Sports Agent Bob Woolf Dies At 65
BOSTON (AP) _ Bob Woolf, a lawyer who helped define the role of the sports agent with clients ranging from Boston Celtics basketball star Larry Bird to CNN talk show host Larry King, died Tuesday. He was 65.
He suffered a heart attack in his sleep on his boat, which was moored at Fisher Island, Fla., an affluent Miami residential area. He was pronounced dead at South Shore Hospital in Miami Beach, the Dade County Medical Examiner’s Office said.
″In the beginning, it was a business relationship, but it grew into a great friendship,″ Bird said in a statement. ″He really cared about the happiness of his clients and I am grateful to him for his guidance and friendship.″
Woolf’s clients also included baseball Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski, quarterback Jim Plunkett, Celtics great John Havlicek, basketball star Julius ″Dr. J″ Erving and former baseball stars Ken Harrelson, Thurman Munson and Mark Fidrych.
″I know every contract of every professional ballplayer in America,″ Woolf told an interviewer in 1983.
He also handled entertainment figures such as New Kids On The Block and media personalities including Gene Shalit of the ″Today Show.″
Woolf entered the new field of sports law in 1965 when Boston Red Sox pitcher Earl Wilson asked him to handle off-field activities, including product endorsements and speaking engagements. In 1966, Woolf represented Wilson in contract negotiations, at the time an unprecedented role for a player’s attorney.
″He was a trailblazer and what he did benefited players immensely, and will continue to benefit players,″ said Peter Roisman, an agent who represented the late Reggie Lewis.
In addition to negotiating contracts, Woolf managed his clients’ personal finances. Some athletes, including Erving, fired him because of his refusal to renegotiate for more money in the middle of their contracts.
″He created a set of ethical standards that very few of his colleagues in the business were adhering to,″ said Richard Lapchick, director of the Center for Sport in Society at Northeastern University.
Woolf is survived by his wife, Anne, and three grown children.
A funeral was scheduled for Friday at Temple Emeth in Brookline.