Ralph Sampson, Where Are You?
Let me begin by saying a few words about something totally disconnected from the title above. On second thought, maybe it is related, but it will take a while to get there.
I hate Spam, both kinds. I absolutely hate it, but I have not figured out what to do about the cyber variety. The other kind I can handle by simply avoiding it. Keep in mind that I am on WebTV (MSN) so I can't install some of the anti-spam devices I see advertised for computers. MSN says they do various things to try and reduce the amount of spam for its users, but I have no way of evaluating their efforts. It just seems to me that spam continues to grow, but maybe it would be worse if they were doing nothing. I just don't know.
It seems that somebody somewhere, has decided that I am a conservative who needs a larger sex organ, more sexual drive, dirty pictures to look at, and am in need of borrowing some money. Why do I say this? Because I would estimate that 75% of my spam falls into one of these categories. I tried clicking on the unsubscribe statement at the bottom until I learned that was the worst thing I could do. It has been explained to me that clicking on the "unsubscribe" statement verifies to the sender that the address is a valid one and therefore is more valuable to them as they sell my address to other "spammers."
Now that I have laid the groundwork, I can get on with the story.
Several days ago, I received an e-mail from an unknown person who identified the organization they were associated with as the Wexley School for Girls in Seattle, Washington. The e-mail subject read simply, "Is this a valid address?" My first thought was that the writer was clever in presenting some porn opportunity and my initial inclination was to discard the e-mail as I had many others.
In the message portion, however, the writer said, "I have pulled it off a hoops chat board?" Whoa, how would a porn solicitor know I am involved with sports writing and what kind of a basketball chat board would my name appear on?" It was just enough to pique my curiosity, so I responded to the e-mail and indicated my address was a valid address.
I then received the following response to my e-mail.
"The reason I am writing, in fact, is I am shooting a TV spot for ESPN and am trying to find Ralph Sampson. I Google searched his name and you posted on RamFanatic about 2 years ago that he lived right down the street from you. I am on the West Coast and reached the UVA Sports Information Office after hours, but I think they can help me tomorrow. I tracked you down because I wanted to see if he still lived down the street from you. I can have my production department scour Richmond if that is the case. I heard he recently moved to Miami and opened a restaurant, but no luck on that yet. Do you know if he is still near you?
Go Heels, regardless. My family all went to UNC. I love it down there.
I responded and informed Mr. McAllister that Ralph Sampson no longer lived down the street from me. I told him that he was divorced from his wife when they lived there and he had been hauled into court recently on two occasions for non-support. The newspaper said at that time that he was residing in Atlanta, Georgia. I suggested that he call any Sampson in Harrisonburg, Virginia and also check with the police station there. If the Sampson he got on the telephone was not the right one, they could give him the name of Sampson's parents.
I then received the following e-mail from Mr. McAllister.
"Thanks so much Frank. That's quite helpful, actually. With any luck I will find him and when you see the ESPN commercials about college brackets, it will be in part your handiwork."
I then told him to check Deluth, Georgia and if RS was not listed in the telephone directory, to check the business number for "Winners Circle."
I then received the following e-mail.
"Ralph has pulled quite a disappearing act. UVA says they don't keep in touch with him or vice versa, the ACC said they tried to find him for the Legends Program and couldn't, the NBA Players Association is out at the All Star game ( this seems to be their Spring Break week ) and the Rockets are sort of in the cold.. On your suggestion, one of my assistants managed to track down his parents, I understand, so I'm waiting to hear from that. The new Deluth information is quite valuable. I don't know how you know more than his alma mater, but keep those sources close to your vest. Thanks again and Go Heels."
All in all I enjoyed the experience of searching for Ralph and yes, I am going to be looking for the commercials later and, if I see them, I plan to feel good about the role I played. I think I am going to take Mr. McAllister's advice though and not divulge my sources. In the course of searching for RS, I found out much more about him and it might make an interesting article later.