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Newsom not giving up hope

Newsom not giving up hope

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Taking stock in his Major League potential is not difficult for Randy Newsom.

"I'm an anti-prospect," joked Newsom, who dressed with the Indians for Friday's game at Disney.

Selling stock in that same potential, however, is what has proven to be tricky.

Newsom, a right-handed reliever who pitched for the Tribe's affiliates in Class A Kinston and Double-A Akron last season, is one of the many Minor Leaguers scraping by on measly wages as they work toward their dream of playing in the bigs.

Newsom was not a high Draft pick, or even a Draft pick at all. His only signing "bonus" when he latched on with the Red Sox in 2004, after graduating from Tufts University, was the mere fact he got to suit up in a baseball uniform for a living.

So late last year, while pitching in the Mexican Winter League, the 25-year-old Newsom concocted an idea that basically amounts to fantasy baseball at its best. He decided to sell stock in his career, offering baseball-loving investors the chance to buy a piece of his future Major League earnings.

Newsom, who joined the Indians as the player to be named in the 2006 Coco Crisp trade, ran the idea by Bryan Pritz, one of his former Red Sox teammates. Pritz had a friend, Mike McGirr, a former pitcher in the A's system, who had written a paper with a similar idea while attending business school at Cornell.

The three men put their heads together and came up with Real Sports Investments. They ran some progression models on Newsom's '07 stats at Akron -- a 4-1 record, 3.12 ERA and 18 saves in 46 appearances -- and calculated the eventual earnings of others who had similar numbers at similar stages of their career.

Then they hit the market, offering $20 shares of Newsom, with each share worth about .002 percent of his career pay.

The stock went up for grabs on the Internet in January, and, in about a month, 1,800 shares had been sold.

Genius, right?

"It's been incredible," Newsom said. "I could have never imagined how many great baseball fans there are."

Naturally, there's a catch.

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Newsom's idea ruffled the feathers of Major League Baseball, to say nothing of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Newsom's online stock offering was not registered with the SEC, which is a no-no, and it might have been a violation of baseball's Collective Bargaining Agreement, as well.

So last month, Real Sports Investments went on indefinite hiatus. The $36,000 Newsom had raked in by the stock offering was refunded to his investors.

"We didn't feel it was fair to keep money when the duration of how long we're going to be on hold is unknown," Newsom said. "We're not in this to make money. We just wanted to do something that was positive for players and fans."

McGirr is scheduled to meet with representatives from MLB, the Players Association and the SEC on April 21 to discuss the matter. Newsom holds out hope his idea will see the light of day -- not just for him, but for his fellow Minor Leaguers.

"You never know what it will turn into or where it will go," he said. "We've heard from all sorts of players -- from non-prospects, which I sometimes consider myself to be, to everyone that's one of the [upper echelon] guys. It's been pretty uniform among guys that it's a good idea."

The idea isn't for everyone, of course. High-ceiling prospects who have already netted large signing bonuses and whose big league possibilities seem all but guaranteed might not be all that interested in selling off their future earnings for immediate money in the pocket.

And investors in a player like Newsom, who is not considered one of the top arms in the Indians' farm system, must be cautioned that he'd have to spend several years in the Majors for them to break even.

But Newsom's idea was never intended to net big bucks for anyone involved.

"We just wanted this to be a fun way to get fans involved," he said. "If you're looking at this solely on a financial basis, we probably aren't the investment you're looking for."

Still, as Newsom can attest, a few extra dollars in the pocket of a Minor Leaguer can go a long way.

"One of the things I was looking at was my offseason training, and that takes some funds," said Newsom, a Cincinnati native who spends his winters in Boston. "I didn't sign for any money, so I've worked a lot lately to pay off my loans from school. I'm at a place where I'm not sliding by on the skin of my teeth, but, at the same time, if I want to do some things to prepare for a season, I'm going to have to have some funds."

While his salary forces him to make the most of his money, Newsom is also a man who makes the most of his creativity. In addition to Real Sports Investments, he has an Internet business, lacersonline.com, which offers a variety of products available for custom embroidering.

Now that a new season has begun, Newsom's top priority is the business of baseball.

"Honestly, I've turned my focus to baseball lately," he said. "But I am really interested in hearing what Major League Baseball has to say about this. We're being as thorough as we can with this whole process, and I like where it's headed."

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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