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Right Name, Wrong Number
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BY RICH REILLY
Dennis Rodman is sleeping with
a truck driver.
     It's true.  Call him up and ask him
yourself.  He's in the white pages.  Den-
nis Rodman, Wentzville, Mo.  He's a
short Italian-American housepainter,
married to a lady trucker and stuck with a very troublesome name.
The other day it took him a half hour to go through the drive-up
lane at the bank because the tellers wouldn't give him back his
driver's license.  They were making photocopies.
     At night he's usually home alone, answering calls.  "Is your hair
purple?" kids will ask.  Depends on how messy I've
been, he'll say.  "Do you have women's clothes in
your closet?"  Plenty.
     You can give Michael Jordan a buzz, too.  I
did.  He'd just given a guy a shot in the mouth
and was getting thanked for it.  He's the dentist
Michael Jordan--one of 13 Michael Jordans listed
in Chicago--and you wouldn't believe what he
puts up with.  The other night he made reserva-
tions at a hot new restaurant downtown.  When
he and his wife got there, the hostess had
scratched out his name.  "Sorry," she said, "we
thought you were kidding."  They had a long wait for a table.
     "Yeah, well," Dr. Michael Jordan says.  "I could have been
Dr. Charles Manson, I guess."
     It gets weird like that.  The other day the director of a Little
League called Rusty Staub of New Paltz, N.Y., and asked him if
he'd mind putting on his old uniform and talking to the kids.  "Sorry,
I'm not that Rusty Staub," said Rusty Staub, who is owner of a
computer store.  There was a long pause, and the guy on the other
end said, "Could you come anyway?  We're desperate."
     This Rusty Staub once went to a business lunch with a banker
named Calvin Klein and another guy.  When they approaced the
maître d', Rusty Staub said, "We have a reservation.  It's either under
Rusty Staub or Calvin Klein."  The maître d' scratched his haircut,
looked at the third guy and said, "Who are you, Joe DiMaggio?"
     Don't be silly.  Joe DiMaggio lives in Syosset, N.Y., works for TWA
and sometimes wishes he'd been born Ralph Smith.  He won't even
give his full name much anymore "because they look so disappoint-
ed when I show up," says Joe DiMaggio.  A guy could get a complex.
     Joe, you've got to go with it.  Ask Larry Mize, a manager in the
AT&T office in Atlanta.  Twice a month for a year he had to fly to
Kansas City, Mo., on business.  He'd check in late at night at the
same hotel.  The first two times the desk clerk got excited and
asked, "You're Larry Mize the golfer, right?"  Larry Mize the AT&T
manager said no.  Finally, on the third visit, the same clerk said,
"You're Larry Mize, the golfer, right?"  Larry Mize was too tired
to fight it anymore.  "Sure," he said.
     "Great!" said the clerk.  "I've upgraded you to a
suite!  No charge!"  Larry Mize got that suite the rest
of the year.
     There are people all over the U.S. whose lives have
been altered because of what some stranger can do
with a ball or a sand wedge or a pair of figure skates.
According to one Internet source, there are more
than 200 Jerry Rices, 109 John Stocktons, 61 Willie
Mayses and 11 Orville Moodys.  There's a Herschel
Walker in Savannah, a Richard Petty in Valdosta,
Ga., and a Bobby Thomson in Wachtung, N.J.  Oops,
that's the Bobby Thomson.  He's actually in the book,
as are Bobby Bowden, Mark Fidrych and Byron Nelson.
     For the average Joe (Montana), sharing a name with a celeb
gives him a dollop of power that he otherwise wouldn't taste.  Take
George Steinbrenner.  He runs a lawn and garden equipment com-
pany in Stafford, N.Y., but he gets a lot of mail for a certain fa-
mous despot.  The other day he received a letter from a very sincere
woman who said her father's dying wish was to have his ashes
sprinkled in centerfield at Yankee Stadium.  Could Mr. Steinbrenner
find it in his heart to grant her this small favor?
     George Steinbrenner thought about it for a half minute, called her
up and told her, "All you do is wander out into the stadium any
off day, wait for a wind blowing toward home plate, take your fa-
ther's ashes, throw them up in the air and go, 'Adios, Dad!'"  The
woman, half grateful, half stupified, said thanks and hung up.
     Hey, George, think you can get us a new stadium?
Joe DiMaggio
lives in
Syosset, N.Y.,
and works
for TWA.
© 1998 Sports Illustrated.