Sunday, March 24, 2019

Great Moments in Pool History - A Tale of Two Commissioners

1998 - from spam to command

In the contest's early years, our contestants were almost exclusively friends and co-workers of the commissioners. Our first three years we had 18, 26, and 27 entries, and the commissioners could practically knock on every previous-year contestant's door and hand each of them the new year's entry form. Soon, however, word began to spread as if by wildfire. Our next five years, we had 50, 80, 90, 103, and 123 entries, and there were simply too many people for the commissioners to personally remind about each year's contest. By the mid- to late-1990s, the commissioners started disseminating information using a newfangled invention known as "e-mail."

In order to do that, of course, people had to give us their e-mail addresses. We specifically asked each entrant for permission to communicate by e-mail as well as a convenient address to which we could send the entry form and newsletters.

Therefore, you can perhaps imagine our surprise when we received an extremely indignant response to one of our e-mails in February 1998. We don't remember the exact words, but it was something along the lines of, Where do you get off spamming me with this crap? If you ever contact me again, I'll report you.

A little bit stung by this response, the commissioners contritely explained (in a very small electronic voice) that M Josephs had played in our contest the year before and had actually asked us to send the e-mail announcing the 1998 contest. After thinking about it, M Josephs apparently remembered and sent back a filled out entry form.

He was the only entrant that picked Kentucky to win the championship that season, and since Kentucky did in fact win the championship, M Josephs won the contest (and the prize-money that went with it).

He became predictably enthusiastic about the contest thereafter. So enthusiastic that several years later, he volunteered to become a commissioner. His main contribution? Sending out our annual e-mails.

M Josephs has never won the contest again.

2019 - Bob Natalini does absolutely nothing

Original co-commissioner RS Natalini did a little bit of everything. He recruited contestants, distributed entry forms, helped enter selections into the database and helped tabulate results, sent e-mails, co-wrote newsletters, and did whatever else needed to be done. No way the pool would have lasted 30 years without RS Natalini performing his co-commissionerial duties.

The years marched on, and the contest became more and more automated, needed less and less from the co-commissioner. We don't remember the exact words, but at some point he said something along the lines of, You don't need me anymore, right?

He didn't walk away completely. He still played in the contest, both on his own behalf and as a co-entrant with S Adams and Coach Doc. He still encouraged his father, RC Natalini to play. He even submitted entries in the name of his deceased cat, Claude.

But not this year. No, in February 2019, RS Natalini sent us an e-mail a few days before the entries were due, telling us he just didn't have time to focus on the contest this year. For the first time in 30 years, RS Natalini was not part of the Pre-NCAA Contest.

And pool-watchers everywhere shed a single, solitary tear.

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