Nov. 16, 2001
Barry Bonds Strikes Out on Endorsements
He may have hit 73 homers last season, handily breaking Mark McGuire's record of 70 baggers with two to spare, but Barry Bonds doesn't seem to have the same luck - or skill - winning lucrative endorsement contracts.
McGuire picked up nearly $5 million in endorsements, reports Peter Keating in the December edition of the magazine Business 2.0.
The magazine notes that even though Sosa failed in his effort to break the home run record, he signed even more juicy contracts than McGuire - thanks to his upbeat personality and his super-competent agent, Adam Katz. Keating adds that Tiger Woods got a dizzying $64 million in endorsement contracts last year alone.
Yet Bonds hasn't gotten much more than some Disney World Commercials and his Wheaties box contract, and now finds himself in company with Olympic pole vault champion Stacy Dragila when it comes to winning endorsements. Winning the endorsement sweepstakes requires a lot more than merely breaking records, Keating notes.
Keating says success in gaining endorsements can be sometimes cynically formulaic.
The formula includes a lot of posturing, such as boosting your team, being readily available to the media, showing respect for your sport and the fans, showing affection for your family, and revealing touching episodes such as being inspired to do great things by some mentor. This past season, Bonds did all the above, promising to cough up $10,000 to United Way for every homer he hit after Sept. 11, lauded his teammates, displayed his year-old daughter, "hugged his teammates, called his dad, and smiled like a champ."
Still, Bonds failed to reach home plate in the endorsement game. At the top of the list of obstacles separating Bonds from big bucks may have been Bonds himself, Keating speculates. The new home run king is less than regal in his treatment of others. Bonds' manner is, to put it bluntly, arrogant, writes Keating.
He demands regal perks, with spacious quarters in the Giants locker room fully equipped with his personal giant TV and VCR, a $3,000 black leather recliner, his personal masseur, nutritionist and weight trainer, and with all those inducements still can't always bring himself to chase fly balls or shag ground balls. For the last two years he refused to pose for the team picture, explaining to a reporter, "Do you like everybody you work with? Well, neither do I." That kind of behavior, Keating notes, led Sports Illustrated writer Rick Reilly to speculate that "Someday they'll be able to hold Bonds' funeral in a fitting room."