Jim & Bob's Palatial Baseball Blog

Monday, March 26, 2007

Give a Hoot – Read!

Contrary to popular belief, I do take an interest in the world outside of baseball. And when I want to catch up on that world, there’s nothing like settling down with The New Yorker.

But there’s nothing quite like settling down with The New Yorker and discovering that the worlds inside and outside baseball intersect in unexpected ways. Like in the 19 March 2007 issue, which includes a profile of attorney Harley Lewin by staff writer Larissa MacFarquhar (no link, sorry – the folks at The New Yorker don’t keep archives on line).

Lewin is a lawyer specializing in copyright infringement. If you’ve ever bought a “Gucci” purse off the back of a truck on Canal Street in New York, Lewin is probably on the trail of the guy who’s supplying goods to the truck driver.

It’s an interesting read, made even more so by its tangential connection to the world of baseball:

A few years later, Reebok told Harley that it was having sneaker problems down at the border. Counterfeit shoes had been showing up all over Arizona and Texas and Southern California and that company had decided the problem was Mexico. “Conventional wisdom was you didn’t go near Mexico,” Harley says. “It was dangerous, it was drugs, it was corruption. I, of course, didn’t know that.” After some nosing around, he 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 Harley 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).

Note to Mariner Fans visiting today – now you know why ol’ Byron hasn’t shown up for any old-timers days lately…

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