The life of a baseball agent is a constant grind. Tony Ciccolella of Excess Sports would likely put up no resistance to the making of such a statement. Ciccolella is a happy graduate of the Sports Management Worldwide (SMWW) program who has been able to achieve a fair amount of success on his own. I recently discussed his practice, his experience with SMWW, and other topics concerning the representation of baseball players in an interview, which is published, below.
Darren Heitner: Who do you currently represent?
Tony Ciccolella: Excess Sports currently represents Jeff Gray (Twins) Josh Judy (Reds) Josh Schmidt (Marlins), Jason Ray (Padres), Ryan Acotsa (Dodgers), Brett Tanos (Rockies), Bryce Massanari (Rockies), Brandon Creath (Cardinals), Michael Gonzales, (Twins) Mitch Delfino (Giants).
Darren Heitner: Why did you choose to sign up for SMWW’s course?
Tony Ciccolella: I chose it because of it’s ease in learning through their online program. At that time, I was working as a head hunter for for a large utility company here in the San Francisco Bay Area. I was put into contact by a collegue of mine saying that head hunting had many of the similarities of that as a Sports Agent. I was then able to meet with Dr. Lynn Lashbrook / President of SMWW in person during one of his visits to the San Francisco Bay Area, and he and I not only spoke about the program but the future and how entrepenuership plays a large part in what would be my next career. He spoke from the heart and never “sugar coated” anything which is why I respect him and the program. I did a lot of research based on not only the ease of taking a program that would allow me to still continue my current career and take very minimal time away from my family which was important. After looking at all the University programs and other online programs, this was the best fit for me.
Darren Heitner: What are the positives of the course?
Tony Ciccolella: The program allowed me to continue my career and provide for my family while I was still learning the foundations of being a Sports Agent. SMWW staff was always there to answer any questions I had, the online chats are fabulous as you gain insights from others that are in the program and advice from those that have already completed the program. Dr. Lashbrook provides his real life insights from his past experiences which is valuable asset, to hear what other established agents have had to deal with certain situations, nothing compares to getting advice from ones that experienced it.
Darren Heitner: What are some of the difficulties of representing players through the Minors?
Tony Ciccolella: One of the key attributes that we look for other than talent in a potential client is also integrity. Our firm is based on doing the best job for our players day in and day out and taking all those outside distractions away so they can do what they were drafted to do…play ball. One challenge is that players are often courted by other agents or firms with the other agents or firms not necessarily knowing that the player is already being represented. What ends up happening is that the player hears a great “song and dance” from the prospective agent and instantly thinks that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. In most cases, it isn’t and the person that suffers is the player…”where was this agent when you were in rookie ball with no equipment and wouldn’t even give you the time of day, now that you’re going on the 40 man roster, they want to ride the wave to a pay day….” We’ve lost players like this; unfortunately it’s too late and they want to come back realizing they made a mistake. It’s a shame that this happens, but we do our best to prepare our clients for incidents like this and have been pretty successful in retaining loyalty that we pride ourselves on.
Darren Heitner: What types of endorsement deals have you found for your clients?
Tony Ciccolella: Endorsement opportunities are a great benefit to our clients. It obviously helps promote the product, but also promote the clients stature amongst the public eye. Our clients believe in only endorsing those products that they believe in and actually use. We have the typical baseball products, Rawlings, Franklin batting gloves, Wilson, Akadema, and the various shoe companies as well. But what we’ve done is really exposed our players to the world outside of baseball with various clothing and accessory opportunities that most players don’t know about. We “pitch” clothing manufacturers on the opportunity to “tap into a new market” and by having baseball players wearing their clothing and such, especially with minor league players as kids are easily influenced by what a player wears. During the off season, we work with our clients on potential movie or tv appearances, especially if it’s baseball related or commercial opportunities as well. These have worked really well over the years and we look forward to continuing that model.