Posted on: October 16, 2009 1:30 am
Edited on: October 16, 2009 2:01 am

Death Of A Player

Do you remember when a player you thought was the greatest or played for your favorite team died and how weird it felt? I sure as hell do. I was only eight years old on September 23, 1978 but I would be nine in October. By this time, I was very knowledgeable in baseball probably because I was obsessed with it and I could recite stats off the back of player's baseball card. Plus, I loved to play it and became pretty good. I would play from sunrise to sunset with anyone who wanted to throw the ball or go to the cages.

Alright, let me get back on track here. Death. My first "Death" experience came when Lyman Bostock of the California Angels was shot, murdered, while visiting his hometown of Gary, Indiana. I was in disbelief when I first heard the news and I know exactly where I was.

When I saw the news report on TV while at my grandmother's house, I really didn't know what was going on. I just could not comprehend that he would not be coming on the field the next day against Chicago, and then it hit me, he is never going to play again and I will never get to see him play again. I was thinking, "I just watched him play on TV against the White Sox that same day, so how could he have been shot?" I had the mind of a nine year old, so I didn't think of players as human and thought they stayed at the stadium or something. I was pretty crushed.

Bostock was an excellent right fielder and hit for a high average. He finished second for the batting title in 1977 with a .336 average. His Twin roommate at that time, Rod Carew, was first. He came to the Angels the next year as a free agent and was a big deal at the time. The Angels were still a young franchise but started to show signs that they could compete for a pennant. The Angels went to the playoffs for the first time in 1979. Who knows what would have happened if he was on that team. The Angels sure could of used a good left handed hitter against the Orioles great pitching staff.

Not only was Bostock a good baseball player, he was a better person because he was very honest, modest, selfless, smart, and giving. He signed for a lot of money then and there was a lot of scrutiny on him since free agency just started and salaries were getting big. After signing, he donated $10,000 to charity. He started off the 78 season in a huge slump and felt bad about taking his salary, so he went to management and tried to return his salary for April, but the team would not accept. He gave it to a charity instead.

After that game in Chicago, he went to visit his uncle in Gary, Indiana where he was born. They had dinner and then went to visit a girl he had tutored in high school. His uncle agreed to take her and a friend to the friend's cousin's house. The friend was separated from her husband at the time who was outside the house in his car when they left. The husband followed them and pulled up beside them on the right and pulled out his shotgun firing one shot into the car. Bostock was seated in the front seat next to the window. He later died from the gunshot wound while nobody else was injured. The husband said he thought Bostock and his wife were having an affair, but Bostock met her only 20 minutes before the incident. He said he meant to shoot her.

The worst part of the story is the murderer was found not guilty by reason of insanity after the first trial ended in a hung jury. He spent only 21 months in jail until the jury made a decision and spent about seven months more in a psychiatric hosptial when he was miraculously cured and declared not insane anymore.

The murderer's name is Leonard Smith and supposedly still lives in Gary but has not commented publicly about the murder since his release. I would like to see and hear Mr. Smith publicly apologize to the Bostock family, Angel fans and every baseball fan who was robbed of the opportunity to see a great player. I encourage everyone to attempt to contact this monster and pressure him for an apology.  ASF

Posted on: October 12, 2009 9:49 pm

Paper Cups at the Ballgame

When I was a young kid and up to my teens, drinks at the ballgame were served in paper cups. The great thing about them was that they could be turned upside down and stomped on which would make a loud booming noise that's hard to describe. If you're over 30 you might know what I'm talking about. After every game, me and my friends would round up as many as we could and stomp the hell out of them to get them to pop. It was something that took practice and focus. It's funny now because I think back and remember that popping sound all over the stadium after a game. The cups at Anaheim Stadium had "Szabo" on them for so long and it was a sad day when it changed, but I can't remember to what. I worked for Joe Szabo when I was a busboy at the Stadium Club restaurant from 1985 to 1990.

Category: General
Posted on: October 12, 2009 7:37 am

23 Years Ago Today

It was a beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon at Anaheim Stadium. I was working as a bus boy at the Stadium Club restaurant inside the stadium that day.  I went for that job, so I could see the Angels, and Rams, games for free.  I was only 17 and a huge Angels fan. I've been to game 3 of the 79 ALCS when the Angels won the only game of the series. I also went to game 2 of the 82 ALCS which the Angels won to go up 2-0. Everyone thought this was the year but they lost three straight to the Brewers.
Then, on this date in 1986, I finished work in the 5th inning, and a friend and I went into the stands looking for a place to watch the game. The Angels were playing the Red Sox and it was game 5 of the ALCS. We were in the outfield when Grich hit a two run homer to give the Angels a 3-2 lead. We were running up and down the aisle giving high fives. People were going crazy and it's the loudest I've heard it there. That was when the stadium was enclosed and sat almost 70,000 people and every seat was filled. The Angels added two more in the 7th and were up 5-2.

It was now the top of the 9th and we had made our way to the railing down the left field line right in the middle. We were ready to jump on the field and celebrate the Angels first AL pennant and a trip to the World Series. We were talking about what we were going to try to get: the resin bag, players hat, glove, anything. I think fans running on the field after their team won a pennant was great and should be allowed. It's a tradition.

Mike Witt was still in the game and looked like he could go all the way. Bill Buckner came up first and got a single. Jim Rice struck out on three pitches. Don Baylor, former league MVP with the Angels in 1979, was up and hit a bomb that made it 5-4. Witt was left in to face Dwight Evans and got him to pop up. There were 2 outs and nobody on base and Rich Gedman was coming up, and he had already hit a home run off Witt. Gene Mauch decided to take Witt out for a lefty named Gary Lucas to face the lefty Gedman. He hit Gedman with the first pitch. Mauch then brought in the closer, Donnie Moore, to face Dave Henderson, who took the count to 2-2 and the crowd going nuts on every two strike pitch thinking it would be the last out. Henderson battled and fouled off a few pitches. Then, Henderson made contact and the sound of the ball hitting the bat sounded like they do in batting practice, which means he hit it well, and gone. They were ahead 6-5 and we were devastated. We've had so many heartbreaks with the Angels. Moore got the next guy and was not very well liked at the time.

The Angels tied the game in the bottom of the 9th and had the bases loaded with one out with DeCinces and Grich coming up but could not get the winning run home. Boston finally scored in the 11th and the Angels lost when they only needed one strike to go to the World Series. It felt like the worst day of my life because my expectations got so high. I knew the series was over too because they had to go back to Boston for two games against Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd and Roger Clemens in game 7. I couldn't watch that game.

Everyone in southern California was blaming Donnie Moore for the loss, but it wasn't entirely his fault. I blame Gene Mauch mostly for taking Witt out even though Gedman already hit a home run off him. Moore's career didn't last much longer after that and was out of the league by 1988. The next year he shot his wife at their home in Anaheim Hills during an argument with his children watching. His wife and daughters got out of the house and then he shot himself fatally in front of his sons.

I wonder. Would Donnie Moore be alive today if he had gotten that last strike?
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