Two cool dudes, West Coast born and raised, doing what they were put on this planet to do with a laid-back style that masquerades a burning desire for success.
That is how you would describe the incredible dynamic friendship and working relationship of Major League baseball star Eric Chavez and his long-time agent, Scott Leventhal.
They now reap the benefits of hard work by enjoying some of the spoils success can bring, and their story and relationship are unique in professional sports. The common thread that ties them together can be summed up in two words that are seldom uttered in the me-first, bottom-line realities of big time professional sports: loyalty and respect. They’ve been together for 17 years now, as Eric (Chavy) has put together a stellar career as one of the best defensive third baseman to ever play the game. He collected Gold Glove Awards (six of them) earlier in his career like Jay Leno collects classic cars. And he’s done it the right way, tapping into a deep well of God-given talent and grinding away for almost two decades. And what has made him a fan favorite with the Oakland A’s, New York Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks is a combination of his personality, down-to-earth attitude, work ethic and the respect and passion for the game of baseball that he shows whether he’s wearing his uniform or not. Scott and Chavy met when they were both content grabbing a burger and a beer. Their tastes have now shifted a bit, to fine wine and a great steak, but at their core they are the same dynamic duo they were when they first met.
Chavy performs on the field, while Leventhal navigates his career and negotiates multi-million dollar contracts. Through everything they’ve experienced, the good times of making the playoffs and earning accolades for great play, and the bad times of tough injuries and rehab assignments, their relationship has thrived because not only is it professional, it’s personal. For both of them.
“I try to represent guys I connect with,” Leventhal says. “This way, when things don’t go well for a player’s career, my goal is to have a solid relationship in place where guys don’t just represent a paycheck. Any agent can be there for the good times. The real question is, where are they when (the players) have a labrum tear or get released?”
On the surface, being a baseball agent and Major League ball player may sound like two of the more glamorous gigs you could hope to have. In reality, there are a lot of long hours for Leventhal, watching almost every inning of every game his clients play, and talking to them almost every day. And here’s a little known fact about being a Yankee that might make you look out the window of your Gulfstream, Hawker or Cessna and be grateful you couldn’t hit a curveball: “When I was with the Yankees, we traveled during the season on a regular Delta airplane,” Chavy tells us. “No fancy charters. No frills. I think it would shock people to know that the Yankees flew around the country on a standard Delta jet.”
Leventhal has carved out a life for himself that rival agents at the big agencies would be envious of. He and his business partner with his firm, called All Bases Covered Sports Management, hand-select the small group of players they want to work with, and they dive in head first, crafting their careers. It’s a 24/7 job, but it also leaves plenty of time for Leventhal to spend with his family, work out on a daily basis and rack up thousands of miles on his mountain bike. It’s a much different world than the one he started on early in his career after graduating from USC in 1991. He got his first job by literally cold-calling a large agency and impressing the owner. He was hired on the spot, and one of his early responsibilities there involved working on a daily basis with larger-than-life legends, including Joe Namath, Sandy Koufax, Jim Brown, and The Champ himself, Muhammad Ali.
“Muhammad had and always will have a special place in my heart,” Leventhal tells Jetset. “I learned a lot from him, but I also learned a lot about him. He was a natural entertainer, and his faith means everything to him.”
Think about that. Leventhal literally had an entrée into the life of an icon who was arguably the most recognizable and inspirational person in the world. While the weight of that reality would crush many people, it could also serve as a valuable early lesson for an agent who would never meet a situation in his business where he could possibly be overwhelmed or intimidated.
“Regardless of his health, he went out of his way to make everyone feel special, especially babies and small children,” Leventhal says. “I’ll never forget finishing up a three-hour autograph appearance in Chicago. I could tell he wasn’t feeling well. I began to wrap things up in an effort to get him back to his hotel to rest. Turns out, people had followed our car back to the hotel. They found out what suite we were in, and knocked on the door. When I answered the door, I told them Muhammad was exhausted, and done signing for the day. Muhammad got up from the couch and told me to let them all in. It was a group of about 20 people. He signed autographs, and took pictures for every one of them. He really is an extraordinary man.”
It’s easy to measure a baseball career by counting the hits and home runs, and tabulating the career earnings. It’s easy to sum up the measure of an agent by looking at the scoreboard of career clients and the fortunes he’s crafted and created. But there’s a special dynamic in play when you see what Leventhal and Chavy have, something so far beyond the typical relationship a player and agent share. “Scott has been my agent for nine years, but I’ve known him for going on two decades. When he was with the Beverly Hills Sports Council he was my go-to guy. That’s where we developed a friendship that has grown so much greater than a normal player/agent relationship.”
Leventhal summed it all up with this antidote. “When I resigned from Beverly Hills Sports Council ten years ago and started my own company, Eric came with me. During the transition, my financial situation was bleak. I had two kids and one on the way. Eric and Alex (Eric’s wife) invited me to dinner one night at Mastro’s. He looked across the table, and said: ‘What are all your bills and overhead?’ I looked at him like he was crazy, and said, ‘What?’ He said something to the effect: ‘Get me the numbers, and I’m going to make sure you are taken care of until you get on your feet.’ That’s Eric, and that is something I’ll never forget. After 17 years, I can say with certainty that our relationship goes well beyond a genuine friendship. He’s family to me. I love him.”