Forgotten Players Who Died Before Their Time

Associated Press

Associated Press

Lyman Bostock (27)

September 24, 1978

Lyman Bostock was a solid ballplayer just entering his prime. The son of a Negro Leaguer, Lyman was a solid hitter, quick on the bases, and an excellent outfielder. Coming over from the Minnesota Twins to the California Angels as a free agent in 1978, he was expected to lead his team. While he struggled at first (and even offered to give owner Gene Autry part of his salary back), he turned it on in June, hitting .404 with an .890 OPS.

A native of Gary, Indiana, Bostock went to his hometown following an afternoon game against the Chicago White Sox. There he had dinner with his uncle and then met up with a childhood friend, Joan Hawkins, and Hawkins’ sister, Barbara Smith. Smith was estranged from her husband Leonard Smith, who was following Barbara under suspicion of infidelity. As Bostock and his uncle gave the two women a ride, Leonard Smith pulled up along side the car, while stopped at an intersection. Leonard Smith pulled out a shotgun and shot Bostock. While he intended to hit his estranged wife, he hit the Angels outfielder. Bostock died the morning of the September 24. Leonard Smith pled insanity and spent only six months in a mental institution before being released. The mental institution released Smith due to them not finding any mental issue with him.

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