Feature

The baseball player who was traded for bats

John Odom has more tough luck and a new nickname.

John Odom, a pitcher for the minor-league Laredo Broncos in Texas, may forever be known as “Bat Man,” says Chris Talbott in the Associated Press. That’s because the Calgary Vipers this spring traded him to the Broncos—for 10 maple baseball bats. “I’m still in shock from this phenomenon, I guess,” says Odom, 26. “It’s mind-boggling.” Actually, swapping live players for inanimate objects isn’t unheard of in the minors; players have been exchanged for uniforms, oysters, and even sides of beef. But Odom has had particularly tough luck. Ever since the San Francisco Giants first drafted him in 2003, he has been plagued by everything from a chipped foot bone to a dislocated shoulder. He never even played for Calgary, because after he signed with the Canadian team, he discovered he couldn’t enter Canada due to a minor, unspecified charge from his youth. Now he has the burden of his bizarre trade: Ripley Entertainment has bought the 10 bats for $10,000, for a “Believe It or Not” display that may include a full-size wax reproduction of Odom. While at first worrying that he had become “a walking parody,” Odom now says he doesn’t mind the publicity. And besides, he says, there’s a lot more to him than baseball. “I don’t want to think this is what defines me as a person.”

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