Pitcher Half Empty

When Lance Odom finished his pitching career at Daytona Beach Community College, he wasn’t highly-scouted.  The 6’1″, 210-lb righty didn’t blow many people away, but he’d had some success in the Mid-Florida Conference.

Enough that, after he fell through the draft without hearing his name called, the Minnesota Twins agreed to terms with him as an undrafted free agent.

What ensued may be the worst pitching career of the modern era, and I’m not exaggerating.

The Twins first assigned Odom to the Gulf Coast Twins, a Rookie-level team in, you guessed it, the Gulf Coast League.  It wouldn’t be fair to categorize his 1999 season as awful.  In 23.1 innings pitched, he went 0-0 with a 5.87 ERA, 1.74 WHIP, 13 strikeouts, and just 7 walks.  But he did lead the team with 5 saves (for those of you who wonder why saves are considered an over-rated stat, look no farther).

That prompted the folks in Minnesota to retain Odom’s services, and begin the long saga that is his horrible (though relatively long-lived) career. 

For the 2000 season, Lance was promoted to the Single-A Midwest League’s Quad Cities River Bandits in Davenport, Iowa.

Lance pitched just 7.2 innings that season in Modern Woodmen Park (I admit I just wanted to squeeze the name of that stadium into this story), but found time to give up fourteen hits and allow seven earned runs, giving him a 7.87 ERA, an abysmal 2.38 WHIP, 6 K to 5 BB, and not even a save to show for it.

He was promptly released.

Life was good for four years, but Lance felt that familiar itch to compete.  So in 2004, convinced that his mediocrity was behind him, Odom tried out for the  New Jersey Jackals of the Northeast League, an independent league that now makes up the majority of the Can-Am League.  He somehow made the team and promptly went to work, throwing 2 innings in 2 games, walking four and allowing 4 hits and 5 runs, all but one of them earned. He recorded zero strikeouts.

He and his 18.00 ERA were traded to the Bangor Lumberjacks, where he threw three more innings in four games, allowing 6 hits and 3 walks, but no runs this time around.  He did strike out three.

Bangor set him free, and he used the opportunity to show off his wares elsewhere.  He was signed, in that same season, by the Atlantic City Surf of the independent Atlantic League.  He pitched 9.2 innings for the Surf, giving up 12 hits, 4 walks, and 9 runs, all of them earned.  He did strike out 7, but he ended the season with an ERA of 8.39

The following season, he found himself in yet another independent league, the Frontier League, where he was able to somehow secure a spot with the Windy City ThunderBolts.  He threw four innings in three games, allowing 9 hits and 10 runs (8 of them earned), walking two and striking out zero for an ERA of 18.00 and a WHIP of 2.75.

Odom took 2006 off.  With a career record of 1-2, 5 SV, 40 IP, 7.65 ERA, 2.175 WHIP, 22 K, 21 BB over four seasons, six teams, five leagues, and seven years (that’s forty innings pitched in seven years, gang!), he was no doubt readying himself for the grueling process of induction into Cooperstown.

But that wasn’t the last we’d ever hear of Lance Odom.  In 2007, he made his way onto the roster of the Lancaster Barnstormers, back in the familiar Atlantic League. 

He was brought in for his first relief appearance, and the second pitch of his Barnstormers career was sent over the fence for a home run.

Now, to be fair, with all of his pitching woes, that was only the fourth home run he’d ever given up.  Two had come the season before and one the season before that. 

So much for new beginnings.

Lance’s second game as a Barnstormer was July 2, 2007.  The Barnstormers were playing the Somerset Patriots, and it was the bottom of the 12th inning, tied 6-6.

The perfect situation for the Gulf Coast Twins’ saves leader in 1999, right?  Not so fast.  This sequence is what followed:

  • He began by hitting the leadoff man, former Mets 2B Danny Garcia.
  • Odom commited an error on a pickoff attempt; Garcia advances to second.
  • Garcia advances to third on a sacrifice bunt

So now there is one out and a runner on third base. 

Then the fun begins.  His catcher (who I’m guessing is former Tigers prospect Russ Cleveland) asks Odom to try and intentionally walk the bases loaded to get the force at home.  There are some issues with the first batter, and then former Athletics outfield Mike Lockwood comes to the plate.  Take a look:


That was the last we’d ever see of Odom.  He was released by the Barnstormers on July 19, and hasn’t been heard from since. 

His final stat line:

1-3, 8.09 ERA, 5 SV, 51.2 IP, 27 BB, 29 K, 7 WP, 2.13 WHIP


I don’t normally link to other blogs, but Bengie Molina posted a very good entry that I think we could all stand to read.

The
subject: Failure.  Learning to cope with it, learning to understand it,
learning to even expect it.  Failure, as he points out, is a big part
of baseball.  It’s an even bigger part of Spring Training.  While our
Astros are mired in a terrible Spring Training right now, this becomes
an even more important lesson to remember.

12 Comments

That was interesting. Odom throws the ball like my wife. I know how that catcher feels too, because that’s me….back there feeling all defensive wondering which way the ball is headed.

Do you think Odom’s hanging out with Chris Holt? He’d make Holt look like a HOF. ;)

Houston – There has been a John Odom who has been in the news recently who died of a drug overdose. They aren’t one in the same are they? It is an odd last name.

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

Julia – I didn’t hear anything about a drug overdose, but I doubt it’s the same guy. Odom isn’t THAT uncommon… there’s also Lamar Odom, remember.

Austin – Hey, at least Holt made the big leagues. Simply put, if you make it to the big leagues, even if you have the worst statistical career of all time there, you’re better than most people who ever played the game.

Besides, Holt had a decent year in 1997. 8-12, 209.7 IP, 95 K, 61 BB, 3.52 ERA, 1.297 WHIP. Not horrible. Poor Odom never had a good year at any level.

http://houston.mlblogs.com

You know, I wonder if he’s actually a lefty and doesn’t know it. He throws the way I throw when I try to pitch with my left hand.

http://houston.mlblogs.com

You are right, not a bad ERA that one year. I remember agonizing when he pitched. I was checking out the boxscore from that game I witnessed in 1999? He went to 0-6 after that losing that game to Ortiz. He ended up with a 5-13 record that year.

Yeah, he was mostly a starter, but actually pitched out of the bullpen in 1999, too. Actually had a blown save and a save in his two bullpen sessions.

In 2000, he actually threw a complete-game shutout against the Brewers. He was one of those frustrating guys that had flashes where he was really good – heck, he struck out 426 major league hitters over 5 seasons and a portion of a sixth – but never really made it all come together.

http://houston.mlblogs.com

Well he tried and that’s more than most! Hopefully he finds something he’s good at in life enough to make a living on.
Tom
http://rockymountainway.mlblogs.com

Wow. That is some story. I guess it’s better to have played and lost (badly) than to never have played at all (or is that saying about love?).
–Jeff
http://redstatebluestate.mlblogs.com/

HAHAHA! Good ol’ Lance Odom. I know this guy, and his personality is just as sour as his playing. He’s a **********, mean, irresponsible, immature, drunk 13 year old stuck in a fat 31 year old’s body. Trust me on that. It’s only thanks to his pure ignorance that he is able to show his face in the daylight.

Agreed, know him as well and he is a doucheeeee bag! Karma works in wonderful ways. I know I wouldn’t want my name to come up on Google under the worst pitcher ever!

You are so right Odom is a drunk….While he did what about 95 percent of us never did do he did it worse them 99 percent of the people who are fortunate enough to do it. I know from firsthand experience this guy is a drunk and thinks because he pitched baseball in a independent league and know MAJOR LEAGUE PLAYERS that gives him the right ot walkout on tabs it must be in his blood to WALK OUT AND WALK THINGS LOL

this guy is a douche who beats on women

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