The March 19 issue of The New Yorker has an in-depth story about lawyer Harley Lewin’s colorful career pursuing counterfeiters . . . . I was particularly interested to learn there’s a local angle to the story. Apparently, former Seattle Mariner pitcher Byron McLaughlin became something of a counterfeiting kingpin after his lackluster career dried up in the early-1980s. I had no idea.
Here’s what the article says:
“After some nosing around, [Mr. Lewin] figured out that something like half the counterfeit shoes in Mexico could be traced to a guy named Byron McLaughlin, who lived just over the border in a suburb of San Diego. Byron McLaughlin had been a major-league baseball player in the seventies and early eighties — he had pitched for the Seattle Mariners — but in the mid-eighties his career foundered and he started playing in the Mexican leagues. He made a deal with a couple of Korean companies to manufacture cheap counterfeit sneakers — Reebok, Converse, Vans, Adidas — for the Mexican market. By the time [Mr. Lewin] caught up with him, his business was booming: in a good month he would sell around eighty thousand pairs of sneakers for about three-quarters of a million dollars. (As Footwear News reported, McLaughlin pleaded guilty to money-laundering charges but fled the country before sentencing and is believed to be living near Cannes.)”
Well, it's often been said that players only become truly great once they leave the Mariners.