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“It’s hard to find that.” Those who’ve sat across from him at the negotiating table sing his praises, too.Jim Bowden, an ESPN analyst and former general manager for the Washington Nationals, has called Van Wagenen “one of the most respected baseball agents in the industry. Baseball Junior National Team with Van Wagenen at the end of high school and later as teammates at Stanford. “That goes back to how he was as a teammate, and now as a friend, a husband and father, and certainly how he represents his clients.” Van Wagenen grew up in Southern California in the late 1970s at a time when most kids were heading for the waves or the skate park.
Though captain of the Stanford women’s swimming and diving team from 1992 to 1995, she, too, had been injured and could no longer compete. “Molly and I have a special relationship,” says Van Wagenen.
“I heard what pleased and displeased them about their agents and that got me thinking about how I could do it better,” he says.
“I became passionate about wanting to provide a role that didn’t seem to exist at the time.” In 2001, he went to work for International Management Group (IMG), a global sports and media business founded by lawyer Mark Mc Cormack.
“When a player manages to stand out on the field among all of the best players in the country, that’s special for all of us—scouts, team execs and agents,” he says.
“We get excited about what the potential might be for that person.” That’s one perk of the profession, but for Van Wagenen, there was another reason to pursue this career: Many of his friends were still playing professional ball.