Name: Lyman Wesley Bostock, Jr.
Nickname: Abdul Jibber Jabber
Position: Center Field
Years Played As an Angel: 1978
Angels’ Stats: 147 Games, 568 AB, 5 HR, 71 RBI, .296 AVG
Career Stats: 526 Games, 2,004 AB, 23 HR, 250 RBI, .311 AVG
How He Was Acquired: Lyman was acquired via free agency after he spent the first three years of his young career with the Minnesota Twins.
Why You Should Know Him: Lyman didn’t grow up with the tools at his disposal that man of us enjoyed growing up. His Willie Mays basket catch style was not developed in homage of the great NY/SF Giants center fielder, rather he was forced to use a left hander’s fielding glove as a youngster which made it awkward for him to catch a fly ball normally. Even as a professional, it was a trait that he had hard time shaking this habit, but it never held him back. Strong and quick with the bat, he finished 4th and 2nd in AL batting average (.323, .336) in his first three years of major league experience.
He was a man of character, conviction and a deep respect for his past and what it had done to prepare him for the future. In the winter of ‘77/’78, Lyman enjoyed being one of the most sought after free agents of the free agent era until Gene Autry ‘s Angels came to terms on a $2.7 Million 5 year contract with the young centerfielder. Paying his respect for his past and the people that supported him, he donated his first $10,000 of his big contract to his church back home in Alabama.
Frustrated by a slow start Lyman offered to pay back his salary to Autry stating "If I can't play up to my capabilities, I don't want to get paid for it." When the Autry refused to allow him to pay back his salary, he decided to seek applications from hundreds of different charities from which to choose to donate his salary instead. His conviction allowed him to recover to the form that made the Angels want him over the winter finishing the season with a .296 batting average.
September 23, 1978
In the heat of one of the Angels first pennant chases in it franchise history, Bostock went 2-4 on road at Chicago’s Comiskey Park against the White Sox. After the game Lyman drove to Gary, Indiana to visit his uncle Thomas Turner whom he spent much time with growing up without his father. A confluence of events transpired over the next 8 hours that Angel fans mourn to this very day and ask themselves what could have been. As Lyman & His Uncle drove Turner’s goddaughter Barbara Smith across town they reached the intersection of 5th and Jackson. It was here that Barbara Smith’s estranged husband who was following them from Turner’s home, opened fire with a .410 gauge shotgun which he shot into the backseat of the car aiming for whom he thought was his wife Barbara, but was actually Lyman. Bostock was shot in the temple and died shortly after at a local hospital.
The age of 27 is a mercurial age. An age for which many discover themselves, figure out their path in life and get ready to walk down that path and accept their role in their world. Many who knew Lyman would say that he had reached this apex much sooner than most and knew that his gift was just that a gift and that any day it could be taken away. So it was easy to see why he cherished the fact that fans would wait for hours after games to say hello and often would stay until he signed every last autograph he could. It was also understandable how much he appreciated his gift in the way that he supported the baseball program at his alma mater California State University Northridge.
Memorable Moments/Games: Two weeks before Bostock left us, he showed his fiery passionate side by charging the mound against Al Hrabowsky of the Kansas City Royals after he was nearly hit in the head by one of Hrabowsky’s fastballs. Once at the mount he delivered a blow to Hrabowsky that Kermit Washington would be proud of.
On July 24th, 1976 Bostock not only hit for the cycle against the Boston Red Sox in the second game of a double header, but also recorded 12 of his 17 putouts of the day which is an American League record that still stands today.
Contributed by Jim Streifel - AngelsWin.com Contributor