Weekly media column version 09.20.13 — Taking stock in the Bostock murder 35 years later with MLB Network’s legwork

UPDATED: 10:30 a.m. FRIDAY:

There remains a sad, strange incompleteness to the story surrounding the shooting death of Lyman Bostock, even 35 years after the fact.

Five years ago, ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” reporter Tom Rinaldi did a piece about how the Angels outfielder was shot and killed while sitting in car in Gary, Indiana, during the team’s road trip to Chicago.

At the time, Rinaldi tracked down the man who murdered Bostock, Leonard Smith – who was tried for murder, found innocent on grounds of insanity, spent six months in a mental institution and was turned loose. Smith still did not explain why he did it.

The MLB Network puts its spin on the story (a preview clip above) with a piece that airs Sunday at 7 p.m. – the 35th anniversary of the date it happened. This time, we hear the first on-camera interview with Bostock’s widow, Yuovene Whistler.

“I couldn’t even say that he was murdered,” she says in the piece. “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.”

Bob Costas narrates “The Lyman Bostock Story,” which includes interviews with former Angels broadcaster Dick Enberg, teammates Bert Blyleven, Don Baylor, Kenny Landreaux, Roy Smalley and Ron Jackson, plus former Angels manager Jim Fregosi. Bostock’s former agent, Abdul-Jalil al-Hakim is also included, saying Bostock “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.”

Enberg was close to Bostock during that one and only season they crossed paths. Enberg, of course, was once a teacher and baseball coach at San Fernando Valley State, which became Cal State Northridge.

Enberg recalls in the MLB piece how he had to go on the air and announce Bostock’s death to the L.A. TV audience.

“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.”

Here’s a piece we did in 2008 ago about Bostock’s story being told by Rinaldi, which included a story by staff writer Jill Painter. Here’s more from when we talked to Enberg at the time about how he remembered Bostock.

== On today’s 40th anniversary of the Billie Jean King-Bobby Riggs “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match, ESPN’s “Outside The Lines” (1:30 p.m., ESPN2) circles back to investigate whether Riggs rigged the event at the Houston Astrodome to claim a bigger payday from gamblers.

== Another installment of CBS’ “Stars on Sports” sends Ian Eagle to sit down with director Ron Howard as his new movie, “Rush,” opens in L.A. and New York, and plans to spread nationwide next week. Also included are interviews with Tony Danza, Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg. The piece airs Saturday (11 a.m., Channel 2) leading into the Tennessee-Florida football game coverage.

== One must assume CBS’ decision announced this week to put Greg Anthony as the game analyst with Jim Nantz on the NCAA men’s basketball championship A-team, and sent Clark Kellogg to the studio, is because someone (particularly at TNT) is finally paying attention what each has to offer.
“We believe this shuffling of our lineup allows both Greg and Clark to play more to their individual strengths,” CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said.
Kellogg’s stale commentary offered up in an authoritative way was to be expected several years ago when CBS decided he was the best they had to replace the retiring Billy Packer in 2008.
“It’s not my job to agree or disagree with it. It’s something the bosses thought would be good for the group,” Kellogg told the Columbus Dispatch. “Organizational change is inevitable. My job is to embrace it and do my best in whatever job I’ve been given. I’ve always felt that nobody’s indispensable. I’m a team guy. The Bible says be joyful, prayerful and thankful at all times. That’s how I try to live.”
CBS’ college basketball schedule starts Saturday, Dec. 7 with UCLA’s game at Missouri.

== Will you pay closer attention to Turner Sports-owned BleacherReport.com now that they’ve thrown some money at fairly well-known print NBA reporters in order to up their profile? Perhaps.
The most recognizable name of the four new hiring announced Wednesday is Howard Beck, the former Lakers beat writer for the L.A. Daily News who has been at the New York Times for the last nine years. Kevin Ding, the Lakers’ beat writer since 1999, is also coming over to continue covering the team. Ethan Skolnick, covering the Miami Heat at the Palm Beach Post, and Jared Zwerling, who has been at ESPN.com, also come over.

== Larry Burnett and Michael Cooper will call Time Warner Cable SportsNet coverage of the Sparks’ WNBA playoff Game 2 against Phoenix on Saturday (7 p.m.). Dave Miller and Jaime Maggio host the pre- and post-game show.

== John Goodman narrates the ESPN Films’ “The Book Of Manning,” (Tuesday, 5 p.m.), looking at the life of former NFL quarterback Archie Manning and wife Olivia raised their three sons, two of whom you may have heard of in the current NFL world.

== Links back to the broadcast teams and TV games for the NFL and college football this weekend.

== Verne Lundquist’s 50th year in sportscasting is celebrated in a Q-and-A with Ed Sherman. Of course, it all goes back to his cameo in the Adam Sandler movie “Happy Gilmore,” as Verne recalls:
“One time, I’m doing a North Carolina game with Billy Packer. I’m told Tyler Hansbrough wants me to address the team. I say, ‘No, you want Billy.’ They said, ‘No, they want you.’
“So I go down there, and Hansbrough says, ‘We need you to say, ‘Who the hell is Happy Gilmore?’ So I go, ‘Who the hell is Happy Gilmore?’ The players go crazy. I said, ‘If you guys win the national championship, I expect to get credit for giving you a motivational speech.’ They won, but I never got any credit.”

== The New York Times’ Richard Sandomir, on Yankees broadcaster John Sterling (be glad he’s not doing Dodgers or Angels games).

== And thanks plenty for this sound advice on how to get the Pac-12 Network. Sure, go ahead and switch from DirecTV to Dish Network. If you want to have ESPN ripped out from under you.

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