Men of honor, Knights of the Diamond, sometimes are sadly forgotten.
Pee Wee Reese put his Dixie arms around Jackie Robinson’s shoulders
One time and was engulfed in a wave of anger from the fans but did not care.
Hank Greenberg, himself target of fan and player animosity, told Jackie to stick with it,
And became a baseball hero to Number 42, one hero recognizing a fellow icon.
Lyman Bostock was Everyman’s hero, an exemplary player on the field
And a human being nonpareil off the field.
His name rarely resides in the memory or knowledge of even the most astute
Of baseball fans — but it should; there should be an award memorializing him
Much as there is the Roberto Clemente Award honoring great character annually.
Bostock played in the late ‘70’s: four seasons with the Twins and Angels;
He batted .323 and .336 his first two full seasons, with a career
Average of .311 at the plate by the time his time on the field was cut short,
Numbers that invited Cooperstown to create a shiny plaque one day.
From Minnesota, at the start of free agency, after making $20,000 his final Twin year
Of 1977, he signed with the Angels — five years for two-point-three million bucks —
A Midas amount at the time . . . but he was no Midas (and no Scrooge),
As he soon showed. He started his first season with California but struck no gold,
Dipping to .260 after his first month playing for the Halos. He walked right in to
GM Autrey’s office determined to refuse to take that first month’s salary,
Saying he’d “not earned it” (Who else ever said and did those things?) — and when the
Old Cowboy forced the money on him, he did what the rare honorable man
Would have done — he gave that $50,000 to charity, as dictated by his deep integrity.
They say the good die young, and there are times when it is so.
Lyman Bostock never finished out that contract, never made it to the Hall of Fame
(Although he would have). Life is full of what they call vicissitudes and stupidity.
He made the final out against the White Sox on September 23, 1978 and then
Visited his uncle in nearby Gary, Indiana. The two men and two women, lifelong
Family friends, were in a car when another car, driven by the estranged, bitter husband
Of one of the women, approached, grumbling and shooting in blind, wild rage,
Hitting Bostock in the head and killing him. Later it was said that the husband’s
Jealousy had no foundation . . . but it didn’t matter to the almost 28 year-old Bostock.
The next day — and certainly Lyman was the only true Angel on that California team —
Manager Jim Fregosi acknowledged that the game would be played, saying, “We’re
Professionals” but he added, “A good friend is gone. . . . He was close to everyone.”
To preempt the emphatic and empathetic words of the Bard, “This was a man!”