Burton Rocks may look 10 years younger than his actual 40 years, but he definitely has an old soul. While most of his peers probably have no idea who Satchel Paige was, Rocks can tell you everything about the Hall of Fame player, including the names of his pitches (Bat Dodger, Midnight Creeper and Trouble Ball to name a few). As an author, Rocks has collaborated with some of baseball's greatest names, such as Bob Feller and Carl Erskine. He co-wrote Me and My Dad: A Baseball Memoir, with Paul O'Neill, which made the New York Times bestseller list in 2003 and he also holds a degree from Hofstra Law School. As members of the Friars Club, our paths have crossed numerous times over the years and the conversation is usually about baseball.
I've always thought Rocks would make a great politician as he seems to know just about everyone at the club and I'm envious of his talents when I see him work a room like a veteran campaigner, but Rocks prefers baseball. "Professional baseball is a big fraternity," said Rocks. "Unlike Washington, people in baseball want to work together. It's not adversarial," he added.
It was Rock's love of baseball that led him from sports writing to become a sports agent and his unique style is a self-described "hybrid of old school baseball and moneyball."
"Teams need role players," said Rocks, "no team comprised entirely of all-stars has ever won it all." Rock's has been adept at taking veteran players to the ends of their careers while at the same time finding new talent in the draft. His client list includes players such as Angel Sanchez, Kip Wells and Willy Taveras and Rocks recently brought six minor league players into big league camps.
It seemed unusual to me that a writer would go on to become an agent but Rocks explained that his journalistic experience has given him a special understanding of how to deal with the media. As I can attest, writing is a solitary profession and Rocks certainly excels at schmoozing, so perhaps the transition for him is natural. These days it's a rarity to meet someone who enjoys their job, and what's certain about Burton Rocks is his absolute love for the game of baseball.