SBJ/September 7 - 13, 1998/This Weeks Issue

McGwire, Sosa get home run deals

As the home runs mount for Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, so too do major endorsement offers for both sluggers as they edge toward Roger Maris' record.

The Walt Disney Co. is negotiating to line up a deal with whomever breaks the record, said Mark Leonard, president of Integrated Marketing Solutions, which is handling Sosa's endorsements. Bob Cohen, who represents McGwire, also confirmed that Disney has expressed interest in doing a commercial similar to its now famous Super Bowl spots.

A deal with MasterCard International Inc. is nearly completed for both Sosa and McGwire, and Sosa's marketers are also sifting through a handful of offers from automobile companies, joining Chevrolet, which has already negotiated with Sosa.

"In the past week and a half, things have just exploded," Leonard said, adding that Sosa has received five proposals from various memorabilia companies as well as a proposal from Rawlings Sporting Goods Co. "Everybody seems to be jumping on the bandwagon."

Meanwhile, Cohen said McGwire has been besieged by offers, but most will have to wait until the season ends.

"Mark is going to wait, and he doesn't want to do many," Cohen said. "We are getting three or four offers a day, and it's all well-meaning, but many [companies] have backed off, realizing that nothing will be done between now and the end of the season. The only thing that is imminent is the Disney deal, and Mark hasn't made up his mind."

Both agents are also considering making joint deals to capitalize on the popularity of the two sluggers.

"Logically, if both break the record, it is very possible that there will be joint opportunities," Cohen said. "Both guys get along."

What won't likely happen, Cohen said, is a Wheaties deal featuring Mc- Gwire even though the breakfast cereal company is a licensee of the Major League Baseball Players Association.

"Wheaties has always done something with the players association, but no special deal will be made with Mc- Gwire," Cohen said.

Like McGwire, Sosa's big endorsement payoff may also come next year. His Nike Inc. shoe deal expires in February 1999 and various shoe companies have already approached Leonard.

"We are not going to do a million things, but for every home run that's hit, the price goes up," Leonard said.

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