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. Continue reading