June 14th, 2009

Personal Profile: Perry Van Hook

Sunday, June 14th, 2009

Name: Perry Van Hook
Nickname: Captain Hook
Job title(s): FantasyBaseball.com and FantasyFootball.com — premium contributor
Full-time in fantasy? Yes
Age: 62
Education: UCLA
Family status: Married, grandfather
Favorite fantasy sport to play: Baseball — auction leagues
Favorite sport to watch: Baseball, although playoff hockey is great
b 1) Bruins; 2) whoever is playing USC
All-time favorite athlete: Warren Spahn
Years playing fantasy: more than 25

I got my start in the fantasy industry when: I joined Todd Zola and Jason Grey at Mastersball.com

Since then, my fantasy résumé includes:
Baseball: Mastersball > FantasyBaseball.com … also auctioneer for LABR and NFBC
2009 first season as participant in both LABR and TOUT competitions
Football: FFChamps > FantasyFootball.com … also auctioneer for WCOFF and NFFC … developed concept for GridIron League for WCOFF

Before fantasy, I worked in: the wine business — Regional Sales Manager for premium wine/beer and specialty spirits wholesaler in Los Angeles; former sommelier

Three questions

1) You’ve been playing fantasy baseball for about as long as some of us have been alive. How did you come to the game back when so few people actually knew about it? What hooked you? (No pun intended.)
I started playing duplicate then tournament bridge in college and then continued. That very competitive group was also heavily into sports, so we gravitated to fantasy baseball and fantasy football very naturally — and very early. So the competitive nature and complexities of a new game/hobby were what we liked. Together with several of those friends we still compete in an AL keeper league in Los Angeles.

2) Can you guide us through your career within the fantasy sports industry? Did you ever imagine the industry would find the immense expansion it has in the 21st century?
Well I was spending a lot of time on the game/hobby, so it was natural to look for other opportunities, and I had a strong writing background, so the combination was enjoyable. I met many people in the industry at Ron Shandler’s AFL seminar in Arizona, which I have attended for more than 10 years. My first attempts were just to get published and more involved with the other analysts and writers and the opportunities just continued to grow.

Like most who started doing stats by box scores or the early weekly stats that were published, without the internet we could not have foreseen the proliferation of fantasy options that we have today. Heck, in those days there were very few companies that offered stats for leagues, and that had a similar growth phase before being reduced to just the bigger companies.

3) Money aside (at least as much as possible), what do you find most enjoyable and/or satisfying: Doling out useful fantasy advice, beating other fantasy pros in expert leagues or competing in the high-stakes competitions?
Well there isn’t enough money for most of the writers or small business owners to get excited about, but there is a strong sense of community among the writers and analysts, especially in fantasy baseball — and that is the background of TOUT Wars and many of the other “industry leagues” — a healthy competition (with no money on the line).

Actually I enjoy all of those, but certainly helping a subscriber with a trade or a strategy for their team and then having them share that success is very rewarding. The live advice we do on both the baseball and football sites is a great way to interact with customers and help them.

I do love the high stakes leagues, although to date my success has been more in the auction leagues than the premier draft events. I will keep trying, though.

Bonus: As a longtime Dodgers fan and a current resident of Arizona, where do you sit on the controversy surrounding the team’s abandonment of Dodgertown (Vero Beach, Fla.) for the desert (Glendale, Ariz.)?
While I have empathy for the people in Vero Beach and the longtime Dodger fans living in Florida, that facility was old and in need of a number of changes, and I fully understand and support the McCourt’s decision to relocate the team in Arizona — much closer to the Los Angeles fan base. On the Arizona side, I am very happy that their new location is on the west side of town, giving us two more teams to see without a long drive. And the facilities at Camelback Ranch are excellent, and that immediate area will see tremendous growth in the next few years and was very successful in its first year.