Gillie & Wallo's Knockout Party | Replay Available Until 12/17BUY NOW

On This Date in Sports September 22, 1978 Death of Angel

Lyman Bostock, a rising star playing with the California Angels, is shot and killed at the age of 27. Bostock, who earlier in the day went 2-for-4 with a walk in a 5-4 loss to the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park, was visiting friends and family in Gary, Indiana. A jealous ex-husband saw Lyman Bostock in a car with his wife and shot him in the head.

Lyman Bostock Jr. was born November 22, 1950, in Birmingham, Alabama. His father, Lyman Bostock Sr., played baseball in the Negro League from 1938-1954. After his parents split, Bostock lived with his mother in Gary, Indiana, and later in Los Angeles. The younger Bostock rarely saw his baseball-playing father and felt he was abandoned. After playing baseball at San Fernando Valley State College, Lyman Bostock was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 26th round of the 1972 draft.

Lyman Bostock debuted with the Minnesota Twins in 1975 and was a top-notch center fielder defensively. His breakout would come a year later, finishing third in the American League in hitting with a .323 average. In 1977, Bostock finished second in hitting behind Twins teammate Rod Carew at .336.

After three seasons in Minnesota, Lyman Bostock became a free agent and signed a big contract with the California Angels. Arriving in Anaheim in 1978, Bostock started slowly and tried to give back his April salary, saying he did not earn his money. After Angels Owner Gene Autry refused, he agreed to donate his salary. Lyman Bostock’s struggles were only temporary as he turned things around in June and batted just under .300 as the Angels played in the season's final weeks.

Every time Lyman Bostock played games in Chicago, he would visit his family members living in nearby Gary, Indiana. Playing a day game at Comiskey Park, Bostock went 2-for-4 with a walk and a run scored as the California Angels were beaten by the Chicago White Sox 5-4. After the game, Bostock went to have dinner with several family members at his uncle's home. After the meal, Bostock and his uncle visited a former girlfriend named Joan Hawkins and agreed to give her and her sister Barbra Smith a ride. Smith had recently left her husband, Leonard Smith. Leonard Smith spotted Lyman Bostock sitting in the back seat of his uncle’s car beside Barbara Smith and assumed the two were in a relationship. Pulling out a .410-gauge shotgun, Smith shot Bostock, hitting him in the temple. The Angels’ outfielder was pronounced dead two hours later.

Lyman Bostock batted .311 in a four-year career with 23 home runs, 250 RBI, and 304 runs scored. Leonard Smith confessed to killing Bostock, stating he intended to shoot his wife. He later went to trial for murder. After the first trial resulted in a hung jury, Smith was found not guilty by reason of insanity, stating his wife’s infidelity had made him crazy. He would only spend 21 months in custody and was released after being deemed no longer mentally ill. The outrage of his short time in prison led to reforms of the insanity laws in Indiana.