HLS Plays Host to Baseball Agents

Panel members field questions about growing role of agents in sports

The Harvard Law School presented a star-studded lineup of baseball authorities in a panel discussion yesterday about the increasingly prominent role of agents in baseball.

The panel featured reputed agent Scott Boras, who recently negotiated former Boston Red Sox centerfielder Johnny Damon’s four-year, $52 million contract with the New York Yankees.

Panelists Donald M. Fehr, executive director of the Major League Baseball (MLB) Players Association, sportswriter Jerry Crasnick, and Executive Vice President of Major League Baseball Rob Manfred joined Boras in addressing about 100 students yesterday.

The conversation touched upon the absence of a salary cap in baseball and the negotiation of famously lucrative player contracts. Boras is well-known for negotiating the highest paying contract in baseball history, a ten-year, $252 million contract for New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez.

But the panelists mostly discussed the growing status of agents.

“I think it’s an important part of the game that really gets overlooked sometimes,” Crasnick said after the event. “A guy like [Boras] has had an enormous effect on the game.”

The issue of steroid use in baseball has dominated off-the-field headlines for the past several years and particularly in recent weeks, following major league commissioner Allan H. “Bud” Selig’s announcement of an extensive investigation into steroid use.

But steroids took a backseat to discussion about agents and economics yesterday.

“I think it’s an issue that the average fan doesn’t care about as much as Congress and the media does,” Crasnick said. “Find me one person who says, ‘I’m not going to buy tickets to the game because I’m sick of the steroid issue.’”

After the event, Boras jokingly acknowledged that local students might take a special interest in his visit to the University.

“Coming to Boston, the Johnny Damon issue was going to be at the forefront of a few people’s minds,” Boras said. “But the job of a good attorney for his client is to wear the horns of the negotiation.”

Boras revealed that he owed his presence at the event to his employee Jeff Musselman ’85, former Crimson pitcher who was drafted by MLB. Boras spent nearly half an hour after the event chatting with students.

“I love students, I love the passion they have for sport,” he added. “It’s nice to hear how they think.”