Astro-nomical Talent

Terry Puhl was a productive hitter and outfielder with the Houston Astros. He's now a productive broker for local firm Sanders Morris Harris.Terry Puhl learned an important lesson about success during his 15 years as a major league baseball outfielder. The lesson has delivered some serious returns during his career as a broker, too."Things happen quickly," says Puhl, a one-time All-Star with the Houston

Terry Puhl was a productive hitter and outfielder with the Houston Astros. He's now a productive broker for local firm Sanders Morris Harris.

Terry Puhl learned an important lesson about success during his 15 years as a major league baseball outfielder. The lesson has delivered some serious returns during his career as a broker, too.

"Things happen quickly," says Puhl, a one-time All-Star with the Houston Astros who is now with Sanders Morris Harris in Houston. "As a hitter, you have to adjust on a weekly basis. A pitcher throws to you one way, then he changes and you have to change with him. The players who learn to adjust are the ones who last.

"You have to adjust in this business, too," Puhl continues. "You do that by trying to control risks. I want to make my clients as much money as they can make ... with the least amount of risk."

Puhl's ability to adapt has served him well. The sweet-swinging left-handed-hitting outfielder had a .280 lifetime batting average. When the Astros won the 1980 National League Western Division title, Puhl hit a record .526 in the five-game series against Philadelphia. Moreover, he made just 18 errors in 2,596 chances during his career. That's a .993 average, the best of any outfielder in baseball history.

Puhl also preserved Nolan Ryan's fifth no-hitter with an outstanding running catch of a seventh-inning line drive by the Dodgers' Mike Scioscia. He was such a popular player with Astros fans and the franchise that he was named to the organization's All-'80s team.

There's not a trace of bluster or macho when Puhl talks about his accomplishments. Just soft-spoken confidence and friendly enthusiasm. After all, this is a man the Houston Chronicle once said was somebody you'd want for a neighbor. Plus, his face lights up like a neon scoreboard when the subject turns to his two passions--baseball and brokerage.

The demand for performance in both fields isn't lost on Puhl. "My goal is making clients' portfolios productive," he says, without hesitation. "If you don't, this business will weed you out." Not unlike the major leagues.

Puhl's potential as a broker was first recognized almost 20 years ago by Don Sanders, then a minority owner of the Astros and a principal with EF Hutton at the time. Sanders is now a principal at Sanders Morris Harris.

An invitation to stop by Sanders' office turned into a battery of tests--"for aptitude," Puhl grins.

By 1982, he earned his license. Five years later, he became "active" with Rotan Mosle (later bought by PaineWebber). He joined his current firm in 1997.

Given his accomplishments, how has Puhl managed to stay so unaffected? The answer comes back to baseball. "It's a game that will humble you in a second," he says. "Just open the paper, look in the box score, see an E [for error] next to your name. That will do it every time."

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