Agent of Fortune
David Sloane helping slugger Carlos Delgado hit new heights
ANAHEIM- Nothing against player agents, but some times they don't handle rejection well.
Some respond with insults and others with threats when they're informed a player no longer needs their services.
Greg O'Halloran, of Etobicoke, was an all-star catcher with Class-A Dundin in the Blue Jays system in 1991. David Sloane was his agent.
O'Halloran delivered news to Sloane at the end of the season that he was switching to Mike Watkins, who represents Bret Boone, Jeff Conine and Wally Joyner.
Sloane simply told O'Halloran, "Fine. I'll sign the guy who is going to take your job."
That guy was Carlos Delgado, now the highest-paid Blue Jay in history.
"I'd be wrong to ever say that I was ahead of Carlos Delgado, but I have hard that story," O'Halloran, now scouting for the Major League Scouting Bureau, said from Guelph.
O'Halloran's major-league career lasted 12 games. But what if O'Halloran had not changed his mind? If Delgado had wound up with another agent or stayed with his present representative at the time, Scott Boras?
Would Delgado be a Blue Jay today? Would he earn more or less than the three-year, $36 million US contract he signed Friday?
To fans, those questions don't matter. As long as Delgado is back, teamed with Raul Mondesi to form the meat and potatoes of the Jays batting order.
After mailing Delgado some information, Sloane first met Delgado at the Florida State Leagues all-star game in West Palm Beach in 1992. When the season ended Delgado dropped Boras, going from having the best-known agent to a little-known representative.
He's happy that he made the change. The end of the Boras influence came after the season and the reason was Deglado had done a card show in Florida during the season.
"I did a private signing for Upper Deck for $10,000," Delgado recalled. "I was charged 20%, which included a California state tax, even though I'd done the show in Florida. I was mad about that. I'm still mad about that.
I'd bought a house and was working on a mortgage at the time."
Delgado wasn't pleased with what happened when he tried to resolve matters. Boras aides Mike FIshlin and Carlos Rios showed up in Dunedin. At the time former No. 1 pick Brien Taylor was pitching at Class-A Ft. Lauderdale.
Do you think if Brien Taylor had problems Mike Fishlin and Carlos Rios would come to see him?" Sloane later would ask Delgado.
Delgado was impressed with Sloane, but before he committed he wanted the agent to come to Puerto Rico to meet his parents.
"Carlos is a unique person that, as a 19-year old man, before he did anything with me he wanted to have his parents check me out," Sloane said. Sloane has been an agent for 26 years and he said when he's in a players house, parents tend to treat the favorite son differently.
"Parents usually think the athlete an do no wrong, he's special. Sitting at dinner with his parents, Calos and his three siblings, you would be hard pressed to know from the way his parents treated their children who was the celebrity."
Carlos is the celebrity-just not at home. His brother, Yasser, 25, and sister Tania, 28, are still in Puerto Rico, while his sister Tamara, 23, lives in New York.
Delgado was an impressive sight when he arrived at spring training in 1989, signed for a $90,000 bonus by then general manager Pat Gillick and scout Epy Guerrero months before Puerto Rico came under the draft umbrella.
He was accompanied by his father, a drug and alcohol counselor, who was an equally impressive 6-foot-4, 340 pounds.
"I was so shy, I didn't say a word, just sat in the corner and followed orders," Delgado said, while George Bell and Kelly Gruber made noise in the clubhouse.
Ten hears later he is a franchise player smoking Furente Fuente Opus X cigars after contract signing.
"Of all the players I've known with the Jays, Carlos has been the most interested in our marketing plan and community service plan," Gord Ash, Hays general manager and president, said. "This guy leads a very organized life. He knows what he wants to do, when he wants to do it and how he wants to do it. He has a thinking man's grasp of the game."
And Delgado wanted to stay in Toronto. He did with the help of his agent/friend Sloane.
There was a war of words between Sloane and management ranking up there with such battles between Craig Fenech (who represented Tom Henke) and Jim Broner (Alex Gonzalez).
Sloane, who has 15 clients, also represents Shannon Stewart, as well as former Jays Mike Timlin, David Weathers and Ricardo Jordan and Oakland's Matt Stairs.
"I've never bailed anyone out of jail, never had anyone go into drug rehab or had a client arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, "Sloane said. "I've had good clients."
Delgado told Sloane that the ability to demand a trade at the end of the 2000 season was worth a certain monetary value. When the Jays gave Delgado that right, Sloane said jokingly, "it should be worth a new LX-470 Lexus."
When they celebrated the deal over lunch, Sloane said he had not decided between a red Lexus or a green one.
Delgado asked: "Anything else?"
And Sloane said: "I want a cloth interior."
Over the years Sloane has been hands-on with Delgado.
"I don't need a baby sitter, but I can find him if I need him," Delgado said. "When I was a 19-year-old kid in Class-A, I'd call Boras at his office and you could never talk to the guy."
Delgado and Sloane form a mutual admiration society.
"Every time I've ever been to Toronto, I hear what a great guy Carlos is, whether it's a Gord Ash, a concierge or a cabbie," Sloane said. "If my 12-year old Max grows up to have the same character, same consideration for people as Carlos, I'll be very proud."
--Bob Elliott The Sunday Sun Dec 12, 1999