Thursday, September 18, 2008

Lyman Bostock 30 years later



Most of you in New England and those of you under 40 probably have zero idea who Lyman Bostock is. Hell, I might not have even known who Lyman Bostock was unless I had seen highlights of a Sox/Twins series in 1976 when he just smashed the ball all over the Sox and promptly dug out my baseball cards to see if I had him. I did...what followed was my 1st man crush on an opposing player. I followed him in the newspaper, followed him on Strat-O-Matic (lets go all you geeks and see who remembers Strat-O-Matic) and followed him on This Week In Baseball.

Lyman Bostock was a player every team wanted, a versitle outfielder with a sweet swing that could hit for average. He was granted free agency from the Twins in 1977 and signed with the California Angels promptly there after. It was too bad he left the Twins, because Bostock and Rod Carew together for a few more years, could have been very formidable. Anyway my man crush reached its zenith, when, as a 10 year old boys dream came true, I was to attend my 1st Red Sox game. As fate would have it, the Red Sox were playing the California Angels...August 27, 1978, a glorious sunny Sunday. I will never forget the 1st time my own eyes laid sight to the Fenway green. Walking up that ramp, to the right field grandstand seats, will give me goose bumps the rest of my life. There, warming up was Fred Lynn, Dwight Evans and Jim Rice...OH MY GOD....I WAS IN FENWAY PARK!!!! As we all know, the 1978 Red Sox were loaded! Rice, Evans and Lynn in the outfield, Yaz was the DH, Pudge catching. The infield was some combo of Rick Burleson, The Rem Dog Jerry Remy, Butch Hobson, Jack Brohamer, George Scott and the immortal Frak Duffy. WOW! Luis Tiant was warming in the Sox bullpen and wowsy wowsy it was on...then..out of the corner of my eye I saw my opposing man crush, Lyman Bostock. Man did I wish the Red Sox would trade for him...although who knew where the hell they would play him, I still wanted him. Anyway, it was a game for the ages, went 12 innings, Fred Lynn hit a HR 15 rows in front of us, my hero Pudge Fisk drove in what we thought would be the winning run in the bottom of the 8th. El Tiante tired in the 9th and allowed the tying run, then the Angels went ahead with Don Baylor singling home Rick Miller in the top of the 12 off of..you see it coming...don't you..Bob Stanley. The Sox then had a great bottom of the 12th,when Fisk, Evans, George Scott, Jerry Remy all had hands in getting on base and ending in Butch Hobson's single to center ending the game. What a 1st game experience. The Sox won in extra innings, and I got to watch Lyman Bostock play right field for 12 innings...unreal!

Fast forward 1 month later, September 22 1978, sitting down to watch Frankie Fix on the WGAN Evening News and hear him tell me Lyman Bostock had been shot and killed the night before in Gary, Indiana. Stunned! A little boy had lost his 1st sports star to a murder of all things. I struggled to understand the story, but I knew someone, in a sport I loved, and a player from another team I followed, had seen 1 month prior, was gone, dead. For a few days I forgot about the Red Sox totally losing their minds and the Yankees gaining ground, I was consumed by Bostock's death. It was most definitely one of those watershed moments in sports for me as a child. I could be wrong, but I seem to remember Frankie Fix doing a commentary on Bostock, maybe i just want to remember it that way so that someone else in this area knew the kind of ballplayer the game had lost. All these years later, ask anyone I run with, Bostock's name comes up often as I want people to understand the player he was. I will always remember Lyman Bostock.

The reason I write this piece now is that ESPN.com's Outside the Lines has posted an in depth story on Bostock and will run the story Sunday's television program. I felt some pub needed to be given to this story. Please take a few minutes, it is long, you won't be sorry you read it.

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