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His Way to Success Is by the Numbers

MIKE DOWNEY

May 30, 1990|MIKE DOWNEY

Do you know the way to call Jose?

I do. Jose Canseco's got his 900 number working again. It might be the only number of his they ever retire.

Remember, it's $2 a minute, so it'll be a pretty obscene phone call.

Yes, fans, Jose Canseco, America's dial-a-player, the hottest hitter in the game of baseball except maybe that Japanese import in Detroit, is taking your calls again at 1-900-234-JOSE, so order now! This outfielder is not available in stores!

Sorry. Got carried away there.

I gave Jose a call Tuesday morning. Called him right after talking to one of those cute babes from the swinging-singles 900 phone services, who hung up on me because she said she had to go change from her zebra-skin bathing suit into her leopard-skin bathing suit.

I used to go to the ballparks and speak to the jocks in person, but why bother? You want an interview with Jose Canseco of the Oakland Athletics? Hey, he's listed.

Pretty soon I expect there also will be 1-900-234-KIRK in Los Angeles, 1-900-234-CHILI in Anaheim, 1-900-234-TONY in San Diego and 1-900-234-OILCAN in Canada, among others.

A Burbank-based company, Audio Communications, Inc., is behind Jose's hotline. And the timing couldn't be better.

Because Jose is hammering away. He hit one last week at Toronto's SkyDome that shook up everybody in the stadium club and made the earth move for everybody in the hotel.

If Jose keeps playing there, they're going to have to build a bigger dome.

As a team, Oakland hit 10 home runs last week, and Jose hit five of them. He will be going after Roger Maris soon. Already Canseco has hit more homers than he did last season, and it isn't even June. He had 35 runs batted in in one \o7 month\f7 . And he is the only Athletic to have started every game.

Canseco is not just an Oakland A. He's an A-plus.

People are talking about how he might ask for $4 million or $5 million or even $6 million a year next year. He won't have to vacation in Puerto Rico next winter. He will just have it shipped to him.

And this doesn't even count his chunk of my $2-a-minute phone tab.

I rang him up.

"Hi! This is Jose Canseco!"

Hi, Jose!

"I'm glad the season has finally started!"

Me, too!

"I hope you like my new program, so be sure to check it out!"

I thought that's what I was doing.

Another guy came on the line to tell me how to enter the "Spend a Day With Jose" contest. A new winner every month!

I couldn't wait to find out how. Maybe next month, I could hang out with Jose rather than hang up with Jose.

"Here is today's Jose Canseco Menu!" the man said.

Oh, good. Probably chicken, potatoes, carrots, broccoli . . . no, no broccoli . . .

"To hear Jose's batting tips, please press 1!"

I see. That kind of menu.

"Jose answers fans' questions by pressing 2!"

So I pressed 2 and asked him to name his favorite color.

"Listen to Jose talk about being a twin by pressing 3!"

I pressed 3 and heard Jose talk about his twin brother, Ozzie. Darn. I thought he was going to talk about how he secretly wishes he was Kirby Puckett.

"Jose talks about Life as a Celebrity! Press 4!

"You can listen to Jose talk about being baseball's first 40-40 man by pressing 5!

"Hear how you can get great information on where to obtain baseball memorabilia of Jose and other great players! Press 6!

"Find out how to enter the 'Spend a Day With Jose' contest! Press 7!

"To leave a question or fan mail for Jose, please press 8!

"To hear this menu again, please press 9!"

So many choices, so little time! With the costs involved, it came down to a choice: Press all nine of Jose's buttons or pay next month's rent.

I pressed 4. It was a tossup between Life as a Celebrity and where to obtain baseball memorabilia on, you know, Ruth, DiMaggio, Mays, Jose . . . all the great players.

"Being a celebrity definitely has its advantages and disadvantages," Jose began.

And a good little beginning it was. Honest, direct, right to the point. Nice to see a guy address an issue from both sides.

Jose went on to say that sometimes people approach him in restaurants to request autographs when he's got a spoonful of food in his mouth.

I gather this is one of Life as a Celebrity's disadvantages. Whenever I've got a spoonful of food in my mouth, the only request I ever get is to wear a bib.

"Another disadvantage is that a lot of people misunderstand you because of the large amounts of money you make," Jose continued. "Just because someone makes two or three or four million dollars does not alienate them from having a heart."

I should hope not. If I made two or three or four mil, my heart would never be alienated, not once.

Well, nice hearing from you, Jose babe. To hang up on Jose, press plunger!

Tomorrow, I think I'll call Jay Bell's 900 number. He's either the shortstop in Pittsburgh or the phone company in Toronto.

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