On October 29th of the year 2000, the world lost someone very special. Not a celebrity, by most standards, but a remarkable man who found great success in life, no matter how you measure it. His name was David Graves, and he was a devoted husband, a loving father, a dear friend to many, and the greatest Dead Pool player who ever lived, bar none.
Yes, that’s a bold statement to make, but it’s pretty hard to argue with his stiffs.com career. The first time we noticed him was in April of ’98, when he started racking up hits in one of our Lee Jr. games. Back then, the Lee Jr. was primarily to keep players interested through the year-long annual contest (The Lee Atwater Invitational). The Lee Jr. cost nothing to enter, lasted a month, and the winner’s prize was a free entry in the Big Game. Players were allowed to submit one list (10 names) per e-mail address. Most of these games were won by players getting one or two hits for the month. But starting on April 15th, “M.T. Graves” scored 5 out of 10 in just 8 days. Unheard of. Frightening. We were awed.
Not long after that, we expanded The Lee Jr. into a six-month contest, with a $5 entry free and a $300 first prize. Dave won the second of these games, again getting 5 out of 10. By this time, we were nearing the end of another of our year-long campaigns, and who do you think showed up in 3rd place out of 593? Yes, it was M.T. Graves with 7 stiffs for another 200 bucks. As the site continued to grow, we continued to up the stakes, and the Lee Jr.’s grand prize was soon raised to $1000. It took a couple of tries, but Dave won again, this time scoring a mind-blowing 9 out of 10 in just six months (March-August, 1999).
Meanwhile, coming down the stretch for The ’99 Invitational, M.T. had a couple of lists in contention. With a first prize of $3000, several players had submitted multiple entries, including one guy who gambled on 21 of ’em. Mr. Graves kept his head and turned in five lists, yet, out of 919 in the game, Dave wound up tied for third AND tied for first. Chalk up another $1900. M.T. also won the Pete Gray Award for ’99, which we give out annually to the player who does the most with the least. One of the names on Dave’s third place list was ruled Not Famous at the outset, and he still got 7 out of the 9 that were in play. That kind of success left us no choice but to bestow another honor on this corpse-counting wonder. He became the 3rd recipient of The Drew Scharlatt Lifetime Achievement Award, making 1999 a veritable clean sweep for the mighty M.T. Graves. And now he’s gone.
We here at stiffs.com were not fortunate enough to have known him personally. Much to our regret, we shared but a handful of e-mails and letters with him over the three years he visited our site. Still, like many others who follow and participate in this unique pastime of ours, we developed enormous respect and admiration for him — not only for his astoundingThe M.T. successes in the game itself, but also for the class and dignity with which he carried himself, regardless of how he fared. It is due to this respect and admiration that we were moved to honor him with the most fitting tribute we could muster. And while all such remembrances seem woefully inadequate when measured against the life of a human being, we felt it appropriate that we rename our most coveted prize after our most celebrated player. Behold The M.T. Graves Memorial Trophy, always to be affectionately known as The M.T.
So long, Champ. You will not be forgotten.