Lyman Bostock Jr

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1979 In Memorium baseball card

Lyman Wesley Bostock Jr (born November 22, 1950 in Birmingham; died September 23, 1978 in Gary, Indiana) was an American professional baseball player. He played Major League Baseball for four seasons, as an outfielder for the Minnesota Twins (1975-77) and California Angels (1978). He batted left-handed and threw right-handed.

Early life

Lyman Bostock Jr was born in Birmingham, the son of Lyman Bostock Sr (1918-2005), a Negro Leagues professional baseball star from 1938-1954 as a left-handed first baseman. The family moved to Los Angeles, California in 1959, when young Lyman was eight years old. He was selected in the 1970 amateur draft by the St Louis Cardinals out of Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles. He chose not to sign with the Cardinals, electing to play college baseball at San Fernando Valley State College, now known as Cal State Northridge. Bostock was an all-conference player in the California Collegiate Athletic Association in both of his seasons at Northridge, hitting .344 as a freshman and .296 as a sophomore, leading the Matadors to a second-place finish at the 1972 Division II College World Series. He was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 26th round (596th overall) of the 1972 amateur draft and decided to turn professional after two years of college.

Career

Bostock's minor league stops were in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1972, Orlando in 1973, and Tacoma, Washington in 1974. His batting averages for those years were .294, .313, and .333, respectively. He was promoted to the major leagues in April 1975, and batted .282 in 98 games for Minnesota (and .391 in 22 games for the AAA Tacoma Twins).

A fine defensive center fielder, Lyman Bostock finished fourth in the tight American League batting race in 1976, his first full season in the majors. After finishing second in the league in batting in 1977 to Twins teammate Rod Carew, Bostock became one of baseball's earliest big-money free agents, and signed with the California Angels, owned by Gene Autry. Almost immediately, Bostock donated $10,000 of his newfound wealth to a church in his native Birmingham to rebuild its Sunday school.

With a new team and large contract, the 1978 season started off poorly for Bostock; he batted a lowly .150 for the month of April. Apologetically, Bostock went to team owner Gene Autry and attempted to return his April salary, saying he hadn't earned it. Mr Autry refused, so Bostock announced he would donate his April salary to charity. Thousands of requests came in for the money, and Bostock reviewed each one of them, trying to determine who needed it the most.

Murder

Bostock toiled the rest of the year to get his batting average over the .300 mark. With a week remaining in the 1978 season, he went 2 for 4 (including a hit in his last at bat) in a Saturday afternoon game with 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 people on this Saturday night, Bostock got in the back seat of his uncle's car. As the vehicle was stopped at a traffic signal at the intersection of 5th and Jackson streets, a car pulled up alongside them. The driver of the second car got out and fired one blast of a .410 caliber shotgun into the back seat where Lyman Bostock was sitting. The assailant, Leonard Smith, did not even know Bostock. His lethal wrath was intended for his estranged wife, Barbara Smith, who was along with the group as a guest of Bostock's uncle, who happened to be her godfather. The blast missed the woman but struck Bostock in the left temple, and he died two hours later at a Gary hospital. Lyman Bostock Jr was just 27 years old. It was later discovered that Bostock had known the woman in the car for a total of 20 minutes.

Aftermath

Leonard Smith was tried twice for murder, with his lawyers arguing that Barbara Smith's infidelity had driven her husband insane. The first trial resulted in a hung jury. In the second trial, Leonard Smith was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was committed for psychiatric treatment. Within seven months, he was deemed no longer mentally ill by his psychiatrists and released. Including his time in jail awaiting and during trial, Smith's total time in custody amounted to 21 months.

In his brief four season career, Bostock was a .311 hitter with 23 home runs and 250 RBIs in 526 games. A memorial scholarship fund was commissioned in his name, and is annually awarded to a needy California State University, Northridge student athlete. In 1981, he became the first inductee into the CSU Northridge Matadors Hall of Fame.

Lyman Bostock Jr. is interred in the Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, California.

Highlights

  • Hit for the cycle (July 24 1976)
  • Collected 12 putouts in the second game of a doubleheader, tying the major league mark, as the Twins swept the Boston Red Sox, 13–5 and 9-4. Bostock became only the third big leaguer to do it in a nine-inning game and just the second center fielder in the 20th century. His 17 putouts in the doubleheader also set a record in the American League that still stands today (May 25 1977).
  • In 1976 hit .323, finishing fourth behind Kansas City Royals George Brett (.333) and Hal McRae (.332), and teammate Rod Carew (.331).
  • His .336 batting average in 1977 was only second to Carew's .388. Carew would be traded to the Angels in 1979 shortly after Bostock's murder.

Lowlights

  • Bostock grounded into 26 double plays in 1978, which led the major leagues.

References

  • "Lyman Bostock" (May 4, 2008) Wikipedia - accessed June 25, 2008

External links