genuinely pleased to receive mailings from their fans (mostly the retired ballplayers -- which are the only players that I am interested in contacting).

I, too, have 2 giant boxes of cards that I think no one will want. But every once in awhile -- like every 5 months -- I find something in those boxes that somebody wants, and I'm glad I still have the boxes.

Laurens said...

As far as common cards are concerned, the most practical solution to actually getting rid of them would be to donate them to a local thrift store.

If that isn't an option, concede they are to be discarded, trashed, thrown away.

It maybe better to feel like you've thrown away something hindering space, instead of letting an apparent burden linger.

As far as sending out TTM requests, I have done it for a while and I wouldn't confuse it with stalking.

You aren't getting into a player's face in-person and starting an argument because they didn't sign something for you and you aren't following anyone home either.

The problem I see is the commercialization of autographs and how technology is evolving.

1.) Anyone can turn around and sell any autographs online, so more people who would sign are reluctant these days to sign stuff sent to them.

2.) Anyone with an Internet connection can find out the pertinent signing info on someone so more and more people are looking to get something 'free' through an TTM request [regardless of their intentions].

Joe S. said...

In my TTM letters I mention that I'm passing along the cards to my son, should he develop an interest in the hobby (he's one month old). I mention him by name, because I really am planning on passing the cards along. Every so often a player personalizes the card, which is especially cool because I don't ask for that.

Carl Crawford Cards said...

TTM and autos are tough. I've done a good number (or what I consider to be a good number) of TTMs to old-timers I care about for one reason or another. I write them a personal letter, send a card, and a form asking a few questions I'd like to know about their careers. Most sign and answer the questions, which is awesome. A few have even written letters back.

That said, in-person autos at games do kinda suck. I've only tried for three, but I got all three. For example, the last one was Jonny Gomes at Wrigley last year. I hated standing in a sea of auto-hounds who didn't know most of the players' names (beyond Bruce, Votto, and Owings) but I had a minor league jersey of his from Durham. I waited until he was heading in, called his name, and he ran over. We didn't chat or anything (dude was at work), but I profusely thanked him, he signed the jersey, and headed in and didn't sign for anyone else. I was ONLY interested in getting Gomes' sig and he hooked me up. AWESOME guy.

Finally, the commercialization of the autos has kind of killed it for everyone involved, from players on down. Total bummer.

paulsrandomstuff said...

I don't see a big problem with writing to ballplayers - they're free to treat it as fan mail or junk mail, whichever they prefer.

There are certainly some former players who seem to enjoy being remembered, though I'd guess most active major leaguers view it as a nuisance.

As far as the issue of surplus cards goes, you probably will have to discard them if you really want/need the space. If you're doing that too often, though, it's probably a sign that it would be better to just get the single cards that you actually want.

AdamE said...

What you do with all those extra cards is pull out all the Red Sox and mail them to Missouri.

madding said...

Obsessive team collectors (not that I would, ahem, know any) might be interested in some of the surplus "junk" cards just in the off-chance that they were missing a 1991 Bowman Jamie Moyer card or something. I have seen others do a "save these cards or they're going in the trash" type of posts where people inevitably claim some of the stuff they're tossing, but that still always involves time, effort and most likely money in getting rid of it. I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 30,000 cards (lost track) from when I collected in high school. While I've been somewhat successful in converting some of them to Cardinals cards, which was my goal in starting my blog, I'm afraid I might have added to the total number of cards I have over the long haul. Yikes.

jacobmrley said...

I used to work in a card store (and hang out at one currently so much people think I work there) and when folks come in with the pile of junk from the late 80's and early 90's that people swore were going to put their kids through college, I tell them to donate them to a children's hospital or some other similar organization that will get them into the hands of kids. When push come to shove, that is what these little pieces of cardboard are for anyway...

Doc said...

I suggest donating your junk wax / commons to a Children's Hospital or orphanage. I'm sure the kids would enjoy them very much!

I've been trying to build steam on this idea and created a basic blog about it, but I haven't had much time to flesh out the idea.

Check it out if interested!