By BEN WALKER The Associated Press
"Bat Man" or "Bat Guy" or "Bat Boy" ó 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.
He seemed to handle it well, too. A former prospect in the San Francisco Giants' chain ó future Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum bunked on his couch in Class A ball ó Odom gladly agreed to interviews. He kidded about the kooky deal that made him famous, saying it would make a better story if he reached the majors someday.
"People are like, 'I'd kill myself' and stuff," Odom said at the time, dismissing any such notion.
Three weeks after the trade, he abruptly left the team.
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.