Sports writer Jim Kelley has been confused with Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly hundreds of times. In the early '90s, Kelley, who covered the Bills for the Buffalo News, stayed in the same hotels as the Hall of Famer. While the quarterback would use a fake name, the journalist would not.
During Week 13 of the 1993 season, Kelley was in a Kansas City hotel when he received an interesting call.
|“||They told me that they were [female] twins and if I could assure them the Chiefs would win, they would do anything. I said, 'It's very tempting, but you've got the wrong Jim Kelly.' ”|
|— Jim Kelley, the journalist, remembering when he was mistaken for Jim Kelly, the quarterback|
A misplaced call to Kelly once led to the journalist breaking a story. An orthopedist mistakenly called Kelley's room and asked if he needed help with his elbow. Days later, Kelley found out that Kelly was experiencing problems with his shoulder.
Kelley's not the only one who has been confused for a celebrity.
"The front desk calls your room once in a while at 1 a.m. and they say, 'Mr. Seghi, we have Mr. Snoop Dogg down here and he doesn't have any ID to get his key,'" the Indians' travel director said. "And then you say 'You can give it to him, his real name is so-and-so and he is authorized to get a key to that room.'"
Seghi also has to keep track of the aliases. During a season, some players believe that changing their alias will help on the field. One pitcher stayed under Clint Eastwood when he was not pitching, but when he had a start, he changed it to Eastwood's character Dirty Harry.
"He thought it was more intimidating," Seghi said.
Although cell phones have diminished the need for hotel phones, the use of aliases continues to grow in popularity among players, said Mike Shaw, director of team travel for the Toronto Blue Jays.
"I pretty much use my cell phone 24/7 until my minutes run out, and then I have to use my hotel phone," said Blue Jays outfielder Vernon Wells, who has used an alias since a fan called his hotel room asking for tickets.
Because rabid fans have access to the names and locations of hotels listed in team media guides, part of the unwritten clubhouse code is that teammates are never supposed to expose another teammate's alias. Officials with 10 Major League Baseball teams told ESPN.com that their team's players would not comment specifically on aliases or even the prevalence of players using aliases. Others who did agree to speak on the topic were relatively mum.
"I can't really divulge what names are being used out there," said San Francisco Giants first baseman J.T. Snow, who has used the same alias for at least five years. "That's strictly for players only."