Since cofounding the baseball division of CAA Sports (part of entertainment giant Creative Artists Agency) in 2006, the former Stanford University right-fielder has negotiated contracts and endorsements for his players in excess of billion.
Van Wagenen chose the company because he respected the integrity of its agents and Mc Cormack’s brilliance.
But after Mc Cormack’s death in 2003, senior leadership changed and Van Wagenen felt the company was morphing into a different kind of agency.
As a freshman, Van Wagenen began dating Molly Knight, a fellow student from Ohio (her stepfather was astronaut Neil Armstrong) and a champion diver.
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.
“We started out as teenagers with high ambitions for ourselves and we had an understanding that we were going to pursue this life together..” After graduation, she went to law school at the University of Chicago and he followed, figuring “Chicago was as good a city as any to find a job in sports.” The two married in December 1996.
A communications major in college, Van Wagenen landed an internship with the Chicago Bulls during the Michael Jordan era.
The injury ended his college career and any dream of playing in the majors.
“After eighteen months of rehab, I realized I was a five-foot, ten-inch tall, marginal player who would be better off working in professional sports rather than playing them,” he says.
Since IMG had a strategic relationship with CAA, he and a handful of fellow IMG agents left the company in 2006 to form CAA Sports Baseball. They had three young children—a girl and two boys—and needed a home and a yard.
The couple had never set foot in Connecticut, much less Darien, before.
The experience has served me well in the world I’m in now.” In the late 1990s, Van Wagenen left the Bulls for Athlete Direct, a tech startup that built online business sites for athletes.