Minor leaguer traded to Laredo for 10 baseball bats
By CHRISTOPHER SHERMAN Associated Press Writer, © The Associated Press
Updated 05/24/2008 11:06:04 PM CDT
Even though small independent baseball leagues notoriously try to draw fans with promotions like "vasectomy night" and "midget wrestling," these two teams had good reason to swap a right-handed pitcher for 10 bats.
The Calgary Vipers of the Golden Baseball League couldn't get newly signed pitcher John Odom into Canada for immigration reasons. And the Laredo Broncos of the United League were willing to take a cheap gamble on a pitcher.
Oh, and the Vipers really, really wanted some new bats.
And so Odom, 26, about a month after being acquired by a Canadian team, found himself Tuesday on the roster of a team on the Mexican border. All for the price of 10 Prairie Sticks Maple Bats, double-dipped black 34-inch C243 style.
"They just wanted some bats, good bats _ maple bats," Broncos General Manager Jose Melendez said Friday.
According to the Prairie Sticks Web site, their maple bats retail for $69 a piece, discounted to $65.50 for purchases of six to 11 bats.
The Vipers had signed Odom, but it seems Odom had a "minor," but unspecified, criminal record that wasn't revealed to immigration officials before they scanned his passport, Vipers President Peter Young said.
An Atlanta native, Odom said the charge stemmed from a fight he was in at age 17. Although he thought it had been expunged from his record, it popped up during immigration.
Odom spent hundreds of dollars driving to the Canadian border, staying at a Montana hotel while the matter was sorted out and then on to Laredo after the trade.
Odom, who was released by the San Francisco Giants organization this spring, said he was supposed to be traded for the Broncos' best hitter. But when that player balked at moving to Calgary, the bats entered the deal.
Laredo offered cash for Odom, but Young said that was "an insult."
The bat trade wasn't the first time Calgary tried some creative deal-making. The Vipers once tried to acquire a pitcher for 1,500 blue seats when they were renovating their field, Young said.
Odom was taking it stride and looking forward to pitching again after three weeks on the road.
"I don't really care," Odom said. "It'll make a better story if I make it to the big leagues."
Odom is scheduled to be activated Monday. And he'll get his first start Wednesday, Melendez said.
"It will be interesting to see what 10 bats gets us," he said.