One morning two weeks ago, Giana Manzi woke up to a flurry of text messages buzzing her bedside. When she reached for her phone, she understood the commotion.
“Well, Rocco got a new job,” she thought.
Manzi and new Twins manager Rocco Baldelli have never met, so the barrage of alerts might seem odd. They are both Rhode Island natives, however, and Manzi inherited the former ballplayer’s old 401 area code phone number. (It’s a small state.) A diehard baseball fan, she had tracked Baldelli’s career—mostly with the Rays with a brief stint on her beloved Red Sox—as any Ocean State resident might, so she knew why this was big news.
Manzi had recently discovered her phone number’s provenance when someone wrote to her a few weeks ago. “Yo yo yo! what up snoop? How’s the offseason been going? I just read that you interviewed with the Rangers. That’s awesome!!!” Manzi initially replied in character, something to the effect of “Yeah man, pretty sweet. Cross your fingers for me.”
Rhode Island is a small state. But so small that I get @roccodbaldelli’s wrong number texts?
PS Rocco, a friend of yours is trying to get in touch… pic.twitter.com/UkW1g5h3wZ
— Giana Manzi (@gmanziii) October 16, 2018
Asked why she played along, Manzi said, “Sometimes you see on Buzzfeed these really funny [wrong number] exchanges. Let’s just see if something funny comes out of it.”
Her pen pal jokingly replied, “If you need managerial tips, I coach my son’s baseball team.” The name of the sport suddenly triggered a connection. Manzi googled “baseball manager Rangers” and, lo and behold, there were reports of Baldelli’s managerial interview with the Texas Rangers.
“I was like, ‘Oh my God, he definitely means Rocco,’” Manzi said. “I texted him back, cleared the air. He thought it was hysterical. I thought that was the end of it.”
It was—until Baldelli got the Twins job. Manzi has had this phone number since 2009, but this managerial milestone prompted many old pals to reach out for the first time in a long while. One of the wrong numbers was former Rays teammate Matt Diaz, now an MLB Network Radio host on SiriusXM, who last played with Baldelli in 2004. Diaz and cohost Mike Ferrin even invited her on the program, after which Manzi tweeted at Baldelli, “We are the internet’s favorite story right now.”
New Twins manager Rocco Baldelli (left) and GM Thad Levine (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
People change phone numbers all the time, of course, although less so since the FCC began mandating that wireless companies accommodate number portability in November 2003. Almost everyone has received a wrong-number call or text, but the misdirected interactions are more loaded and more amusing when they include someone in the public sphere.
While working a different job in 2016, I texted the number I had for Jerry Dipoto, whom the Mariners had hired as their general manager the previous fall. I soon received this reply: “Happy to give you an interview but this is not Jerry and this is no longer Jerry’s phone Let me know if you still want that interview.”
I initially redirected my efforts to tracking down Dipoto’s new contact information but eventually responded to the wrong number with a friendly joke about the request. This time, the mysterious phone owner wrote:
“You redeemed yourself – I thought you were void of humor. You can’t imagine the hundreds of messages I’ve received and the all the intimate details of insider trading My lips are sealed. Advice to other famous people who want/need to change phone numbers: Pay to keep your old number and hide the phone in a drawer. Too much information in the wrong hands could be catastrophic.”
In fact, this person—who stopped replying before I could find out any personal information—said an Associated Press reporter reached out when Seattle first hired Dipoto, and the person’s son initially offered a made-up statement. At that point, the parent who had been bequeathed this 480 area code number intervened: “I just couldn’t let the reporter ruin his career, so I contacted him before it went to print. Due diligence my friend – due diligence. Lol.”
/* Add your own MailChimp form style overrides in your site stylesheet or in this style block.
We recommend moving this block and the preceding CSS link to the HEAD of your HTML file. */
Get the latest sports tech news in your inbox.
Sometimes an outsider can bring some fresh perspective on another industry. Fort Worth resident Camille Camp received a company phone for her job as a sales rep at United Rentals, and the new 817 number used to belong to Texas Rangers assistant GM Thad Levine, who is now the GM of the Twins (and, coincidentally, the man who hired Baldelli). Camp had a similar experience as Manzi with some two-dozen text messages in the first nine months with the phone number.
“No one ever calls,” Camp said. “They always text. It’s kind of crazy.”
That observation certainly rings true among ballwriters. Los Angeles Times national baseball writer Andy McCullough coined the hashtag #TextExecs as the reportorial ethos of the offseason generally and the winter meetings specifically. In fact, I once wrote a story about how technology—and text messaging, in particular—had killed the modus operandi of the winter meetings.
Amusingly, Levine contributed a quote to that story—by text, and in response to my text. (It was meta.) He admitted that some in-person conversations at the winter meetings were scheduled purely as an excuse to attendees to get up and stretch their legs. But the (literal) inside baseball dynamic of communications can certainly seem foreign to someone working in sales.
“It’s just funny because it’s a completely different industry and completely different type of person who has this number now than when he did,” Camp said. “I’m 24, and obviously I’m not the GM of a professional baseball team. I’m a sales rep for a construction equipment company so it’s not so glamorous as his life.”
Another difference between ballplayers and most mainstream professions is the way colleagues address each other. Baseball is, after all, the sport that made stars out of men called Yogi, Papi, Goose, Ducky, Cool Papa, and the Babe. And the tradition continues.
“There were some nicknames that were really funny that I have no idea what they mean,” Manzi said with a laugh.
Manzi works in marketing at LogMeIn, a software company headquartered in Boston. Her dream is to be a sports reporter, but for now, she said, “My side job is his assistant and trying to relay the messages, but he hasn’t gotten back to me. So I’m just holding onto these for when he wants to know who reached out.”