The Death of John C. Odom

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.

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  1. Jonathan Johnson said...

    So sad and ridiculous that total pricks who ruin professional sports receive so much gratitude, while an avergerage ballplayer is under so much torment and ridicule. His death should weigh on the conscience of every sports fan who only shows gratitude to the winner because inside yourself you may see a loser. Maybe that is why you cling to the winner?

  2. Bruce Markusen said...

    This is a terrible and extremely sad story, but the determination that his death was accidental and not a suicide indicates to me that his history of drug abuse had far more to do with his death than his reaction to the trade.

    It might be easier for some to point the finger at the front office for pulling this publicity stunt, but the more substantive issue has to do with the use of meth and heroine. Meth, in particular, has no redeeming qualities when used in a “recreational” way. It may be the most harmful and evil of all the recreational drugs of the last century. Users become addicted the first time they try it. If Odom had used it prior to the trade, the unfortunate likelihood is that he would have returned to meth.

    This may not be a popular sentiment here, but drug abuse (and the underlying reasons for it) are the greater issue with this tragedy.

  3. Levi Herman said...

    It’s just a sad story.  Regardless of the way he appeared outwardly I’m certain that this joke trade hurt him.  Most would grow stronger, but the unfortunate drug addiction got the better of him before his time.

  4. gbewing said...

    Yes we tend to forget athletes are human beings.  As a story in a newspaper it’s a funny human interest story but much of our entertainment is at the expense of humilating someone who is just trying to make his way in life and do his job. It’s too far to say it killed him of course but he’s not a bushel of wheat either. he didn’t need any help being reminded of his baseball value I’m guessing

  5. Crystal said...

    Yeah I agree that this is a unfortunate tragedy. It’s sad to see him gone, this young man went through alot, and I mean alot. This trade wasn’t done as a publicity stunt at all, the Vipers didn’t want the money at all, and the Broncos did what they asked for.. In my opinion I think Calgary should’ve accepted the damn money, and none of this Bat Man crap would have happened, at first he was able to put up with it, but after a while it started getting to him. It was also sad to see and hear people making fun of the poor man, he was only here to play not to be in the spotlight nor to be made fun of. I really wish that this incident didn’t happen and he would still be alive. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, I had the previlige to have met him, may he rest in peace, and we are going to miss you buddy! We love you John!

  6. Andrew said...

    Too many narrow-minded sports fans have this subconscious belief that all professional sports figures are immune to ridicule and hatred. Maybe this sad, unfortunate case will inspire sports fans to lighten up. A lot of fans can’t come to the realization that it’s just a game. Let-alone a game that fans cannot control the outcome of. I just don’t understand how people get so fired up over watching pro athletes compete.

    I hope he found peace after death.  It’s unfortunate he couldn’t overcome his addiction to follow through with what he had tattooed on his body. “With pain comes wisdom”.  A very true statement. If he had only endured the pain and come out stronger and wiser because of it, I can only imagine where this young man would be today. RIP JC Odom.

  7. adrian said...

    u know sumtin…it isnt fair that the media and the baseball world turn sumtin so small into this humiliating act on this young baseball player who had dreams to go to the majors….ive been a ball player all of my life and i never got ridiculed for the things that i do on the field but what we have to realize is that if u are a coach and u humiliate a kid unfront of his teamates then that is gunna stick with him for a long time…u cant crash a kids dream and then think it will be alrite…we r there to encourage these kids to become the best that they can be…even as we get older we should have grown outta the childhood stages…people dont realize how much a nickname for sum1 can really affect their psycological state of being..i find it sad and very unjust that this young man had to go thru all this turmoil because of a dickheaded coach who decides to ruin this poor kids integrity…rip jc odom..u will be missed and forever defended..

  8. Angela said...

    I had the pleasure of watching this young man play his first ball game after this trade, HE WAS AN AWESOME PLAYER.  This is such an unfortunate tragedy. The family is in our prayers.

  9. Jrod said...

    All these aticles are incorrect John Odom was the best person I ever knew.  This article did nothing but hurt his family and freinds.  The bats did not drive him over the edge.  He came home to take care of the people he loves.  We miss him and love him dearly! I’m angry that his character was defamed and wish people knew he was with people he loved.  The media has NO RIGHT to do this to us!

  10. mike singal said...

    John Odem was a good friend of mine. I am shocked and saddened to hear about his tragic death. I met John through mutual friends at Tallahassee Community College many years ago. The last time i saw him was at a Phish concert in Atlanta on 07-26-2003. We had lost touch over the past few years and i was actually wondering what he had been up to.

    First of all, John was a great guy. He had a huge smile and a larger than life personality that would literally light up a room. John was the type of person who would place his friends before himself. I remember how excited i was for him when he told me he was going out to san francisco to work with the giants.

    I have learned from a friend of mine, who happened to know john betterthan i did, that there is more to this story than just him being upset about this stupid “batboy” thing. His life was not perfect and he was troubled by other events in the last months of his life that i’m not entittled to know. All i can say is that a truly great person is no longer with us.

    As i type this my heart is heavy and my greatest sympathy goes to his family. I was lucky to have known a living legend like John. He always treated everyone with a huge amount of respect. He was someone who i will always consider to be my friend.

    The world will go on, but it will never be the same now that I know one of my friends was suffering so badly.

    Rest in Peace John. I’ll always remember being at that phish show in atlanta where i heard someone calling my name. I turned around and it was Odem with his huge smile. I’ll always remember that and i’ll always cherish his friendship. This is very sad news and it is truly a shock.

    People can be so cruel sometimes, and John didn’t deserve to have this trade bullshit happen to him. He was a gifted athlete and above all he was a good friend.

    I’ll miss you john. RIP

    -mike singal
    jacksonville, florida

  11. mike singal said...

    oh…and all the people who didn’t know john saying things about “drug abuse”….please STFU!

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