Lyn Watner's phone rings.... A milk company executive wants Cal Ripken Jr. to schedule a promotional appearance. "Nope, I'm sorry, he just can't," she says. "Baseball is his career and he's already at his wit's end. He needs a few days to get himself together."
And it rings.... "Who hasn't paid his bill?" A Baltimore Oriole is late with his car insurance premium. Watner will take care of it.
And it rings.... "I'll accept the charges." It's a ballplayer she represents. Inmate No. 01732-031 calling from a federal prison in Texas. "Hey, Willie, how's it going? Have you worked out yet today? Do you understand your contract? Would you like me to call your mom?"
To Watner, being a good agent not only means reassuring Willie Aikens' mother but also seeing to it that Rick Dempsey has a firm mattress during spring training, giving Eddie Murray a 5 a.m. wake-up call so that he can get up in time to do a McDonald's commercial, remembering to ask Red Sox pitcher Mike Brown about his arm and his love life and telling a young football player he can't buy a new car.
For sure, being the only female agent in baseball isn't easy. People are forever asking, "Look, lady, who do you think you are?"
Not a bad question.
"She's my agent," says Murray. Mike Boddicker says, "When I have a problem, I call Lyn, and she handles it." She has been called both a "life planner" and a "hatchet lady." Dempsey refers to her as a "secretary."
While women agents are commonplace in entertainment and publishing, in sports they're usually limited to tennis and golf. Few women have broken into the network of men who represent baseball, football and basketball players. "I know quite a few agents, and unless they're camouflaged in drag, I don't know any women," says Brian McIntyre, the NBA's director of public relations.
Of the 200-plus agents listed with the Major League Baseball Players Association, Watner, 32, is the only female. She is one of perhaps a dozen women—among more than 500 agents—certified by the NFL Players Association, and she is the busiest.
Watner has already made her mark. Kansas City Royals general manager John Schuerholz said he'd rather do business with her than with some of his own players.