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Agent Delivers for Ballplayers With a Yen to Prolong Careers

August 28, 1988|PAUL McLEOD | Times Staff Writer

As his client list grew, so did Professional Sports Management. Besides relocating in Manhattan Beach recently, the company also has an office in Tokyo. Meersand is not a lawyer, but he has a staff of attorneys internationally. He says it is his goal to offer "a full-service agency" to his clients. The corporation offers tax planning, accounting, investment planning and endorsement services for each player. After the Mets won the World Series in 1986, for example, Meersand secured more than $400,000 in product endorsements for Dykstra.

"The best thing I can say about Alan is that he busts his rear end for his players," Dykstra said. "Anytime I need him, he is always there. He cares for you more than what happens on the field. He cares for his players as more than just a person, and that's why I'll never leave him."

Success means Meersand no longer solicits players' business. They come looking for him. He has turned down Japanese players looking to sign in the major leagues here.

He also insists that American players "give something back" to fans in this country. That is one way most players can prolong their careers in the U.S. majors, Meersand said, because they will be perceived as good guys in the press and with baseball executives.

A classic example of Meersand's strategy was turned in by Orosco when he was with the New York Mets. A Hispanic, Orosco purchased a thousand seats for each home game at Shea Stadium under the direction of Meersand. He gave the tickets away to underprivileged Hispanic children in the New York area.

"I don't want to represent any jerks," Meersand said. "I'm fortunate that now I am in the position that I can represent the clients I want. I want good citizens."

A favorite target of Meersand is what he sees as an overzealous media. Although he admits there have been "more than a few" bad agents, he says the media has unfairly portrayed the majority as "greedy, avaricious hucksters" as well as creating the sense that professional athletes are overpaid.

"I got burned a lot in the beginning," he said of a stormy relationship with the press. "I learned to trust a few writers. There are certain writers in New York, however, that I wouldn't talk to if they sent me cash in an envelope. The media invents stories and creates controversy."

Meersand prefers to set his ego aside and sidestep the controversy. In doing so, he has created a happy group of clients in a business that once was a child's game.

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