Lyman Bostock, a 27-year-old star outfielder for the California Angels and one of the highest paid players in baseball, was shot to death Saturday night by a man who was attempting to kill his estranged wife, police said.

Bostock, who was riding in a car enroute to a dinner outing, was taken to St. Mary's Hospital after he was shot at point-blank range with a shotgun. Doctors worked on him for 3 1/2 hours before he died at 1:30 a.m. yesterday.

Police Sgt. Robert Highsmith said Bostock, the American League's eighth leading hitter at .296, was riding in the back seat of a car driven by his uncle, Thomas Turner, after the Angels were defeated, 5-4, by the white Sox in nearby Chicago Saturday.

In the back seat with Bostock was Barbara Smith, 26, a recent acquaintance. Mrs Smith's sister, Joan Hawkins, also was in the car. The four had planned to go out for a late dinner and were on their way to the restaurant when the shooting occurred at about 10:40 p.m., police said.

Bostock just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time," Highsmith said.

Highsmith said the shooting occurred in the view of numerous pedestrians at a crossroads intersection dividing Gary's residential and business districts. Turner had stopped his car at an earlier stop light when the suspect pulled up beside them in another automobile.

Barbara Smith recognized the driver as Leonard Smith, her estranged husband," Highsmith said. "They apparently has some type of conversation in the car because out reports indicate Mr. Turner ran two stop lights to get away from the alleged killer.

"At fifth and Jackson streets the suspect pulled alongside and fired point blank into the car, apparently witha 410 gauge or a 20 gauge shotgun," Highsmith said.

Leonard Smith, 31, was arrested yesterday morning. Police planned to seek formal charges of homicide and attempted murder today Highsmith said. Barbara Smith was hospitalized in fair condition with pellet wounds of her face, he added.

Abdul Jalili, Bostock's business agent, said the women in the car were Turner's godchildren.

"He was not out flirting with women," Jalil said in California. "The women were his uncle's godchildren. They were like brothers and sisters.

"He (Bostock) had been out signing autographs for kids in the Gary ghetto and minutes later he's shot in the head."

Jalil said Bostock's heirs, including his wife Yuovene, will continue to receive payment under the player's contract.

Bostock, who came to the major leagues with Minnesota in 1975, hit .323 in 1976 nand .336 for the Twins in 1977 and then became a free agent and signed a multiyear contract with the Angels for over $2 million.

Major League batting leader Rod Carew, who was Bostock's teammate with the Twins, expressed disbelief.

"I just can't believe it," he said. "He was liked by everybody on the club. I know his wife real well, and all of us share in her grief."

Bostock made headlines early this season when he tried to give a month's salary back to the club because he was playing poorly.

When club owner Gene Autry wouldn't take the money, Bostock gave it to charity.

Bostock's father, Lyman Bostock Sr. made $5,000 a year in his prime playing for Negro Professional Leagus teams.

Lyman Jr. was making that much a game.