Remember John C. Odom, the minor leaguer who was traded for ten bats last year? It was all worth a chuckle at the time, but there’s nothing funny about it anymore:
Bat Man” or “Bat Guy” or “Bat Boy” — that’s what they called him.
Ask the most hard-core baseball fan about John C. Odom and most likely you’ll get a blank stare. Yet millions of people have heard of the slender right-hander. He was the minor league player traded for 10 maple bats. It became a big joke last May, when word of the unusual swap jumped off the sports pages, and Odom went from pitcher to punch line . . . Six months after the trade, he was dead. The medical examiner said Odom’s death in Georgia on Nov. 5 at age 26 was an accidental overdose from heroin, methamphetamine, the stimulant benzylpiperazine and alcohol . . .
. . . “I guarantee this trade thing really bothered him. That really worried me,” said Dan Shwam, who managed Odom last year on the Laredo Broncos of the United League. “I really believe, knowing his background, that this drove him back to the bottle, that it put him on the road to drugs again.”
No one can know that obviously, but the story makes a convincing case that the whole ordeal contributed to the decline of a guy who was already on the borderline to begin with.