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Unassisted
04-22-2008, 05:48 PM
http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-crowe22apr22,1,7617073.column


Lyman Bostock didn't just talk about giving back

Angels outfielder made headlines in 1978 when he offered to forfeit salary after a slow April at the plate. Today it is all but forgotten, overshadowed by his tragic shooting death five months later.

Jerry Crowe

April 22, 2008

Thirty years ago this month, Lyman Bostock made a move so outrageous and uncharacteristic for a professional athlete that, had the Angels outfielder not been fatally shot five months later, baseball fans might still talk about it.

If not for the tragic way his life ended -- in the wrong place at the wrong time, cut down in his prime -- they might say it was his crowning glory.

In April 1978, Bostock offered to forfeit his salary.

Mired in a horrendous slump after signing a rich free-agent contract with the Angels in November 1977, the former Cal State Northridge and Manual Arts High star told owner Gene Autry, in essence, he didn't deserve to be paid.

"Today," says Dick Enberg, the Angels' announcer back then, "I think we'd all need to be slapped around to wake up if somebody took a step like that."

But this was no stunt.

"What you saw is what you got from Lyman," Bob Hiegert, who coached Bostock at Cal State Northridge, says of his principled former player. "There was nothing hidden about Lyman. He wore his heart on his sleeve."

Son of Lyman Bostock Sr., who played in the Negro Leagues with the Brooklyn Royal Giants and the Birmingham Black Barons, Bostock was 27 and seemingly just reaching his athletic prime when he signed with the Angels. In the last two of his three seasons with the Minnesota Twins, he had hit .323 and .336, finishing among the American League batting leaders each year.

The Angels, winners of a bidding war with the New York Yankees and San Diego Padres, signed him for the then-shocking sum of $2.25 million for five years.

"I think he was offered one of the richest contracts in pro sports and he didn't feel comfortable about it," says Hiegert, who stayed in contact with Bostock after Bostock turned pro. "He was almost embarrassed."

Imagine his emotional distress at the end of his first month with the Angels, when he was batting .147 and buried in a two-for-38 slump.

Pressing, Bostock told reporters he was "hallucinating" at the plate, noting, "I felt myself standing outside my body up there . . . then jumping back into it just before the pitch. Everything was just a big glare in front of my face."

Midway through the slump, he made his offer to Autry.

"He couldn't hit a solid foul ball," recalls Enberg, adding that he and Bostock felt a kinship because Enberg also had spent time at Cal State Northridge -- as an assistant baseball coach in the early 1960s.

"He was embarrassed by his performance and wanted desperately to do well. He just felt that he was shortchanging Gene Autry and he said, 'Don't pay me.' There's no question it endeared him to the fans at a time when the fans were unhappy that he wasn't hitting."

Autry, through general manager Buzzie Bavasi, declined the offer. Baseball regulations also would have forbidden it, but Bavasi appreciated the gesture.

"He came into my office and told me he was reluctant to take his salary," Bavasi recalled 10 years later. "He said, 'I'm not doing my job.' But I told him, 'I won't let you do that.' And he says, 'Why not?' So I told him, 'What if you hit .600 next month? You're sure as hell not getting any more money out of me.' "

Unmoved, Bostock donated a month's salary to charity.

Five months later, Bostock's poor start and magnanimous offer to Autry were all but forgotten as the Angels entered the final week of the season.

Earl Weaver, manager of the Baltimore Orioles, had predicted Bostock would win multiple batting titles. After a game at Chicago on Sept. 23, he was batting .296.

That night, Bostock met a woman named Barbara Smith during a dinner party at his uncle Ed Turner's home in Gary, Ind. Later, he and Turner were giving Smith and her sister a ride to the sister's home when Leonard Smith, Barbara's estranged husband, pulled up alongside Turner's car and gave chase. When traffic forced both cars to stop, Leonard Smith stepped from his vehicle with a small-gauge shotgun and fired a single shot into the back seat of Turner's car.

Barbara Smith was wounded in the neck by one shotgun pellet, but the brunt of the blast caught Bostock in the right temple.

Less than three hours later, he was pronounced dead.

Leonard Smith, tried twice and found "not responsible by reason of insanity," spent seven months in an Indiana state mental hospital and was released June 19, 1980, less than two years after Bostock's shooting.

So controversial was the case that it led the Indiana Legislature to change its homicide laws, but that meant little to anyone who knew Bostock.

His legacy, they say, is the integrity he revealed in April.

"I thought it was very honorable," says Lemuel Bostock, a half brother living in Birmingham, Ala., where Lyman was born and his father died three years ago. "But our father was the same way: If somebody asked you to do a job and you couldn't perform, you felt like you were getting something you didn't deserve.

"I knew my father a whole lot better than I knew Lyman, but I could understand where he was coming from because our father was the same way."

MrCinatit
04-22-2008, 06:00 PM
I was 10 when he died and still at that "baseball players live and play forever" stage of my life - Thurman Munson was the first active player I remember dying. I didn't know anything about Bostock at the time of his death - but now, he is at the top of that "What could have been..." list with Munson, Bob Moose, Ken Hubbs and Don Wilson.
I had always known he was an excellent hitter, and from what I remember, a pretty decent guy. This is the first time I'd heard about this - thanks for posting it, Unassisted.

OnBaseMachine
04-22-2008, 06:02 PM
Thanks for posting that. I had never heard this story before or even knew who Bostock was. He sounds like a he was a heckuva guy - you would have a hard time finding a player do something like that these days.

cumberlandreds
04-22-2008, 09:06 PM
Thanks for posting. I never knew he donated his salary to charity. Very tragic what happened to him. He was a fine player and it sounds like he was a finer human being.

macro
04-23-2008, 10:41 AM
http://www.baseball-almanac.com/players/pics/lyman_bostock_autograph.jpg

RichRed
04-23-2008, 10:55 AM
I still have this baseball card somewhere:

http://static.baseballtoaster.com/blogs/cardboardgods/images/2007/Lyman_Bostock_78.jpg

As a kid, I remember wondering why a guy with that high a batting average wasn't playing in the majors any more. I later read that he was shot and killed but I never knew the details until now.

Thanks for posting that, Unassisted. Sounds like Lyman was a good man.

BuckeyeRedleg
04-23-2008, 11:12 AM
I still have this baseball card somewhere:

http://static.baseballtoaster.com/blogs/cardboardgods/images/2007/Lyman_Bostock_78.jpg

As a kid, I remember wondering why a guy with that high a batting average wasn't playing in the majors any more. I later read that he was shot and killed but I never knew the details until now.

Thanks for posting that, Unassisted. Sounds like Lyman was a good man.

1978. My first year collecting and simply a beautiful set.

Over the past few years, I have managed to replace the beat up set from my childhood with a pretty flawless (ungraded) set, but I am thinking about attempting to complete it with nothing but 9 or 10 grades.

All of the new stuff has turned me off and I'm realling digging vintage cards (pre-1980). I have completed roughly 75% of the 1971-1977 sets and am looking forward to completing them and moving into the 60's.

But 1978 (and Lymon) hold a special place in my heart.

MrCinatit
04-23-2008, 03:25 PM
1978. My first year collecting and simply a beautiful set.

Over the past few years, I have managed to replace the beat up set from my childhood with a pretty flawless (ungraded) set, but I am thinking about attempting to complete it with nothing but 9 or 10 grades.

All of the new stuff has turned me off and I'm realling digging vintage cards (pre-1980). I have completed roughly 75% of the 1971-1977 sets and am looking forward to completing them and moving into the 60's.

But 1978 (and Lymon) hold a special place in my heart.


'78 was my first serious collecting year. At the end of the year, I think I ended up being about 15 cards short of a complete set. I think I finally completed it 10 years later. I have never upgraded my set, though - those things are as beat up today as they were 30 years ago.
I probably had 10 of that Bostock card.

BuckeyeRedleg
04-23-2008, 04:00 PM
'78 was my first serious collecting year. At the end of the year, I think I ended up being about 15 cards short of a complete set. I think I finally completed it 10 years later. I have never upgraded my set, though - those things are as beat up today as they were 30 years ago.
I probably had 10 of that Bostock card.

My Uncle (only three years older) and I both really got into these cards in 1978. Everytime my Grandma took us to the store, we managed to get a few packs. We used to put them in teams and when we'd get a few new packs, we'd take all the cards, put them in a shoe box, shake them up and put them in teams again. I can't describe it, but there was just some magical thing about pulling out Reds, especially Morgan, Bench, rose, etc.

We both eventually tried to put together sets and we each were just a few cards short with both of us needing Ed Armbrister (see my avatar). We spent all summer trying to get that Armbrister. Great memories.

cumberlandreds
04-24-2008, 10:56 AM
1978. My first year collecting and simply a beautiful set.

Over the past few years, I have managed to replace the beat up set from my childhood with a pretty flawless (ungraded) set, but I am thinking about attempting to complete it with nothing but 9 or 10 grades.

All of the new stuff has turned me off and I'm realling digging vintage cards (pre-1980). I have completed roughly 75% of the 1971-1977 sets and am looking forward to completing them and moving into the 60's.

But 1978 (and Lymon) hold a special place in my heart.

I have all the 70's Topps sets save one card. The 1970 Nolan Ryan card. It's just too expensive for me. The vintage cards are the best. 1971 is my favorite because it my first year of buying cards at the local five & dime. The new stuff just doesn't interest me at all. I started doing the 60's cards. I can't really explain it but I kind of lost interest after my dad died in November 2005 and haven't bought any since.

BuckeyeRedleg
04-24-2008, 02:28 PM
I have all the 70's Topps sets save one card. The 1970 Nolan Ryan card. It's just too expensive for me. The vintage cards are the best. 1971 is my favorite because it my first year of buying cards at the local five & dime. The new stuff just doesn't interest me at all. I started doing the 60's cards. I can't really explain it but I kind of lost interest after my dad died in November 2005 and haven't bought any since.

I'm sorry to hear about your father.

1971 was my birth year, so it would really mean a lot for me to complete everthing from '71 on. That set, with it's black borders is very condition sensitive. What I do have (40-50% of the set) isn't really great.

Somehow I managed to get a couple thousand 1972's and when I recently put the set together I was blown away at the condition of them. Most would have to be 8's or better. I don't think they had been touched for many years by the time I got them.

The 70's are simply a glorious decade for card collecting (probably because it was my childhood). It just seemed to go downhill in '81 when Donruss and Fleer jumped into the fray and started mass producing ugly cards.

I just searched on ebay for a 1970 Ryan and found an ungraded one (NM) that looks pretty affordable ($10.99 with one day left).

http://cgi.ebay.com/1970-Topps-Brand-Nolan-Ryan-712-NM_W0QQitemZ270231156362QQihZ017QQcategoryZ60497QQ ssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

cumberlandreds
04-24-2008, 02:40 PM
I'm sorry to hear about your father.

1971 was my birth year, so it would really mean a lot for me to complete everthing from '71 on. That set, with it's black borders is very condition sensitive. What I do have (40-50% of the set) isn't really great.

Somehow I managed to get a couple thousand 1972's and when I recently put the set together I was blown away at the condition of them. Most would have to be 8's or better. I don't think they had been touched for many years by the time I got them.

The 70's are simply a glorious decade for card collecting (probably because it was my childhood). It just seemed to go downhill in '81 when Donruss and Fleer jumped into the fray and started mass producing ugly cards.

I just searched on ebay for a 1970 Ryan and found an ungraded one (NM) that looks pretty affordable ($10.99 with one day left).

http://cgi.ebay.com/1970-Topps-Brand-Nolan-Ryan-712-NM_W0QQitemZ270231156362QQihZ017QQcategoryZ60497QQ ssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

Thanks! I put a bid on it and currently high bidder but I doubt that it will hold. You were fortunate on those 72 cards to get them such good condition. A lot of my 72's are the one's I got as a kid and they are not in that good of condition. I taped a lot them on my bedroom walls then and well you know what tape will do to a card.

MrCinatit
04-24-2008, 04:19 PM
I managed to pick up all of the cards in the Topps sets going back to the year I was born, '68 (I got the Bench and Ryan rookies very cheap). The '70 set was the last I put together. The Ryan was the last card I got - I think I paid around 80 for it, and it was still in kind of rough condition.
My newest obsession is working on '50s and '60s Hall-of-Famers - exactly 300 to go. Sounds like a lot, but I have already grabbed quite a few, and there are many still in the "$10 and under" range.

BuckeyeRedleg
04-24-2008, 04:46 PM
I managed to pick up all of the cards in the Topps sets going back to the year I was born, '68 (I got the Bench and Ryan rookies very cheap). The '70 set was the last I put together. The Ryan was the last card I got - I think I paid around 80 for it, and it was still in kind of rough condition.
My newest obsession is working on '50s and '60s Hall-of-Famers - exactly 300 to go. Sounds like a lot, but I have already grabbed quite a few, and there are many still in the "$10 and under" range.

So you and cumberlandreds both just needed the same card (1970 Nolan Ryan) to complete your sets for the entire decade of the 70's?

Wow. Strange coincidence.

cumberlandreds
04-25-2008, 09:17 AM
So you and cumberlandreds both just needed the same card (1970 Nolan Ryan) to complete your sets for the entire decade of the 70's?

Wow. Strange coincidence.

That Ryan card is a high number card and is hard to get even in poor condition. Topps didn't make as many cards from their high number series and they are hard to get in any condition from any of those years. BTW, I got outbid within an hour on EBAY for that Ryan card. Oh well, I'll be rich someday and money won't be an object. ;)

cumberlandreds
04-25-2008, 09:20 AM
I managed to pick up all of the cards in the Topps sets going back to the year I was born, '68 (I got the Bench and Ryan rookies very cheap). The '70 set was the last I put together. The Ryan was the last card I got - I think I paid around 80 for it, and it was still in kind of rough condition.
My newest obsession is working on '50s and '60s Hall-of-Famers - exactly 300 to go. Sounds like a lot, but I have already grabbed quite a few, and there are many still in the "$10 and under" range.

I'm close to a complete 68 set. I know I need Mantle and a couple of other stars. I have the Bench and Ryan rookie cards but they aren't in good condition at all.