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Boy Seeking Autograph Gets Letter From Pirates Asking For Money

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- A letter from the Pirates to a young fan seeking an autograph from second baseman and Pittsburgh native Neil Walker is creating a buzz on social media.

SB Nation posted the tweet Friday afternoon from the 8-year-old boy's father. It also made it onto Sports Illustrated's website and a few other places online.

In his note to Walker, little Colin says, "You are my favorite player. May you please sign my card?"

In response, the Pirates sent Colin a reproduced photo card and a business letter saying that if he wants the autograph, he has to contribute to Pirates Charities and the Miracle League programs.

At the end, it said, "Please send the item you would like to have signed, along with a return paid-postage, self-addressed envelope and your contribution for each item to be autographed to the address indicated below."

Colin's father said in the tweet that his son was "crushed" when he received the letter instead of an autograph.

UPDATE: The Pirates issue statement to The Fan's Colin Dunlap on the controversy:

Dunlap says: A logical deduction is the plan implemented by the Pirates is not just to raise money for Pirates Charities, but to also help filter out some of those adults who might look to capitalize monetarily [from autographs] as I'm certain many of those creeps out on the street are.

I reached out to the Pirates about this situation. Brian Warecki, Vice President of Communications, wrote back:

"Our organization and players get thousands of autograph requests per week, the majority of which are from collectors. While it is impossible to respond to every request, we do try to respond to as many as possible; especially those we can determine come from true Pirates fans.

"As part of the fan mail response process, some players and staff have asked to participate in the "Autographs for a Cause" program. This program, which was modeled after similar programs in use at other MLB clubs, helps to support a cause or charity designated by the player. Neil has asked to participate in this program in an effort to support the Miracle League program to help give every child, regardless of challenge they face, the chance to play baseball.

"We do apologize for disappointing this young fan and are working to make it right. We had proactively reached out to his parent via social media message, well before any mainstream media became involved. We will also take a look at the "Autographs for a Cause" program and possible tweaks that can be made to improve upon it moving forward."

Click here to read Colin Dunlap's full take on the controversy.

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