John C. Odom, the minor league pitcher traded for 10 bats, ended his life in Georgia more broken than any discarded bat in the clubhouse. Odem, apparently hit right in the trademark by the fluky bat trade story, ended up overdosed and dead in Georgia of a mixed drug overdose (NBC News).
The NBC story documents his life: pitcher in the Giants system, guitarist, free spirit, broken spirit. Once rooming with Giants pitcher Tim Linecum who commented 'It really is sad".
“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.”
Shwam added: “There were some demons chasing him, they’d been after him for a long time. But there’s no way to really know whether the trade did it, is there?”
At first, Odom seemed to handle it well. He gladly agreed to interviews. He kidded about the kooky deal and said it would make a better story if he reached the majors someday.
Odem witnessed trouble during his life. He was known as a long-haired guitar-playing loose hanging flake, with talent, but troubles. After the bat trade, troubles magnified:
“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.
Odom pitched five good innings at San Angelo on June 10 in what turned out to be his third and last start. On the bus after the game, Odom said he needed to speak with Shwam the next day.
“He came in and said, ’Skip, I’m going home. I just can’t take it. I’ve got some things to take care of. I’ve got to get my life straightened out,”’ Shwam recalled.
And with that, Odom disappeared.
Oden joins Angel pitcher Donnie Moore -- who could not live with the indignity of giving up a pennant losing home run -- on the mortality list. Sometimes sports, misfortune, and street drugs don't mix.