Lyman Bostock made a special point of coming over and talking to Ron Schueler, who was shagging fly balls in cavernous Comiskey Park. It was late Saturday morning.
In less than two hours, Bostock, 27, would single, double, ground out twice and walk while raising his batting average two points to 296 in the last baseball game he would play. In less than 12 hours, he would be dead of a shotgun wound in the head.
But late Saturday morning, Lyman Wesley Bostock Jr. wanted to make small talk with White Sox relief pitcher Schueller, a former teammate at Minnesota. A California Angel, Bostock wanted to reiterate his thanks to his good friend. As the Twins' player representative last year. Schueler helped advise Bostock on the decision that led to his signing a five-year $2.25 million contract.
Mostly, Schueler kidded Bostock about the outrageous amount of money Bostock was making. Bostock kidded Schueler about his lack of work in the last three weeks.
"I thought you quit," Bostock told Schueler. They talked and laughed for 30 minutes. Bostock, who hadn't started a family, asked Schueler about his two daughters.
They talked about frigid opening day in Minnesota last year. Bostock's wife, Yuoven, already blue from the cold, turned green with envy when she saw Schueler's wife, Maureen, wearing the new fox coat her husband had bought her.
"He told me she (Yuoven) had been shopping all summer for a coat." whispered Schueler yesterday morning. "He told me she had been having a great time."
Schueler hadn't raised his voice above that level since he heard a bulletin on the car radio that pounded the news into ears that didn't want to hear it.
"I was really stunned," Schueler said. "I turned on the radio as I hit the freeway. I was in a trance all the way in. I don't even remember driving."
"He was such a super guy. We got really close. They said he was cocky when he first came up. I never saw any of that."
Schueler slowly shook his head. "You read about things like this," he said. "They shouldn't happen."
"This is really going to hit Hisle hard," predicated Schueler accorately. Schueler also had helped advise Larry Hisle, who also left the Twins for the free agent draft last fall. Hisle was so shaken by Bostock's death that he didn't play in the Milwaukee Brewers' game Sunday against the Oakland A's.
Schueler remembered last season when Bostock was making a run at teammate Rod Carew for the American League batting title that Carew eventually won. Right before Bostock's streak began, Schueler grabbed him in the Twin clubhouse and shouted, "I gotta shake you up.'"
"He got so hot after that," said Schueler, "that I did it every day. I always had him on the clubhouse floor. We were always messing around."
Bostock, born in Birmingham, Ala., and a resident of Inglewood, Calif., carried that same exuberance with him to the Angeles.
"He like to joke and tease," said Angel relief pitcher Dave La Roche. "And he could take it. He'll be missed as much off the field as on the field. He was a great guy to have on the team."
"His goal in life was to make the Angeles a winner," said Coach Bob Skinner, who spent several long moments with his head buried in his hands before the start of the Sox-Angeles game. "He was very serious about that, and I'm sure he would have done it."
Bostock also was very serious about the contract, a horrendous early season slump convinced him to donate his April paycheck to charity. According to Ross Newhan of the Los Angeles Times, Bostock admitted he had been "hallucinating" and "stepping out of his body." His batting average didn't see the high side of .150 until May.
But he beat the slump and earned more respect from his new teammates and coaches. "He got off to the worst start I've ever seen a ballplayer get off to," said Angel outfielder Merv Rettenmund. "And he battled back. He was a real battler.
California Coach John McNamara also fought tears. "We were close," he said. "Too close."
Rettenmund said the tragedy put the game of baseball in perspective.
"For six months you live and die the game," he said. "You really realize how small it is when something like this happens," California Manager Jim Fregosi's frustrations boiled over in the third inning Sunday when he was ejected by umpire Larry Barnett for arguing a call. His team faced elimination from the American League West Division-title race. And now he had to deal with the Bostock tragedy.
A murder charge was filed yesterday against the estranged husband of the woman believed to have been the target of the shotgun blast, that killed Bostock.
Arraingment for Leonard Smith, 31, was delayed until Friday to give him time to consult with his attorney. Smith appeared briefly before Lake County Superior Court Judge Andrew Giorgi after being transfered from the Gary city jail to the county jail here. He was held without bond.
Sox manager Larry Doby passed on his condolences to Fregosi before the game. "I think we'd all be more comfortable except the tragedy wasn't normal," said Doby. "Being in a car and getting shot is a tough way to die. Only the good die young.