“blue moon” odom
The current bath salt/zombie epidemic has jolted my quivering brain into a time-lapse…. I was jolted back to the 80’s and smack dab in the middle of the “crack cocaine era”. Plenty of MLB players at the time dabbled in the “rock” (hello, Darryl Strawberry and “Oil can ” Boyd.)
John “Blue Moon” Odom was one of the first star pitchers for the A’s after they moved from Kansas City. He made the All-Star team in 1968 and 1969, winning at least 15 games and posting an ERA under 3.00 both seasons. When Oakland won their first World Series title in 1972, he went 15-6 with an ERA of 2.50. The team won additional world championships in the next two years, but Odom’s numbers got worse: 5-12 in 1973 and 1-5 in 1974. Odom rounded out his career with the Indians, Braves and Whitesox before retiring after the 1976 season.
The problems for the former pitcher, now 42, began when he was arrested May 24, 1985, by Irvine police near the Xerox plant where he had worked quietly and efficiently for six years. He was charged with two counts of selling a small amount of cocaine to a co-worker.
Months later, the case still pending and Odom still unemployed, he snapped. He drank heavily one night, threatened his wife ,Gayle, then barricaded himself in his Fountain Valley apartment for 6 hours.
He doesn’t remember much about that night. But the episode was only the beginning of another long year of despair. The court case was delayed several times before he was finally tried and convicted. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail, but before paying that penalty, Odom spent 42 days in an alcohol rehabilitation
That done, he served 55 days in jail and was released Dec. 16, 1986. The couple then struggled for months before Gayle Odom found a job with a computer company in Tustin and he began receiving steady invitations for public appearances and started painting houses.
Attorney Stephan A. DeSales, who has represented Odom for the last 2 1/2 years for almost no fee, recently persuaded a judge to let Odom serve the remainder of his 5-year probation without supervision. Actually, it was a favorable report on him by the Orange County Probation Department that swayed the judge to grant Odom more freedom. “I think society has extracted its pound of flesh from him,” DeSales said.
as my quivering brain nodules settled, my lesson was learned…. ball players aren’t perfect, and to romanticize them as unflinching superheroes takes away all the human aspects from the game; stripping away all the poetry, beauty, and unpredictability of life.