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Patrick Reusse

Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968.

From Sept. 25, 1988: Bostock's murder still causes pain, bewilderment

This is a piece I wrote on the 10th anniversary of Lyman Bostock's murder and was published in the Star Tribune on Sept. 25. 1988:

LYMAN BOSTOCK WAS STANDING in the visitors' clubhouse at Met Stadium. Bostock was in a batter's stance, even though he was dressed only in a towel. 

"I was the original April fool," Bostock said. "I watched some videotape of myself. I was pumping my leg, lunging forward, almost falling down. Man, did I look funny. I looked like Sadaharu Oh."

Don Baylor, sitting nearby, said, "You didn't look that good."

This was Sept.19, 1978. Bostock was providing a postgame parody of the way he had been swinging five months earlier, during his first days with the California Angels. Bostock started the season 2-for-39 and finished April batting .147.

During the previous offseason, Bostock had left the Twins to sign a five-year, $2.5-million contract with the Angels and owner Gene Autry. Bostock was so sheepish about his poor start that he donated his first two paychecks from Autry to charity.

By mid-September, Bostock had moved his average to .298. In the last game Bostock played at the Met, he went 2-for-4 with an RBI, as Nolan Ryan pitched California to a 4-1 victory. The crowd was announced at 3,747. With the loss, the Twins dropped to 68-82, 17 games behind.

One year earlier, Rodney Carew, Larry Hisle and Bostock had been the triggermen for an amazing offense that had kept the Twins in contention until the season's final two weeks. Hisle had left for Milwaukee and Bostock for California as free agents. Sir Rodney was on his way to California after the 1978 season.

Bostock pointed at a baseball writer from St. Paul. "There's my man Poison Pen," Bostock said, laughing. "I'll bet you've been hacking and slashing on these poor guys. Hosken (Powell). Willie (Norwood). I'll bet you've been tearing 'em up."

Bostock laughed louder. He was dressed now, shirt, tie and waist-length leather jacket. It was time to catch the bus to the airport, where the Angels would fly to Chicago for a series at Comiskey Park, then head to Anaheim to finish the season.

Bostock hoisted a carrying bag over his shoulder and offered a handshake. "You take it easy on those guys down the hall, Poison," Bostock said. "See you next year."

Bostock's fourth season in the big leagues was coming to a close. Bostock's rookie year, 1975, had been shortened when he ran full-speed into the center-field wall in Oakland and broke an ankle. He had batted .323 for the Twins in 1976, had improved that to .336 in 1977. His career average was .311.

Lyman Wesley Bostock Jr. was 27.

WHEN THOMAS TURNER drives through the streets of Gary, Ind., he doesn't look into the face of the person at the wheel of a car in the next lane. "I hate to look directly at people," Turner said. "If a car is stopped at a light, I won't pull up side by side. I'll hang back a little. If a car backfires, you jump automatically."

It was 10:45 on a Saturday night when Turner's 1976 Buick Limited was stopped at a light at Fifth Av. and Jackson in downtown Gary. Turner was driving, and Joan Hawkins was in the front passenger seat. Joan's sister, Barbara Smith, was in the back seat, sitting on the left. Turner's nephew, Lyman Bostock, was sitting on the right.

Leonard Smith, Barbara's estranged husband, pulled alongside Turner's car on the right and fired a shotgun through the rear-quarter glass of the sedan. The blast struck Bostock in the right temple. Barbara Smith escaped with superficial wounds - one pellet in the neck and cuts from the flying glass.

"There was a tavern on the right side of the street," Turner said. "First off, I thought it was a noise coming from in front of there. Then, the car on the right hurried off and I turned and saw Lyman bleeding. Barbara Smith yelled, `That's my old, stupid husband. Get after him.' I said, `I can't do that. My nephew has been shot. I have to get him to the hospital.' "

Turner drove a couple of blocks, then ran into a grocery store and called an ambulance.The ambulance took Bostock to St. Mary's Medical Center. He never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead at 1:20 a.m. on Sept. 24, 1978.

A few hours later, Leonard Smith was arrested on a charge of murder. "The news stories had the police saying Smith was trying to kill his wife," Turner said. "I never believed thatIf Smith wanted to shoot Barbara, he could have pulled up on the left side. The lane was open. Barbara had told Smith she was getting a divorce. Smith shot the person he wanted to shoot. He thought he was shooting Barbara's boyfriend. He wasn't, but that's what he thought."

BOSTOCK’S MURDER WAS AMONG 65 committed that year in Gary, a city of 150,000. Gary's per-capita murder rate in 1978 was the highest for any city in the United States.

Gary's mean streets didn't discourage Bostock from visiting his relatives. When he was playing in Chicago, it was Bostock's custom to stay at the home of Edward Turner, another uncle.

"We were all raised in the same house in Birmingham (Ala.)," Thomas Turner said. "My sister, Annie Pearl, had separated from Lyman's father before he was born. When she brought the baby home, she brought him to our house. My mother was married to Columbus Crawford and had six children. When Crawford died, she married my father, Will Turner, and had seven more.

"We were Turners and Crawfords, but we were all one family, and Lyman was treated like the youngest brother. We called him `Red Bone.' He was a scrawny kid, and he'd get out there in the sun and he'd just
turn red. He turned so red, it seemed like he was X-rayed and you could see his bones.

"Lyman called my mother `Mama,' just like the rest of us did. Mama took care of the discipline. She would whup Lyman with the willow switch just like she whupped the rest of us when we were growing Up."

Two members of the family, James Crawford and Edward Turner, headed for Gary to work in the steel mills in 1947. Other family members followed in the years to come. Several other Crawfords and
Turners headed for California.

In 1958, Bostock and his mother spent the summer in Gary. Lyman was 7.

"I was dating Joan Hawkins' mother at that time," Thomas Turner said. "Joan was a little bit of a thing, and Lyman would read to her. When the Angels were in Chicago that last time, we got to talking about
that summer and that cute little girl. Lyman asked whatever happened to her. I said, `Joan only lives a few blocks from here. If you want, we'll drive by and say hello.' "

Joan wasn't home. Her sister, Barbara Smith, suggested that Turner and Bostock drop back later.

"We ate dinner at Edward's house, then drove past Joan's again," Turner said. "She was there this time. Lyman went inside, and Joan's relatives got all excited because he was a ballplayer. Lyman spent a half-hour signing autographs, shaking hands, being friendly to everyone, like always. When Lyman came out, Joan and Barbara were with him. They wanted us to drop them off at a cousin's house. I couldn't have driven more than five, six blocks when it happened."

Thomas Turner paused repeatedly through this conversation. "Ten years, but I don't think you ever get over it," he said. "You cope with it, but as far as getting over it, no."

HISLE’S SON, LARRY JR., will graduate from Mequon (Wis.) High School next spring. Larry Jr., a 6-4 guard, is a Division I basketball ecruit. The family of three - the Larrys and Sheila - has lived in the Milwaukee area since Hisle signed with the Brewers.

"Now that Larry is graduating, it might be time to move to a warmer climate," Hisle said. "I'd like to get back in baseball in some capacity. And Sheila and I would like to live close to where Larry will be going to school, so we can watch him play."

Since UCLA is one of the schools interested in Larry Jr.'s basketball and academic skills, that could be southern California.

"Lyman would find that amusing," Hisle said. "He liked Minnesota, but according to Lyman, no place could touch California. It had the best baseball, the best football, the best basketball, the best beaches, the best sun, the most attractive people. California was it."

Bostock and Hisle were roommates and constant companions on the road. Sheila Hisle and Yuovene Bostock became close friends. The Hisles have maintained that bond with Yuovene over the past 10 years.

"Yuovene is a very good friend," Sheila said.

"I've never had a friend as close as Lyman," Hisle said. "He was an unbelievable person. He played the game so hard that you would've been embarrassed to be on the field with him and not give 100 percent.
And he was a total people person, great with the fans."

Although teammates and reporters rarely saw them, Hisle said Bostock was capable of quiet moments. "In Minnesota, we often would go fishing early in the morning," Hisle said. "Lyman could sit there for a long time and not say much, although he would keep reminding me he was the world's greatest fisherman. He was always the best at everything. Just ask him.

"The only time I saw that change was one morning when we were fishing and he hooked a gar. He pulled that thing alongside the boat, it showed him those big teeth and Lyman yelled, `Help me, Larry, help me.' "

Larry Hisle laughed, but there was a sadness to its sound. "When Lyman died, Yuovene asked us to come to California and stay with her for a few days," Hisle said. "At night, Sheila and Yuovene would talk, and I would take long walks. I would ask myself, `How could this happen to someone who had so much to offer as a person as Lyman?' I still can't answer that.

"It has been 10 years. I still miss him."

AFTER SPENDING THE SUMMER OF '58 in Gary, Annie Pearl Bostock received a phone call from another brother, Cliff Crawford, who was living in Los Angeles. He told her it would be easy to find a good-paying job in southern California, and that was the place to raise her son.

Legend has it that when Annie and Lyman arrived in L.A., she had $7 in her purse. "I don't know if it was that much," Annie Bostock said last week. "I knew I did have some money being sent to me, and we were going to live at my brother's for a time. I received work right after I got here, so we were OK."

Annie Bostock spent 20 years working as a technician at the Cedars Hospitals before her retirement. "Now, I attend senior-citizen meetings, visit friends in convalescent homes and help at the church,'' Annie said.

The church is Vermont Square United Methodist, where the funeral for Annie's son was held on Sept. 29, 1978.

"There is nothing you can do about grief, except ask for God's help," Annie said. "After time passes, you try to let it be, to make peace with it."

Annie talks frequently with Yuovene, a real estate agent. "I live in Inglewood, and Yuovene isn't far from here," Annie said. "She's had a tough time with it. Yuovene hasn't remarried, although I get the idea she might be thinking about it.

"She's a wonderful girl, but I doubt it if she would want to talk to a reporter about Lyman. It would be too painful."

Annie was right. Yuovene Bostock declined to be interviewed.

As for Bostock's father, Lyman Sr., a former player for the Birmingham Black Barons in the Negro Leagues, Annie said: "Last I heard, he still was in Birmingham. That was many years ago."

The Twins brought Bostock Sr. to Minnesota to play in an Old-timers Game in 1976. If the Twins expected a heart-warming reunion between father and son, they were wrong.

"I don't think Lyman disliked his daddy," Thomas Turner said. "He just didn't know the man. I remember Lyman telling us that he started seeing his father once in a while after he started playing ball. Lyman
would tell him, `I don't know you. I've never met you. How do I know who you are?' "

LEONARD AND BARBARA SMITH were married in 1974. They separated as many as15 times over the next four years, and Barbara called the police on several occasions, asking to have her husband kept away from her. The Smiths had argued earlier that September day, and Barbara told her husband she was going to get a divorce.

"The man had no trouble with the law, except in situations involving his wife," said Nick Thiros Sr., Smith's defense attorney. "He was irrational, insanely jealous, when it concerned her."

Smith's trial was held in Lake County Court in Crown Point, Ind., in July 1979. Thiros pleaded Smith not guilty by reason of mental incompetence at the time of the crime.

"That defense attorney was like Perry Mason," said Edward Turner, Bostock's uncle, who attended the trials. "He was one of those guys who never lost a case. He had a knack of getting people to say things they didn't mean on the witness stand."

The first trial ended with a hung jury. Smith, then 32, went to trial for a second time in November 1979. After five hours of deliberation, the jury of 10 women and two men found Smith not guilty because of temporary insanity.

"There was such an outcry after the verdict that Indiana state law was changed in the next legislative session," Lake County prosecutor Jack Crawford said. "We're now one of 12 states with a law where you can be found both guilty and mentally ill. We can treat you for the mental illness and then punish you for the crime.

"If this had been the law at the time Lyman Bostock was murdered, Leonard Smith would have spent a long time in prison. The outcome of that case still bothers me as much as any I've tried."

Judge James Kimbrough sent Smith to a mental institution at Logansport, Ind., in December 1979. On June 20, 1980, Smith was released by Judge Felix Kaul. The judge had been informed by mental-health authorities that Smith was not mentally ill.

At that time, Jack Crawford said: "Smith has beaten the system. He found his way through a loophole, and now he's a free man."

Last week, Crawford offered this twist of irony. "Guess who showed up on the list for jury duty a couple of weeks ago? Leonard Smith. He was disqualified when they checked on his past, but he was there among the prospective jurors."

"I've talked to Leonard maybe a couple of times in recent years," Thiros said. "He hasn't had any further trouble with the police. He operates a used car lot in Gary."

Smith's lot is located on Fifth Av. and Virginia. Eight blocks to the west, also on Fifth Av., is where Thomas Turner's Buick was stopped, waiting for a light to change, at 10:45 p.m. on Sept. 23, 1978.

Reusse: NFL wants defenders scared, so it'll support flag-happy ref

The NFL is making it up as it goes along with this nonsensical overreaction to quarterbacks being tackled. There is no chance -- and I’ll say this in honor of the late, great Jerry Seeman -- that the NFL officials making the rounds of training camps showed a tape of past tackles identical to those made by Clay Matthews and Eric Kendricks and said:

“This is illegal. If you a tackle a quarterback in this manner, your team will be penalized 15 yards and then we will steal $20,054 from your next pay check – or more, if Roger Goodell’s lackeys feel the urge.’’

Tom Pelissero from NFL.com gets his information from the lackey's mouth when it comes to these matters, and he reported Monday that the NFL plans to double-down on the fiasco that took place on Sunday in Lambeau Field:

Not only will the league fail to apologize for the fact that the overzealous, egomaniacal referee, Tony Corrente, decided the outcome of an entertaining ballgame, they will send tapes to all teams claiming that the “scoop and pull’’ tactic of Matthews (and also Kendricks) was worthy of a penalty.

Pelissero reported that the tackles of Matthews on Kirk Cousins and Kendricks on Aaron Rodgers could be deemed illegal under a section of the rulebook devoted to roughing the passer that states.

“A rushing defender is prohibited from committing such intimidating and punishing acts as 'stuffing' a passer into the ground or unnecessarily wrestling or driving him down after the passer has thrown the ball ...,'' with this addendum:

"The technique of grabbing the passer from behind the leg(s), scooping and pulling in an upward motion is considered a foul.''

There is a serious problem with this contention. Matthews was in front and slightly to Cousins’ right side as he aimed a tackle at the quarterback’s midsection – pretty much the lone legal hitting area on a quarterback,

Cousins felt Matthews’ presence and rose up off his back leg to get enough on the throw. An instant later, Matthews hit him in the midsection – no lift being necessary, with Cousins already partially off the ground – and took the quarterback to Lambeau’s green grass.

As he did so, Matthews used his left hand to brace the fall, to make sure he didn’t put his weight on Cousins and violate that part of the NFL’s new requirements that quarterbacks should be treated as Lladro porcelain.

There was no scoop and pull, simply a text-book tackle in the midsection, and certainly nothing remotely close to Corrente’s pompous, postgame mistruth: “He picked the quarterback up and drove him into the ground.’’

He did not. The NFL knows that Corrente was wrong. Trouble is, the phonies in the league office don’t want to do anything that will dissuade defensive players from continuing to be running scared when they get near a quarterback.

So, and this is my assumption, Alberto Riverson -- now the chief excuse-maker for absurd refereeing -- said to his hench people:

“Come up with some ridiculous explanation on how those calls made in Green Bay by flag-happy Tony fit in our rules, and then we’ll steal $20,000 from Kendricks and maybe more from Matthews – he had a roughing last week – and put this fiasco behind us.

“And here’s the good part: Once we get away with spreading this manure with the media, we can call anything roughing for the rest of the season.''

Sure enough, one of the hench people came back with, “Let’s call it a violation of the ‘scoop and pull’ provision.’’

To which Riveron undoubtedly responded: “There is a ‘scoop and pull’ provision? That's great. After this, we'll have Corrente give a 15-yard penalty to a pass rusher for making the quarterback feel claustrophobic.''

While theorizing, I have a another one on Roger and Jerry, Kroenke and Kraft, and the rest of the ruthless, money-mad cabal that operates the NFL:

This mad rush to fine players is all part of a bigger plan – to make neutral arbitration a major issue for the players in the next negotiation, and thus a distraction for a union that should be devoted to getting more guarranteed money in contracts and to reclaim the 7 percent of revenues that the owners extracted from the players the last time around.

You know this: The NFL, the true Evil Empire of sports, is always conniving in some way to rob the players and make fools of its massive audience.

“Scoop and pull.’’ You betcha, Alberto