Bloomberg — If you don’t want to lose your money, park it in US short-term debt, advises baseball-legend-turned-businessman Alex Rodríguez.
“I would keep it in T-bills right now,” said Rodríguez when asked what to do with $100,000. “I would not do anything. Everything to me is still kind of very expensive.”
The former New York Yankees star first dabbled in investing in his early 20s, making a $48,000 down payment on a Miami duplex. “A few years later, I sold it for double and bought a fourplex, and so on,” he said on an episode of “Bloomberg Wealth with David Rubenstein.”
Fast forward 20 years and his investing career culminated in a $250 million deal for 20% of the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves that valued the team at $1.5 billion. Rodríguez and business partner Marc Lore, the Jet.com co-founder and Walmart Inc.’s former head of e-commerce, have been steadily increasing their ownership since striking a deal in 2021, and plan to become majority owners by the end of 2023.
Rodríguez and Lore also started VCP Ventures, which has taken stakes in several startups, including a new ticketing and fan-experience business called Jump.
A native New Yorker, Rodríguez grew up in Miami, where he was a star quarterback in high school as well as being selected by the Seattle Mariners as the No. 1 pick in the 1993 Major League Baseball draft. After making his big league debut at age 18, he later signed a 10-year, $252-million free agent contract with the Texas Rangers — the richest ever for an athlete at the time — before being traded to the Yankees in 2004.
He finished his 22-year career with 3,115 hits, 696 home runs and 2,086 runs batted in — numbers that would have all but guaranteed him a spot in the Hall of Fame if not for a 2014 suspension for taking performance-enhancing drugs. Rodríguez, 47, called the episode “one of darkest, saddest points of my career.”
In the interview with Rubenstein, a co-founder of Carlyle Group Inc., Rodríguez also touched on his personal life, investing philosophy, how baseball players spend their time on the road and the tactics they use to avoid autograph seekers.
The interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
You built a network of A-List business contacts during your career, including billionaires Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. What did you learn?
Warren always talked about going out and buying the greatest business you can with the best management team, and pay a fair price. Don’t buy an average business and pay a great price.
The reason why Warren and I got to know each other is because he insured my contract. I reached out to him and said, “Now that we’re business partners, maybe I can come see you in Omaha.” I got an email back that said “How’s October? And I said I’ll be there, since we’re not making the playoffs. And that led to five or six years of going to Omaha.
One thing I always remember Warren telling me is there are two rules of investing: 1) Never lose money, and 2) Don’t forget rule number one.
What is the biggest investment mistake people make?
A lot of people overestimate their ability. Just because I’m good at baseball doesn’t mean I’m gonna to be good at investing. You’ve got to work really hard and surround yourself with the best people. Just like you want to win a championship in baseball, the same formula works in business.
I saw you at a JPMorgan conference, and you were taking notes. Where does that kind of preparation come from?
My teammates would make fun of me all the time. They’re like: “Why do you watch so much baseball?”
I was always a study guy. I wanted to do my due diligence — even when I was playing. I would get home and watch all the West Coast games because they were still going on. The reason why I was doing that is if I was facing you next week, I wanted to watch every pitch, every tendency.
I had binders and would sit there and take notes.
How difficult was it to be suspended for the 2014 season for performance-enhancing drugs and then see that keep you out of the Hall of Fame?
It was not only the most embarrassing time of my life, it was one of the darkest, saddest points of my career. Here I was on my way to play almost 25 years in the big leagues, on my way to, potentially, the Hall of Fame.
When I look back at it now almost a decade later, it’s hard to believe I’m gonna say this, but it’s probably the best thing that happened to me because of the lessons learned. The way I was able to turn the lens inward and have a lot of therapy.
I may have cost myself the Hall of Fame. And I have no one to blame but myself.
You were already one of the greatest baseball players ever, why turn to PEDs (Performance-Enhancing Drugs)?
It wasn’t really about ‘I want to play better’ because I always played well. I won the batting title at 19, and I had another great year at 41. So, obviously, I had a very unique, God-given talent.
But in order for me to get up and play every day, that was a very difficult time, especially after my two hip surgeries and two knee surgeries. I never saw it as. ‘This is going to make me do this or that.’ But nevertheless, it doesn’t matter how you break it down. I made the mistake. I take full accountability.
You were a star shortstop and quarterback in high school, but ended up picking baseball. Why?
There weren’t a lot of Dominican quarterbacks in the NFL. And my mom made me aware of this. I remember she brought a roster and goes: “Show me how many Dominican quarterbacks there are.” I went through the list and didn’t find any.
Then she gave me the MLB roster, and I found about 100 Dominicans. I said: “All right, Mom, I’ll just focus on baseball.”
So what do baseball players do on the road when they’re not playing baseball?
Pitchers are great golfers, so they’re golfing all the time. On the plane, there’s some drinking and playing cards. I was never a gambler. I was always nervous with my money. For me, I loved the grind, I loved the focus, I loved getting there early.
How difficult is it for you to avoid people who want your autograph?
When we had such a great team in New York, it was a little bit like the Beatles. When we’d land and ride the bus to the hotel, there would sometimes be hundreds of people waiting there. So you’d sneak around and go in the back door, go through the kitchen. But it was important for us to sign autographs, meet kids, take pictures. That’s part of the gig.
You were a star at such a young age. When did you start getting contacted by agents?
The first agent that came to me was Scott Boras. I was playing for the US Olympic team, and we were down in Monterrey, Mexico. First time I’m basically out without my parents and in a different country.
I’m at the hotel at a buffet line, and a gentleman taps me on the shoulder and says: “Hey, my name is Scott Boras. I want to be your lawyer.”
I said, “Oh. First of all, I don’t need a lawyer, and I can’t afford a lawyer.” And he goes, “No, more like an agent.” And I’m like, “Well, I don’t need an agent. For what? I’m 15 years old.”
And that was the start of my relationship with Scott Boras.
“Bloomberg Wealth With David Rubenstein.” Rodríguez’s interview airs May 2 at at 9 p.m. ET on Bloomberg Television.
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