McKeon may be most marketable Marlin commodity
By Mike Berardino
October 31, 2003
Now pitching for Viagra ... Jack McKeon?
That could become a reality if John Boggs gets his way. Boggs, a San Diego-based sports agent who has known McKeon for decades, recently signed on to handle the marketing of the Marlins' suddenly sought-after manager.
Viagra, the over-the-counter drug that aids male sexual performance, has a strong presence in major league ballparks and counts Texas Rangers slugger Rafael Palmeiro as a celebrity spokesman. The product could be a natural tie-in for the 72-year-old McKeon, Boggs said.
"It will be interesting to see how we segue into that," Boggs said. "They have Palmeiro as their poster child. They might say, `No, we don't want them that old,' or `Hey, Jack would be perfect.' It's a matter of getting into their mindset."
McKeon is fresh off a six-game World Series victory over the New York Yankees. He surpassed Casey Stengel as the oldest manager to win a World Series; Stengel was 70 when he led the 1960 Yankees to the crown.
Pfizer, which manufactures Viagra, is one of about 35 companies Boggs' office has contacted in recent days to gauge interest in McKeon. The combination of McKeon's unlikely story, good humor and advanced age should make him a magnet for endorsement opportunities, Boggs said.
"He did it his way," Boggs said. "If Frank Sinatra were alive, he'd love Jack. ... He's going to be pretty popular. The demographics, the different product categories he applies to are pretty abundant."
Scott Becher, president of the Miami Beach-based marketing firm Sports & Sponsorships, agreed.
"I think Jack McKeon is very marketable," said Becher, whose client list includes Barry Bonds and Emmitt Smith. "The reason why is his mold is so different from his peers. What he did at this stage of his life, both personally and professionally, is so very unique, and he did it in such dramatic fashion. ...
"He is absolutely every bit as marketable as the stars of the team."
Other Marlins in demand, Becher said, include NLCS MVP Pudge Rodriguez, World Series MVP Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell and rookies Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis. Opportunities in South Florida could explode for Jeff Conine as well, Becher said.
Willis has signed a marketing deal with Miami Beach-based Pro Access. Beckett appeared Wednesday on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
"Pudge is the creme de la creme," Becher said. "He's a Hall of Famer in waiting. He is a star with appeal in both the Hispanic market and the traditional market."
It is the Marlins manager, however, whose success could really open doors.
Boggs, who assisted McKeon in the publishing of his 1988 autobiography Jack of All Trades, is taking bids for a follow-up McKeon book as well. According to Boggs, about a half-dozen large publishing houses have expressed interest in the book, which could be available for purchase before Opening Day.
Neither an author nor a working title have been selected, but Boggs was optimistic the book would create a bigger stir than the previous effort, which he termed "almost a regional book."
"A lot of Jack's story still has to be told," Boggs said. "The first book got to a certain point in his career, but it didn't have him leaving San Diego, going to Cincinnati, ending up with the Marlins and doing what he did from May on.
"Jack is just a riot. He's a character. He's had a heck of a career. I mean, he worked for [former A's owner] Charlie Finley. People are going to be surprised by where he's been and what he's done."
Boggs, who also counts former Padres star Tony Gwynn and Chicago Cubs pitcher Mark Prior among his clients, did not help McKeon negotiate his one-year contract extension with the Marlins. That deal was announced Tuesday.
McKeon will return to South Florida for a Nov. 9 appearance at the Sawgrass Mills, and further area outings are likely this winter, Boggs said.
Regardless of how Madison Avenue treats McKeon this winter, he has already had an impact. His fellow septuagenarian managers, for instance, could start coming out of retirement.
"He has rejuvenated the old guard," Boggs said. "Whitey Herzog wants to manage again. Jack is a standard bearer for old-school baseball."
Mike Berardino can be reached at email@example.com.
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