He’s taller then Tom Cruise. Well, at least the character Cruise played in Jerry Maguire. He’d also rather wear jeans then suits, like Robert Wuhl did in Arli$$.
Meet real-life agent Chris Leible, who represents one of the most popular players in Mets history; Jose Reyes.
Leible, a product of Glen Rock, NJ, got his start in the sports industry as an intern, working for the New York Mets.
“I worked for their scouting department and helped coordinate reports for them,” Leible said. “I handled just about anything and everything that was necessary.”
Results were positive. Leible would learn more of the system and also get to know many players as they moved through the ranks. He would also get to work with and learn from Roland Johnson, the Mets former Director of Scouting.
“Roland is a pure baseball guy,” said Leible. “(He) had a great sense for the game and people, he taught me a great deal.”
Getting to know the players and how the system worked would be beneficial to Leible, but things would change dramatically. There were changes afoot in the Mets front office, Leible found himself, a man without an island.
“They made some moves, and well, at that point I was doing anything to stay on board,” he said. “It got so bad, I ended up cleaning the closets in the bowels of Shea.”
Shortly thereafter, the Mets had a hole in their public relations department and Chris stepped up to the plate, and started working with long time Media Relations people like Shannon Dalton and head man Jay Horwitz.”
Leible would spend the rest of his time with the Mets in the PR department honing his people skills. It was here also that Leible actually began to see his relationships build between players and the team.
“I got to know many of the players very well; John Franco, Mike Piazza, Robin Ventura, John Olerud and Edgardo Alfonzo among others became friends.” he said. “Through them I got to see how things worked with their agents as well.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that being an agent fascinated me”.
Leible’s thoughts as a teen were always to become a player representative. Well, that is after he figured out he wasn’t going to become the next Darryl Strawberry.
“Darryl was always my favorite player,” he said. “I still emulate his swing on the softball field.”
In the Fall of 1999, the relationships Chris had built with his days in the minors and learning how the interaction of a player and an agent gave way to an exciting opportunity. Peter Greenberg approached Chris about going to work for him and his brother Edward.
“The job entailed me doing public relations and marketing for them,” he said. “Actually it was about two weeks into the position and I was tossed right into the fire, I was doing a bit of everything”.
In January of 2000, Chris was certified by the Players Associations and realized his thoughts of being a full time agent were coming true. Now an average day for Leible can be spent from negotiating contracts to fielding questions from the media on a deal yet to be.
In today’s baseball business, many feel that players work for the agents and that was something Chris never wanted to become.
“Our clients are the boss, they dictate to us what they want, because when it comes to contracts, they are the ones that have to live that life.” he said. “I always felt that I wanted to treat our clients with respect that they deserve”.
Leible also stresses that he felt that going that extra mile for a player is just built in his nature.
In 2007, Greenberg and Associates were named by Forbes Magazine as the premiere agents in sports.
“To be recognized on that level and to be part of it, is very fulfilling”
The big deals can be thrilling, but so can the samller ones.
“I have to share a story,” Leible said. “I wasn’t supposed to know or even find out, but on Blackberry there was a message posted by one of our clients, that I didnt even know he put out there.”
Turns out Ozzie Chavez, a independent league infielder who through the help of Leible had just secured a job in the Phillies organization had written, “With God and Chris, all things are possible.”
“To say I wasn’t humbled is an understatement, to me that means more than any big contract or huge endorsement.” Leible said.
Did you say happen to say big contracts? Well the affable, Leible has been involved with several large deals. The Johan Santana deal with the Mets for one example, was a great deal of work, that required a lot of energy and patience.
“I believe when it comes to large contracts, you really have to know your client and being able to understand what works for them.” Leible said. “I always promised myself that Id put as much energy into every one of our clients.”
A memorable moment in the life of the Leible the young agent came at his first arbitration hearing.
“Brian Hunter,” Leible blurts out quickly, referring to the former outfielder for the Braves, Reds and Mariners among other clubs. “When I got the news, that we won, I was more excited than he was, I think. That was a hard fought case and we had put alot of time and effort into it.”
Going into a arbitration hearing can be tough and very stressful, Leible admitted. Noting that Ken Forsch, the former hurler and assistant GM along with Wayne Krivsky, also once a general manager “who really helped turn the Reds around” as two formidable adversaries.
The fall and winter ahead for Leible and Greenberg Associates figures to be a busy one. They are the agents for that shortstop guy on the Mets. You know, the National League batting champion.
Jose Reyes figures to be the one of the most pursed free agents on the market this
“I think Jose is one of those rare players that feeds off the energy of the fans, he loves the fans here in New York and I believe that feeling is mutual.” Leible said. “Jose also has a keen sense of his history here with the Mets, he’d love to be a Met for life.
“Time will tell.”
When pressed, Chris stated that he really doesn’t have a sense of where Jose will sign for 2012 and beyond.
“We’re going into it with eyes wide open, His first choice has always been to stay here with the Mets.”
Chris’s titles have also expanded on a personal level, as he is godfather to two of Reyes’ daughters. And the hot stove this season will also be producing some late nights and early mornings for Leible as he recently became a Dad for the first time. Cane Leible made his debut just several weeks ago.
“I’ve already got Santana ready to teach him how to throw, (Bobby) Abreu set to school him on developing a great eye and Jose (Reyes) teaching him how to run.”
The honor was also reciprocated as Leible asked Jose to be the godfather to Cane. They say it takes a village to raise a child, Cane already has an all-Star team teaching him the game and an All-Star agent Dad to represent him.