MLB Network will televise the The Lyman Bostock Story this Sunday, September 22 at 10:00 p.m. ET, an original program looking back on the star Minnesota Twins and California Angels outfielder who was murdered four seasons into his career at the age of 27. Narrated by MLB Network's Bob Costas, the special marks the 35th anniversary of Bostock's death on Monday, September 23 and features the first on-camera interview with Bostock's widow, Yuovene Whistler, since the night she lost her husband.
Through interviews with Bostock's former agent Abdul-Jalil al-Hakim, Jim Fregosi, Bostock's manager with the Angels, and several of Bostock's former teammates including Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven, 1979 American League MVP Don Baylor, Kenny Landreaux, Roy Smalley and Ron Jackson, The Lyman Bostock Story recalls Bostock's rise to prominence as a hitter with the second-best batting average in the American League in 1977, and his free agency after the 1977 season, which brought him to the Angels. His contract made Bostock one of the highest paid players in baseball at the time of his death.
In what former prosecutor Jack Crawford describes as "the classic instance of being in the wrong place at the wrong time," Bostock was shot and killed in Gary, Indiana during a September 1978 road trip with the Angels to play the Chicago White Sox. The gunman, Leonard Smith, plead insanity and was spared jail time by being confined to a mental facility, only to be declared sane and released six months later. The controversial verdict ultimately led to a change in Indiana state law. At a time before the Internet, social media and 24-hour news networks, many people first learned of Bostock's death when broadcaster Dick Enberg, who was the play-by-play voice of the Angels at the time, broke the news on the air before the Angels played the White Sox the next afternoon.
Quotes from The Lyman Bostock Story are included below, and additional quotes and advance copies of the program are available via MLB Network PR.
Yuovene Whistler on seeing Bostock after he died:
The worst ever was just seeing his lifeless body lying there and thinking, "What a waste." It didn't get any worse than that.
Whistler on her emotions following Bostock's death:
I couldn't even say that he was murdered. The words would not come off. He just "died." Just admitting that he was murdered was very traumatic. Once I was able to work through my own personal pain and get clarity on that, it really was about Lyman and just his legacy.
Jim Fregosi on being in the Angels' clubhouse the day after Bostock passed away:
I've been in this game 54 years and it's probably the most difficult day I've ever spent. To be surrounded by that type of atmosphere, it is something I would never want to go through again.
Don Baylor on the day after Bostock's death:
There was a photographer inside the locker room wanting to take pictures of [Bostock's] locker, and somehow I picked him up and threw him out of the locker room.
Dick Enberg on calling the Angels at White Sox game following Bostock's death:
It was horrific. I mean, who expects to go on the air having to announce that one of your ballplayers, someone that everyone cares about is dead suddenly? I mean, you came on the air and you started with, "We begin today's broadcast telecast with terrible news," and then just bluntly saying, "Lyman Bostock was murdered last night in Gary, Indiana." We are not trained to handle a tragedy like that, are we? You think in all of baseball history how many times has that happened? Where a ballplayer plays one day and the next day he's expected to appear, but he's gone.
Abdul-Jalil al-Hakim on Bostock's passing:
Lyman was instrumental in having the rules and the laws change in Indiana, so I guess in some ways Lyman still lives. But to me, that's too great a cost.
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