I had plans to go out of town on Oct. 17 - my birthday - in 2001, but then the phone rang at my house at about 9:45 a.m.
The Curve were being sold, I was told, by Bob Lozinak to some guy named Chuck Greenberg.
"Who is Chuck Greenberg?" I asked.
The Associated Press
New owner Chuck Greenberg sports a Texas Rangers pullover during a press conference Tuesday.
Nobody in baseball knew anything about this guy.
Which makes this next part truly incredible and almost unbelievable:
Chuck Greenberg is now the owner of the Texas Rangers.
Anyone who finds it bizarre trying to wrap your mind around that, you're not alone.
The same guy who came to Altoona as an unknown a little more than eight years ago and turned the Curve into the country's best minor league franchise is now a major league owner.
Just because he's now a baseball big shot doesn't mean Greenberg has forgotten how it all started. Just the opposite, in fact.
"Without Altoona, there's no Texas Rangers. It's that simple," Greenberg said by phone early Tuesday morning.
He went on and on for several minutes praising our little neck of the woods.
"My whole experience in Altoona is what enabled me to be here," he said. "The things as a franchise and as an organization we were able to accomplish there are a big part of the story line that gave me credibility in terms of putting a group together and winning the support of Major League Baseball."
Greenberg, like his lovable GM, Todd Parnell, made a habit of walking around Blair County Ballpark shaking hands and chatting with Curve fans. His people skills are off the charts, as many locals experienced first hand, and it became clear this is a brilliant guy who could probably accomplish anything he set his mind to.
But let's get real: Greenberg doesn't have more than $500 million to buy a baseball team. Not even close. Not even remotely close.
What he does have is a most astounding ability to network himself, meet the right people and convince them to trust him. He was, remember, Mario Lemieux's attorney well before he came on the scene in Altoona.
With the Rangers sale, Greenberg wooed Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan and put together an ownership group to come up with gobs of money to purchase the team from Tom Hicks. The two sides reached a deal Saturday, and all that's left is crossing the Ts and dotting the Is with finances and approval from MLB.
How did Greenberg convince all those filthy-rich people to buy into his vision? Simple - he was himself.
"I like people, and whether it was from all different walks of life in all different circumstances, I've always prided myself on getting along with just about everybody," Greenberg said. "That seems to give people a pretty good comfort level.
"If you like people and you learn from them and you have some good experiences to share, it establishes a lot of credibility where people believe in you and they want to believe in you."
Greenberg, who sold the Curve back to Lozinak following the 2008 season, noted he never had a "master plan" that would land him in this position.
"There was never a sense of I've got to meet this person because it might lead to something later," he said.
Regardless, here he is, getting set to take over day-to-day operations of a big-league club. Greenberg will be the managing partner and CEO in charge of the business side, while Ryan will be the president in charge of baseball operations.
"My perspective will be a little different because I do have some ownership interest in it," Ryan told the Texas media Tuesday.
Greenberg will still own the State College Spikes and Myrtle Beach Pelicans, along with his sports consulting company based in State College. He said there are no plans as of now to have any names familiar to Curve fans - Parnell, Rick Janac, Jeff Garner or Jason Dambach - join the Rangers, but he mentioned they would be welcome if interested.
Greenberg and his wife, Jennifer, will be moving to the Arlington area, though he does plan to retain his house in Pittsburgh, as well. He once was a candidate to become president of the Pirates, his favorite team his entire life, but now Greenberg has an even better job.
And as he repeated several times, none of it would have happened without his time in Altoona.
"I can't even begin to imagine how many times - whether it was in State College or Myrtle Beach or speaking with other franchise owners - I began a sentence by saying, 'In Altoona,' and then going on and saying something that we did there with the Curve," Greenberg said.
In 11 seasons, the Curve disappointingly have yet to produce a superstar baseball player. With Greenberg, the franchise can be proud of turning out its biggest star yet, not to mention one of the most amazing and surprising success stories in the major leagues.
Cory Giger can be reached at 949-7031 and email@example.com.