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BY JEFF FALK

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He represents the best interests of the working class.

He values their worth, and gets them what a capitalist market has to bear.

He allows players to focus on what they do best – play.

His pursuit is a noble one.

Many of you are about to find out all about Adam Katz for the first time, and who he really is. Perhaps the best way to characterize Katz is to think of people like Sam Bowie, Frank Reich, Kerry Collins, Derek Fisher, Jared Odrick, Dick Shiner and Jamie Beyerle Corkish.

Like Katz, they’re all Lebanon County natives who have risen to the tops of their sports-related professions. When it comes to sports agents and attorneys, Katz shines in ‘The Show’.

Katz, a 1977 graduate of Cedar Crest High School, is one of the top professional sports attorneys in the country. For 36 years, Katz has been representing professional athletes – mostly major league baseball players – in all types of negotiations with management and ownership.

“I’m a lawyer who works for players,” said Katz, via telephone from his office in Los Angeles. “My job is to advocate for a player, and protect all of his rights pertaining to the collective bargaining agreement. Salary negotiations are part of it, but there are a lot of things involved.

“It’s (personal people skills) an imperative,” continued Katz. “It’s extremely important to have that skill, with all the different kinds of kids we deal with. Having the ability to move from player to player and group to group is really an important skill set. The salesmanship in our business is no different than any other.”

Representing more than 20 current major leaguers, Katz is currently the Executive Vice President and Co-Managing Executive of Baseball at Wassserman. Before that, the former Falcon was the president and a partner at Reich, Katz and Landis Baseball Group.

In 2017, Katz was ranked as the tenth-highest earning agent in the majors, according to Forbes Magazine. It has also been estimated that Katz has negotiated more than $640 million in contracts during his career.

“I knew I made a list, but I’m more concerned that my baseball group at Wasserman is considered the best in a collective fashion,” said Katz. “We’re all trying to improve, collectively. I’m one of the older guys now. But I’m also running the baseball operation at Wasserman with Joel Wolf.

“The fact that I played sports in high school formed who I am,” Katz continued. “When I take anything on, I want to be the best I can be. I’m a natural competitor. Participating in sports as a young guy contributed to who I’ve become as an adult.”

Some of Katz’s current and former clients include Aaron Boone, Kenley Jansen, Yuli Gurriel, Sammy Sosa, Mo Vaughn, Hanley Ramirez, Steve Sax, Jose Quintana, Tim Raines, Chili Davis, Tony Fernandez, Willie McGee and John Wetteland, just to name a few.

“I think the most difficult part is that there are so few players to have in the industry,” said Katz. “If you’re a sports lawyer, there might be a thousand players worth being in business with. It’s very competitive. With competition comes all the difficulties, like hanging on to players. Your competition wants to take your players.

“For me, the most rewarding aspect of it is being the best version of myself,” added Katz. “Managing with style, dignity and aplomb. When I know something difficult is in front of me, it makes me try harder. In that aspect, I’m probably no different than most people.”

That type of competitive nature that’s demanded in Katz’s profession can be traced to his upbringing in Lebanon and at Cedar Crest, where he was an accomplished basketball player. In many ways, being a competitive athlete paved the way for Katz representing professional athletes.

“I remember just being a basketball guy,” said Katz. “Just trying to find my way like any guy. I remember being focused on sports. I enjoyed my high school experience and I enjoyed the sports experience.

“A lot of it came from the kind of family I was raised in,” Katz added. “My dad (Stanley) was a very good lawyer. I knew early on I wasn’t good enough to play (basketball) professionally. I knew I was going to go to college and I was going to go to law school. I was funneled into it and I accepted it. There was no push back.”

After graduating from Cedar Crest, Katz earned his bachelor’s degree from Dickinson College. Then he went on to law school at the University of Notre Dame.

“It was on my mind in high school,” said Katz. “What I got out of Notre Dame was that the kids were exceptional. I was lucky enough to get hired right out of law school in 1984. I knew about the sports business because my father was friendly with (attorney) Tom Reich. I got exposed to the sports business at an early age. I didn’t want to be a traditional lawyer. I wrote Tom Reich a hundred times and called him 200 times, until he finally gave me a chance. I had to earn my way with him.

“It (the career) suited my skill set,” continued Katz. “I was very lucky and fortunate to find a career that matched my skill set. I love sports. I’m reliable. I’m durable. I know my way around a negotiations table. This career found me. But it’s not an easy ride.”

Now in his very early 60s, Katz neither looks behind or ahead. Because of his drive, his passion for what he does, Katz realizes there are still professional challenges out there to be faced.

“I’m a guy who likes to be on a team, working in the same direction,” said Katz. “I’ve been super fortunate to get connected with great people. My partner, Joel Wolf, is as good a baseball agent as anybody. What I do has changed somewhat. I deal with fewer players. It’s natural that you evolve in this business.

“It’s important for me to work,” Katz continued. “I really enjoy it. I have since I was young. I love being on a team with a common purpose. As long as I feel I can contribute, I’m going to keep doing it. I still have gas in the tank.”

Katz may not return to his hometown as often as he likes. But Lebanon and his old friends are never far from his mind.

“I try to stay connected to about eight to 12 people,” said Katz. “It’s important to me. I love my Lebanon time. When we’re not in the middle of a pandemic, I probably get there twice a year.

“I value hard work,” concluded Katz. “I think I’m a product of exactly what I came from. There’s nothing without all of that. Zero. I place a high value on Lebanon and what the community did for me. It’s super important to me. I respect.”

Local boy makes good.

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