A-Rod signs with William Morris agency

By Mike Fitzpatrick

NEW YORK – Maybe Alex Rodriguez wants an Oscar or an Emmy to go with his three MVP awards.

The New York Yankees slugger signed another big league contract, joining the William Morris Agency in an attempt to extend his brand beyond the baseball diamond.

A-Rod joined up with the powerhouse talent agency in Beverly Hills, Calif., and becomes part of a client list that includes some of the biggest names in sports, entertainment and business.

“Partnering with William Morris will enable me to broaden the scope of my career in creative and innovative ways,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “I’m excited to see what we will be able to accomplish together, both domestically and abroad.”

At Yankee Stadium, hours before New York played the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night, Rodriguez did not want to discuss his arrangement with William Morris.

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“Just baseball questions,” he said while dressing at his locker before batting practice. “I just want to win baseball games.”

Dave Wirtschafter, president of William Morris Agency, called Rodriguez “one of the world’s most iconic athletes whose personality transcends sports.”

“In the baseball world, Alex is synonymous with success,” he said in a statement Tuesday. “Our job will be to extend that success beyond the field to other opportunities.”

The deal, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, was completed this month and set up by Rodriguez’s manager, Guy Oseary, a music business mogul who has worked closely with William Morris.

Phone and e-mail messages left for Oseary and Richard Rubenstein, a spokesman for Rodriguez, were not immediately returned.

Among the star athletes handled by William Morris are Dwyane Wade, Serena Williams and Kevin Garnett. The agency represents such movie stars as Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe.

“There aren’t too many athletes that go Hollywood,” said Derek Jeter, Rodriguez’s teammate with the Yankees.

But Jeter understands why some players seek specialized representation besides an agent who negotiates sports contracts. He pointed out that ever since Michael Jordan became such a successful pitch man in the 1980s and ’90s, big-name athletes get offered all sorts of opportunities.

“Now, there’s more attention. There’s more media attention on everyone,” Jeter said. “In the past I think athletes played sports and that was it. You played your game and you didn’t really see them much away from the field, court, whatever their sport of choice was. Now, like you say, you’ve got athletes endorsing things. I mean, all that’s changed over the last 20 or so years. It probably all started with MJ. Now you’ve got athletes doing all kinds of different things.”

The corporate partners on Rodriguez’s Web site include Nike, Rawlings, The Topps Company and Oasys Mobile, Inc.

A-Rod’s decision to join William Morris comes at a time when he is now a staple of celebrity gossip. His wife has filed for divorce and his relationship with Madonna has generated blaring tabloid headlines and daily fodder for talk-show radio. Media reports linked Rodriguez and the pop star, but each denied a romantic relationship.

The 32-year-old third baseman is a three-time American League MVP who has hit 539 home runs and is on pace to pass career leader Barry Bonds.

Rodriguez is drawing a major league-high $27 million salary this year, and last December signed a record $275 million, 10-year contract with New York. The deal allows him to make up to $305 million if he reaches certain milestones.

“Surrounding Alex with the right team is imperative to reaching our goals,” Oseary said. “We are delighted to have William Morris as a part of our team.”