The Joys, Perils of No Agent: Lessons from Boots

News broke on Thursday that star pitching man Zack Greinke will represent himself after dismissing his agent. It certainly seems like a bold move, but it’s not entirely unprecedented.

Remember ol’ Boots Poffenberger? The secret, unofficially anointed Hero of Notgraphs? Well not only is Poffenberger a straight-superior super such, but he also has a Wikipædia entry rife with delightful tales of debauchery, war, and regrettable decisions and heart-warming life-lessons.

What the entry lacks, however, is the details of Poffenberger’s self-representation, details which the Notgraphs Investigation Team unearthed and is presently sharing with world.

In Boots’s Wik entry, it notes: “After a strong rookie season, Boots held out for more money.” What it fails to point out is that Boots, who represented himself, also required several peculiar and highly specific clauses in his contract. They are as follows:

Section A.2.a. — “If the undersigned [Boots Poffenberger, who referred to himself as Bootsy Baby throughout the contract and one time “Cletus Elwood,” his even-more-outlandish-although-given name] twirls a perfected game, one such lasting nine (9) innings wherein no batsman reaches a base, the Detroits manager, a one Mr. Gordon Stanley Cochrane, will promptly invite Bootsy Baby on a wild weekend bender, extending a friendly hand post-game, saying, ‘Let us party this proper, Bootsy, my boy.'”

Section C.1.a. — “In the instance that undersigned Bootsy Baby manages to contact a Mr. Joseph Paul DiMaggio with a fast ball twirl thrice in a single day or within twenty-four (24) consecutive hours, the Detroits ballclub will award Bootsy, on the mound, with a freshly mixed, filled cocktail glass of St. Charles Punch.”

Section F.4.a.1 — “…and if [Boots wins] the Baseball Writers Association of America’s Most Valuable Player, the team will grant the undersigned Bootsy Baby a $1,200 and 12¢ bonus, payable at the season’s end, and will file to have the undersigned officially renamed ‘The Last Living Bali Tiger.'”

Section Za.2.g. — “As of the consummation of this contract, the Detroits agree to immediately print two (2) cases of OLD JUDGE Cigarettes containing no less than 500 OLD JUDGE Cigarettes cards containing an image of Bootsy Baby, riding Theodore Roosevelt’s horse through the rough and tumbled wilderness of the Southwest [picture below].”

Unfortunately for Poffenberger, the Tigers were able to find something near a dozen damning loopholes in the contract, the official version of which he had reportedly scrawled on a white hotel bathrobe (covering both sides), written entirely in one predictably drunken evening, so the club only paid Poffenberger a sum of $200 and 5 baseball cards through the entirety 1938. Only two of those cards are believed to still exist, and a digital version of the Gates cards — so named for its present owner — is featured above. The cards are presently priceless in modern currency, the last one having been exchanged for a double-generational life debt in 1996.

Poffenberger, of course, had the last laugh, as reproducing long-discontinued OLD JUDGE baseball cards with an image of Boots riding a long-dead equine war hero nearly bankrupt the club, which caused the Detroit Tigers to teeter on the edge of collapse until their unprecedented World Series bid in 1940 resurrected the clubs finances.

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Bradley writes for FanGraphs and The Hardball Times. Follow him on Twitter @BradleyWoodrum.

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Greatest baseball card ever, Bitches.

Nate Ader

This is fantastic.