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Yogi Berra And The First Sports Agent

With the passing of one of baseball’s all-time greats, Yogi Berra, the sports world has taken a look back on his career both on and off the field. His quirky sayings, dubbed “Yogisms,” have been circulating around social media, during this week’s MLB games, and on SportsCenter. The 10-time World Series Champion was a great friend to many in professional baseball and has been regarded as one of the best people in the game. His on-the-field career, including his incredible World Series statistics, often receives more attention than his off-the-field influence, especially on the sports world.

An article by Scott Feinberg for The Hollywood Reporter highlights Yogi Berra’s influence on the representation industry, which is something that all of us at SAB are passionate about. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Berra along with other star baseball players, spent their off-seasons working in order to make ends meet. The highest player salary was about $30,000 and endorsement deals were basically non-existent, so the need for additional income was high.

Enter Frank Scott. The avid sports fan started his career as a student manager of the 1937 Rose Bowl-winning University of Pittsburgh Football team. He bounced around many different careers in the sports industry, and served in the Navy during World War II. In 1947, he was hired as the Yankees’ road secretary, which led him to establish close friendships with many future Hall of Famers including Whitey Ford, and the Berras. The GM at the time, George Weiss, viewed these relationships as a conflict of interest between the players and management, and fired Scott.

After a visit to the Berra household, he found out that Yogi was being paid for appearances with wrist watches because he “didn’t know any better.” This led him to start thinking about a new business venture – Frank Scott Associates – to help players use their on the field fame to earn money off of it, and Berra was his first client. Eventually, his client list grew to 91 baseball stars, including Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays, Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, Eddie Matthews, Robin Roberts and Don Newcombe. He also signed football and basketball players, swimmers and golfers. He was not viewed as an agent by today’s terms, since he did not negotiate any contracts, but he greatly increased the worth of his clients through endorsements.

In what started as a one-man operation, Frank Scott started a movement in the “fastest growing business in sports,” according to the Associated Press in 1957. Few people were aware of Scott during his lifetime (he died on June 28, 1998), but almost two decades after his death, his business model has been utilized by sports conglomerates such as Steiner Sports and IMG.

Yogi Berra had an incredible career as the Yankees catcher, which was supplemented by his off-the-field persona that was supplemented by close friend and innovator, Frank Scott.