Tom Reich, Who Made Big Deals for Baseball Stars, Dies at 82

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After the 1979 season, Mr. Reich persuaded the Astros’ general manager, Tal Smith, to give Richard a new five-year contract with a base salary of $200,000 (about $722,000 in today’s money) plus incentives.

But weeks later, another leading agent, Dick Moss, hires Astros owner John McMullen to join California Angels’ future Hall of Famer and baseball’s scariest pitcher, California Angels’ Nolan Ryan on a three-year free agency. persuaded him to give the deal. Guaranteed $1 million a year (about $3.6 million today) with the Astros.

“As soon as Reich heard of the Ryan deal, he called Smith, started shouting at him, and didn’t stop until GM agreed to renegotiate JR Richard,” wrote John Helyar in “Lords of the Realm” (1994). the business side of baseball.

A few weeks after the Richard deal was probably done, Mr. Reich and the Astros’ Smith met with McMullen, who agreed to give Richard a guaranteed $800,000 a year for four years. Richard suffered a stroke in July 1980 and was never on the field again. But the money was his.

In February 1982, Mr. Reich negotiated George Foster’s five-year deal with the Mets worth at least $10 million (about $28.5 million today); that was a yearly average, second only to the Yankees’ Dave Winfield. Mr. Reich’s other clients included Sammy Sosa, Mo Vaughn and Jack Clark.

An instantly recognizable figure in baseball circles with his curly beard that ran from his face to his curly hair, Mr. Reich also ventured into hockey in the late 1980s. His most famous NHL client was Pittsburgh Penguins star Mario Lemieux, whom he represented as a player and later mentored with businessman Ron Burkle towards partial ownership of the team.

Mr. Reich’s brother, Sam, has defended many cases leading to arbitration, the arrangement that was accepted in the 1973-74 season and still exists where players not yet eligible for free agency can exchange salary offers with management after a certain period of time in the major leagues. A referee chooses between two numbers. In many arbitration cases, he has used data provided by Sam Reich. Bill James, the leading baseball analyst, to portray his case on behalf of a player.

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