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Of Stocks and Saves : Goalkeeper Alan Mayer Can Balance Sport and Business With Equal Skill

March 12, 1986|MARC APPLEMAN | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — There's nothing unusual about a Major Indoor Soccer League goalkeeper citing numbers such as 3.94 or 4.66. Those, obviously, are goals against averages.

But what about 9.5% or 25 3/8? Has the MISL come up with a new formula?

Not quite. It's just that Kansas City Comet goalkeeper Alan Mayer is equally comfortable talking about stocks and saves.

Mortgage rates are dipping below 10%, the market is attempting to push past 1,700 points and Mayer is sixth among MISL goalkeepers with a 4.33 gaa. Those numbers are all meaningful to Mayer.

The former Socker goalkeeper--scheduled to start for the Comets tonight against his former teammates in the Sports Arena--still reads the sports page first, but the business section is not far behind. His talents have enabled Mayer to become an entrepreneur, and his travels throughout the North American Soccer League and MISL have turned him into a landlord.


- Rents out two homes and is a limited partner in an apartment complex in San Diego, where he played for the Sockers from 1982-1984.

- Rents out a house in Las Vegas, where he coached and played for the Americans in 1984-85.

- Working on the sale of a home in Fullerton, which he acquired while playing for the California Surf in 1980-81.

- Recently sold a home in Fire Island, New York, for double what he paid for it. Mayer is originally from Islip, New York.

The Mayers (wife Kathleen, 4-year old son Kenneth and 5-month old daughter Kristi), currently live in Overland Park, a suburb of Kansas City. They have spent a happy eight months in the Kansas City area and have therefore decided to break ground on a house in Lenexa, Kan. After all, Mayer has another year remaining on his two-year contract with the Comets.

"As crazy as it sounds," Kathleen said, "we buy each house as if it will be our last house. We decorate the way we want. Each move is unexpected. Up to a point, I've really enjoyed moving around. But it is hard to give a place up."

It's easier when that place is rented or when it becomes a profitable investment. With his success as a landlord, Mayer is studying to get his real estate license.

"Alan spends his afternoons after practice talking to stock brokers and checking on mortgages," Kathleen said. "He really enjoys wheeling and dealing and studying the markets. He is Mr. Organization with his lists and files."

When Mayer earned $300 a month while playing for the Baltimore Comets in 1974, he considered becoming a policeman and joining the FBI. Now, the 33-year old veteran is the Steve Garvey of the MISL.

"I began investing when I started to get a little money," Mayer said. "I started looking into tax shelters and what your money can do for you. It's fun to dabble into things as long as they are positive for you."

Mayer, the only goalkeeper in ever win the Most Valuable Player award in the MISL (1982-83), has parlayed his acrobatic style and shrewd negotiating talents into big money. Actually, it's small money for a professional baseball or basketball player, but it's superstar finances for a soccer player in the United States.

When Mayer, Juli Veee and Martin Donnelly were sold from the Sockers to the Las Vegas Americans before the 1984-85 season, Mayer received a bonanza of a deal. As player/coach of the new Las Vegas team, Mayer was to receive a $200,000 package, which included a signing bonus, plus two points in ownership stock valued at $100,000. Add generous phone and airline stipends and it's clear why Mayer was willing to move from San Diego just months after purchasing a home in Scripps Ranch.

"It was an unbelievable deal in Las Vegas," Mayer said. "I didn't really want to leave San Diego, but they made me an offer I couldn't refuse."

Mayer signed an eight-year contract, which included four years as player/coach and four as coach. He was relieved of his coaching duties when the club was 4-6. The team folded after its first season and Mayer was paid off through July 1, 1985.

"It was still a great experience," Mayer said. "The financial end of it was super and that was one of the main reasons I went into it originally."

What happened to a team that went 30-18 and featured Juli Veee, Fred Grgurev, Chico Borja and Mayer?

"If it had been totally up to me," Mayer said, "I never would have given some of the contracts they did. They (owners) thought they'd get investors and they didn't."

Mayer said he learned a lot about coaching and about how difficult it was to play and coach at the same time. Mayer said he was relieved when Don Popovic took over as coach Dec. 14, 1984.

"That was a big relief off my shoulders," Mayer said. "I was putting in 20-hour days. It was two full-time jobs. I was thinking I couldn't take the strain of doing both. They (ownership) said I should either coach or play. Obviously, I was going to play. It is easier to get a job as a player than as a coach."

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