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Before Earning Millions Selling Counterfeit Shoes, He Pitched for the Seattle Mariners

The March 19 issue of The New Yorker has an in-depth story about lawyer Harley Lewin’s colorful career pursuing counterfeiters. (See “Bag Man: Cracking Down on Fashion Fakes,” abstract here). It’s a good read. 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.Byron McLaughlin.jpg

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.)”

I wonder if my Byron McLaughlin baseball cards are worth more given this history. For the record, Mr. McLaughlin finished his major league career in 1981 with 16 wins, 25 losses, 16 saves, and an ERA of 5.11.

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    Response: Toe Box
    2007: adidas Silver Shoe at the FIFA Women? s World Cup in 2007. 122 international matches for the USA, 98 goals. Miscellaneous: At the FIFA Women? s World Cup in 2007, Wambach scored six goals in six matches, despite needing 11 stitches in her head after a collision with Korea DPR? ...

Reader Comments (1)

I remember attending his wedding to a pretty mexican girl in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, during the summer of 1979 or 1980. She came from a nice upper class family whose name I whithhold out of respect for them. The wedding reception took place in a Japanese Restaurant named "Jardines Miyako" (Miyako gardens). It was a wonderful wedding celebration. I don't know how long they stayed together before their divorce. I heard he was a lousy husband.
June 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWedding Witness

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