They don’t make ’em like Lyman Bostock anymore

Sports Illustrated’s Rick Reilly:
Wouldn’t you love to see, just once, before you die… a major league player call a press conference to demand the club negotiate his contract — downward? “I’m barely hittin’ my weight,” he’ll say, his agent nodding by his side. “Either start paying me a whole lot less or I’m leaving for Pawtucket right now!”

That almost did happen. In 1978, a young, hard-hitting outfielder named Lyman Bostock became one of baseball’s first big-money free agents, leaving the cash-poor Minnesota Twins (not much changes, does it?) to join Gene Autry’s big-money California Angels. One of the first things he did with his newfound wealth was give $10,000 to a church in his native Birmingham to rebuild its Sunday School.

He got off to a bang that April, hitting .150 for the month (Bostock had never hit below .282 in the major leagues). So he told Autry he wanted to give back his April salary. Autry refused. Bostock gave the money to charity.

They don’t make ’em like that anymore. Bostock spent the rest of the season working overtime to try to get his batting average up over .300, where it belonged. He never made it. He was shot and killed Sept. 23, 1978 in the back seat of his uncle’s car in Gary, Ind. Accounts vary as to whether the gunman was aiming for the man sitting next to him or whether he thought Bostock was someone else.

The Angels, in the midst of an intense pennant race with the Kansas City Royals, never recovered.

Lots of classy players have played this game. I don’t think you’ll ever find me one classier than Lyman Bostock.

And lots of tragic deaths have happened in this game. But I don’t think you’ll ever find me one more tragic than the death of Lyman Bostock. When daddies pointed at the TV screens and told their sons to be like Lyman Bostock, they didn’t just mean hit a baseball like him. They meant live like him.

I have no idea how long the link will be active, but you can read this Chicago Tribune account of Lyman Bostock here.

8 thoughts on “They don’t make ’em like Lyman Bostock anymore

  • March 29, 2003 at 5:35 am
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    A short but sweet article. Lyman Bostock was a fine ballplayer and finer man. I’m glad to see that I am not the only one who remembers this genuinely tragic incident.

  • April 6, 2003 at 4:54 pm
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    Had Lyman Bostock lived I think we would still be years away from all the show-boating.
    He was 100% ballplayer and he scared me when my Yanks played the Angels.

  • April 9, 2003 at 10:11 pm
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    I often mention this man’s story when talking about baseball’s old times. Seems most people don’t remember him, but I remember at the time how tragic the story was and it was big news. I still have his baseball card. If I remember right, he was in the car with someone’s wife and shot by a jealous husband.

  • June 5, 2003 at 7:41 pm
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    comment

    I was with the Angels when Lyman was killed; covering another player for the smalltown newspaper I was working for at the time. I had just met him the day before he was killed and he seemed like such a genuinely nice fellow. The team was just stunned by news he had been killed. No one could believe it. I saw him talking with his uncle prior to the game that would be his last. Apparently, he was with that same relative when he was killed later that night. What a tragedy!

  • June 24, 2003 at 5:44 pm
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    Lymon was a baseball player, He did it for the love of the game. What a loss to the game

  • July 26, 2003 at 12:52 am
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    Lyman Bostock & Joe Delaney – two truly untimely deaths.

  • October 7, 2003 at 2:56 pm
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    a classy player , i remember the morning in which i read “BOSTOCK KILLED” in the morning player, another thing that comes to mind is when Lyman charged the mound where Al “the mad hungarian” Hrabosky was pitching for the Kansas City Royals

  • November 6, 2003 at 8:28 pm
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    I did not know Lyman Bostock other than as a fan of his. It is nice to read that he was also a fine person. I think of him often and miss the way he played the game. What a shame he had to go to that arm pit of Gary,In.

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