Good Samaritan Hospital
Team tellem has had its share of bad boys, but it also has included clients as goofy as Tellem himself. One exceedingly green outfielder from the Ozarks asked Tellem, "What are these things called credit cards? I'd like to buy stuff with them."
Tellem explained the basics of the credit system, including the fact that statements are mailed once a month. The player stared at Tellem in disbelief and said, "You mean you have to pay?"
But of all the mutts in Tellem's kennel, none scratched a bigger hole in his heart than Rex (Wonder Dog) Hudler, the journeyman infielder known as baseball's greatest gamer. Tellem used to keep a newspaper clipping in his wallet from Hudler's days in the Japanese League. Hudler had stunned teammates on the Yakult Swallows with a mad-dog prank. The headline read, CRAZY AMERICAN EATS WORM.
To finalize Hudler's free-agent contract with the Swallows, Tellem had to call Yakult officials from a hospital bed. He had undergone bypass surgery three days before. "I told Am, 'Come on, man, wait until you feel better,' " says Hudler, now a broadcaster for the Anaheim Angels. "Arn said, 'I can't. By then the team may sign somebody else.' A lot of agents take care of their big boys first. Arn takes care of everybody equally."
When the Swallows released Hudler after the 1993 season, Tellem worked the Angels. And worked them. Just before Opening Day in '94, the Angels signed Hudler for the league minimum, but with an innovative incentive clause Tellem had cooked up: $1,000 for every plate appearance. "Arn had a hunch I'd work my tail off to get in games," Hudler says, "and he was right." Coming home from a rough game, Hudler would grouse to his wife, Jennifer, "I went 0 for 5 today."
"That's O.K.," she'd say. "We're five grand richer." Wonder Dog went to the plate 136 times that season. Ka-ching!
In front of Hudler's home in Tustin, Calif., is a flagpole. At its base is a plaque. Inscribed on the plaque are the words BUILT BY ARN TELLEM.
After graduating from Michigan Law School, Tellem has landed a job at Manatt, Phelps, Rothenberg & Tunney, the L.A. firm at which Steve Greenberg, son of Tellem's Hall of Fame hero, practices sports law. "Arn got stuck doing tax and litigation stuff, which he hated," says Greenberg. "He did just badly enough so no other partner would work with him."