Last year, minor league baseball team the Calgary Vipers traded pitcher John C. Odom to the Laredo Broncos in exchange for 10 maple baseball bats worth $665. At first, Odom took the odd trade in stride, even joking about his new, embarrassing nickname of Batman. Three weeks after the trade though, he quit. And six months after that, Odom was dead of an accidental overdose of heroin, methamphetamine, the stimulant benzylpiperazine and alcohol. Before his death, the bats were bought by Ripley's Believe it or Not for $10,000 that went to the team's children's charity. Ben Walker of the Associated Press tells the whole sad story. Form the AP:
Calgary team president Peter Young and Laredo general manager Jose Melendez nearly traded (Odom) for a slugger, but it fell apart. Melendez proposed buying Odom’s contract for $1,000. Young rejected that, saying the Vipers didn’t do cash deals because they made the team look financially unstable.
Bats, though, the Vipers could use. At $665 for 10 bats–made by Prairie Sticks, double-dipped black, 34 inches long, model C243, Laredo agreed to the unusual deal.
“This was not done as a publicity stunt,” said Young, now the Vipers’ director of baseball operations. “I talked to John several times and told him this wasn’t done to embarrass him..."
On June 5 in Amarillo, the “Batman” theme played while Odom warmed up for Laredo, and he tipped his cap to the sound booth. But he was battered for eight runs in 3 1-3 innings and mercilessly taunted by the crowd. (Broncos manager Dan) Shwam went to the mound.
“The chants, the catcalls, they were terrible. I had to get him out of there for his own good. He was falling apart, right in front of our eyes,” Shwam said.