Baseball is such a fun and joyous sport. It’s rich history and all the great moments created by it can help a fan escape from the troubles of everyday life. The game seems so wonderful and innocent. However, this innocence can sometimes be perverted. Baseball players almost seem immortal throughout their entire careers; nobody ever sees them dying. Nobody ever can predict when somebody will go. And sometimes, a player will retire prior to retiring, completely unexpectedly and tragically. These are the stories of those players.
Not enough baseball fans know the tale of Lyman Bostock, and it definitely should be shared more often. Lyman Wesley Bostock, Jr. was born on November 22nd, 1950. A left handed hitting outfielder from Birmingham, Alabama, Bostock was a very talented player, who had good speed, was a solid defensive outfielder, and could swing the bat as good as the rest of ’em. In his first full season, in 1976, a 25-year old Bostock hit .323 for the Minnesota Twins in 474 at bats, as well as hitting for the cycle on July 24, 1976. His batting average that year was fourth in the league. In 1977, Lyman topped that by hitting .336 for the Twins, with a 144 OPS+, had 90 RBI, 14 homers, and only struck out 59 times in 593 at bats. Bostock had the 2nd best average in the league, behind only Rod Carew. He finished 27th in the Most Valuable Player voting.
Bostock signed with the California Angels in 78, and that year, after struggling with the bat early in the season, ended up leading the Angels in batting average with a .296 clip, and although it was his least impressive full season, he still finished 23rd in the MVP voting.
In 1978, Bostock would not be alive to put up any numbers.
On September 23rd, 1978, in Gary, Indiana, Bostock fell victim to a bullet that wasn’t supposed to hit him. Let Wikipedia tell you the story.
“With a week remaining in the season, he went 2 for 4 with a walk in a Saturday afternoon game against the White Sox in Chicago, to raise his average to .296. Following the game, as he regularly did when in Chicago, Bostock visited his uncle, Thomas Turner, in nearby Gary, Indiana. After eating a meal with a group of relatives at Turner’s home, Bostock and his uncle went to visit Joan Hawkins, a woman whom Bostock had tutored as a teenager, but had not seen for several years. After the visit, Turner agreed to give Hawkins and her sister, Barbara Smith, a ride to their cousin’s house. Smith had been living with Hawkins while estranged from her husband, Leonard Smith. Unbeknownst to the group, Leonard Smith was outside Hawkins’s home in his car and observed the group’s departure in Turner’s car.
As Turner’s vehicle was stopped at a traffic signal at the intersection of 5th and Jackson streets, Smith’s car pulled up alongside them. Smith leaned out of his vehicle and fired one blast of a .410 caliber shotgun into the back seat of Turner’s car, where his wife and Bostock were seated. Smith did not know Bostock, but Smith later claimed that his wife was frequently unfaithful to him, and that based upon his observance of Bostock getting into the car with Barbara Smith, he concluded that the two were having an affair. In fact, Bostock had only met the woman twenty minutes previously, when he and his uncle arrived at Hawkins’s home.
Leonard Smith said that his lethal wrath was intended for his estranged wife. However, Bostock was seated between Barbara Smith and the position from which Leonard Smith was firing. The blast missed the woman and instead struck Bostock in the right temple. He died two hours later at a Gary hospital.”
Stay positive, Yankee fans.
-EJ the Kid From New York