SBJ/March 26 - April 1, 2001/Labor Agents

AMG Sports' baseball signings give it standing everywhere but football

Hollywood agent Michael Ovitz's AMG Sports now has a presence in three of the four major U.S. team sports after quietly building a baseball practice in recent months.

AMG Sports, a division of Beverly Hills-based Artists Management Group, has hired sports attorneys Joe Longo and Sam Goldfeder to head the new baseball division. The company already represents a number of NBA and NHL players.

AMG Sports' baseball group has signed pitcher Matt Anderson and utility player Robert Fick, both of the Detroit Tigers, as well as Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman Matt Williams. The agency also represents Antonio Osuna, a pitcher with the Chicago White Sox, as well as about a dozen minor league players.

Anderson was represented by brothers Randy and Alan Hendricks of SFX Sports. Fick was represented by Arn Tellem of SFX Sports.

Longo was listed by the MLB Players Association as the agent for both Fick and Anderson. The union still had Jeff Moorad at Assante Sports listed as Williams' agent, and speculation is that AMG's relationship with the former all-star may be for marketing purposes only.

Longo, who was hired by AMG Sports last year, formerly ran his own law practice, focusing on litigation and sports in Santa Monica, Calif. Goldfeder is a former deputy attorney general for Pennsylvania.

Artists Management Group, which is co-owned by Ovitz, Rick Yorn and Julie Silverman-Yorn, started its sports division in late 1999.

Ovitz, who lost a bid for an NFL expansion franchise to Houston Texans owner Robert McNair, previously told SportsBusiness Journal that he does not plan to represent NFL players. Ovitz said he still hopes to own an NFL team one day and wants to avoid any potential conflicts of interest.

 GAYLORD PLANS EXPANSION: Gaylord Sports Management, a boutique golf representation company, plans to expand its employee base, including hiring new corporate consulting executives, as part of an ownership change.

Gaylord Entertainment Co., a publicly traded company, announced in early March that it would sell the sports division to Oklahoma Publishing Co., a private company owned by E.K. Gaylord. Four directors of Gaylord Entertainment also are directors of Oklahoma Publishing.

Oklahoma Publishing, which owns about 6 percent of Gaylord Entertainment's stock, also bought Gaylord Films, Pandora Films, Gaylord Event Television and Gaylord Production Co. as part of the deal, for $22 million in cash and $20 million in assumed debt.

"We are looking forward to the future, and Mr. Gaylord is focused on making our business grow and be one of the best options for players in the industry," said Steve Loy, Gaylord Sports president.

In addition to hiring more staff, the ownership change may mean creating more synergies with Oklahoma Publishing's other businesses, which include high-profile golf courses, including The Broadmoor hotel and golf resort in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Gaylord Sports represents 33 golfers, including 11 PGA Tour members and five LPGA tour members. The company recently negotiated a major endorsement contract with Nike for client Aaron Baddeley.

 SOSA DEAL CONTAINS ODD CLAUSE: Chicago Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa's recently negotiated four-year, $72 million contract has a clause that allows him to become a free agent halfway through the deal.

The clause, which agent Adam Katz called unusual but not novel, was a compromise stemming from the Cubs' refusal to sign Sosa for more than four years.

Katz would not predict whether Sosa would become a free agent at the end of the 2003 season, as he is able to do under the new contract. But he said, "If salaries continue to escalate and he is continuing to hit 60 home runs, he will have contractual rights that are meaningful."

 OCTAGON NEGOTIATES DEAL FOR HERSHISER: ESPN has signed recently retired Cy Young award-winning pitcher Orel Hershiser to work as a game analyst for the "Wednesday Night Baseball" series.

Hershiser was represented by Joe Urbon, director of baseball for sports agency Octagon. Financial details were not disclosed.

 FIRM SIGNS YOUNG TENNIS PLAYERS: Sports Marketing Consultants Inc., a division of the Interperformances Group, has signed two young men's tennis players — Zeljko Peric, 13, of Croatia and Mikail Vassiliev, 14, of Italy.

The sports agency will handle the players' marketing and endorsement contracts as well as public relations and public appearances. Ugo Colombini, director of global tennis, will handle the players' business in Europe, and Howard Jaffe, co-president of Interperformances Group, will manage the two players in the United States.

Liz Mullen can be reached at lmullen@amcity.com.

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