C’s fans that came out to The Nat in season ‘04 will remember fondly the name of Mike McGirr [seen left], who lit up the Northwest League with a season that ended with a 5-0, 0.66 record after 7 starts.
McGirr, an 8th round draftee for the Oakland A’s from 2003, was enjoying his second spell with the Vancouver Canadians organization, having pitched decently but not outstandingly a year earlier (5-4, 4.66), but during that ‘04 season, as he chewed up hitters and won game after game, it looked like his time had come. As he moved up to Kane County, it looked for all intents and purposes as if he was headed up the ladder in leaps and bounds.
And then, like Keyser Soze… [poof!] He was gone.
Rumour had it that McGirr had an epiphany at the end of his second season, and decided that he had a better chance of making a considerable amount of money with his business degree than he did throwing fastballs.
Personally, I thought the kid was loco. But then, I’d curbstomp grandma for the chance to make the Majors.
Well, it turns out that Mike McGirr wasn’t done with baseball after all. In fact, he’s just beginning his ‘professional sports’ career.
McGrrrrrrrrr is the majority investor and CEO of Real Sports Investments, a company that pays minor leaguers an up-front cash amount (let’s say $50,000), in return for a percentage of their future Major League earnings (let’s say 5%). If the minor leaguer doesn’t make the bigs, they pocket a nice bonus. But if they do, McGirr’s company makes a nice return.
It’s an interesting concept, investing in the future of a real life professional athlete on the rise, but what’s most interesting about the business plan is, McGirr is selling shares of each athlete to folks like you and me, for $20 each.
Co-founder and Cleveland Indians AA minor league sidearm pitcher, Randy Newsom, explained the genesis of the business recently to Baseball Prospectus:
Minor leaguers can make as little as seven or eight thousand dollars ayear. Some have families to take care of, some have to take jobs rightaway once the season is over to pay bills, and many of those that are alittle better off still can?t afford some of the things that could helpthem reach the big leagues, like hiring a nutritionist or going to someof those expensive training institutes. With that in mind, I wanted tocome up with a way that players could use their own upside earningpotential to try to help their financial situation in the present andkind of lock in some of that earning potential, like insurance.
Imentioned this to my friend and former teammate, Brian Pritz, and heput me in contact with another former minor leaguer, our CEO andmajority owner Mike McGirr, who actually wrote a business plan atCornell Business School along these same lines. We started talking,used his business plan as a model, worked some things out, and launchedRSI.
If he makes the majors and earns over $1.25m over his career, you’re in profit. If he earns $20m in his life, you’ll increase your stake by 1500%. If he becomes a Barry Zito-like success story, you’ll be able to send the kids to college.
And if he doesn’t make the Majors? Well, it might be worth the $20 just to have the experience of ‘owning’ an athlete.