Sunday, January 31, 2010

Lyman Bostock Story Part 1

Lyman Part 1 You Tube Video

You might decide to read the Lyman post that follows this video before watching it to fill in the cracks I left.

There are some wonderful game shots of him here that really bring his playing ability and character back for me!

Twinkler Out!

Remembering Lyman Bostock

[Notes: make sure you check out the Lyman video posted at the end of this post!] LAST REVISION, TUES., SEPT. 23, 2014

Before anyone ever heard of Kirby Puckett and Torii Hunter, a fellow named Lyman Bostock patrolled centerfield for the Minnesota Twins. He had hitting skills that were compared to Hall Of Famer Stan Musial, and was an excellent defensive player.

He was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1950, eventually relocating to California with his mother a short time later. He never got to know his dad, Lyman Sr., who basically abandoned his family a short time after Lyman was born.

I just loved watching this guy play; to me, he played with a playground passion and abandon. It all looked so easy! Check the videos I linked, and you'll see! His swing was highlighted by his balance, and an ability to wait until the last moment on a breaking ball, and bring his bat around to hit a rope. Amazingly fast hands helped him to get quite a number of hits after he'd made his weight transfer, while hitting off his front foot. Today, only Ichiro Suzuki reminds me of Lyman, in the way he keeps his hands back, adjusting in mid-stride as the pitch is arriving, and hitting the ball where it's pitched.

To this day, I enjoy watching guys who seem to embody the classic spirit of the game: playing it with great skill, but yet with a joy and warmth that only a few people have, just like Kirby and Torii. Lyman's teammates loved him, nicknaming him "Jibberjabber" (see animated b & w photo below) as he was always engaging someone in the clubhouse and on the field.

I still remember watching his first major league game, and at bat, on local Minneapolis station WCCO. Legendary broadcaster Ray Scott was calling the play-by-play. He walked against future Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins. He would come around to score on a groundout by Tony Oliva, and made his first hit in the next inning against Jenkins. The Twins won 11-4, with Bostock scoring three of those runs.
***
In January, 1977, my Minnesota Vikings lost the Super Bowl XI to the Oakland Raiders, 32-14. The bad boy Raiders pushed the aging Vikes defensive line all over the field, all day it seemed!

It was Bowl defeat number four for the Purple. Not only was there a gaping hole left in my sports calendar, but there was that humiliating defeat left to deal with! But, I wouldn't have to wait long for Redemption. My Twins were just around the corner!

I was just into my heyday of being interested in girls, and/or trying to get them interested in me. I remember hanging out with buddies after school at a place called "The Toy Pony," a forerunner to the modern video arcade. It was located next to Gehlen's Jewelry store.We pumped our quarters away into oblivion, waiting for girls to come in, a vain hope. That probably just gave us more time to brag about our skills with the fairer gender - deviant, misguided, horny little creeps that we were - and insult one another. Eventually, my parents forbade my going in there, worried about my turning into a bum.

It was also the last year in my boyhood that I actually would go into stores to purchase baseball cards. The 25-cent, 10 card packs represented a sort of Mason-Dixon line, marking the dividing line in my childhood to adolescence.

****

The spring of 1977 was signaled by the arrival of Twins pitchers and catchers to Tinker Field in Orlando, Florida. It had been that way for the Twins and their forerunners from Washington, D.C. since the second Roosevelt Administration. It would be cool to see if Rod Carew would regain the batting title, and if the Twins could beat out the Royals for the West Division title. I had a hard time keeping my mind on my studies and practicing piano. I think I secretly hoped I'd be a great player, and none of that other stuff would matter in the future. I was a skinny kid, but wiry, and fast and with a decent right handed swing. I loved playing so much, fire came out of my ass. I had even copied Rod Carew's left-handed stance, hitting well that way in Little League. I thought then: "It's a sign!"

The Twins were then an interesting mix of veterans like Carew and Larry Hisle, and young guys like Lyman, Roy Smalley, and Mike Cubbage. That year, they became one of the greatest offensive teams in Twins history. Lyman became an even better player, and was 2nd in the league to Rod Carew in batting, at .336. The famous June 26th game at the Met (which I attended with my cousins Bill, Bob and Uncle Jake) when Rod went over .400 in average while the Twins won 19-12 over Chicago, is one I'll never forget! Glenn Adams had 8 RBI's!

I was crushed when he elected to leave the Twins that fall, and sign with the California Angels (see Jacksonville Courier "Bostock No. 1" and The Sporting News "Bostock Values Angel's Halo Over Big Bucks"). That was compounded when Larry Hisle also left via free agency, to the Milwaukee Brewers. My guys! The batting order was gutted! It would take into the next decade, when the Hrbek, Gaetti & Puckett Twins came along, for the Twins to again rise to prominence.

But that became a small matter a year later, when Lyman Bostock was fatally shot while riding with childhood friends in the streets of Gary, Indiana. It was the first time I felt truly touched by death, even more so than when my only remaining grandparent died a few years previous. Incredible, poignant quotes can be read in this Sept. 26, 1978 edition the European Stars And Stripes. When I read these things, now consigned to the back pages of history, it makes me sad. Knowing no Twins fans born in the 80's and later would ever know how good this man was, personally and professionally. I know for me, the Twins, and baseball in general died that day. I would never be as serious a fan again until well into my adulthood.

The photo Topps was set to use
for Lyman's 1979 card

 The Vikings lost horribly again last week. But I guess that episode with Lyman really taught me at a young age that there's a lot worse things than failing at sports. Like subsequently losing my great friend Scott to suicide. And again when my wonderful niece Emily died in a car accident at age 19.
Life snuffed out in the flower of youth...good people aren't replaced. There's only the effort of getting along, remembering them fondly, and trying to do your best when your heart is broken.

Lyman Bostock Part 2  video recounts the eulogy and aftermath of Lyman and his legacy. I think ESPN did a fantastic job recalling his life and who he was as a human being!

As the sublime broadcaster would sign off:
"So long, everybody!" - Herb Carneal


[Note: I used details from the incredible on-line Lyman story from which the You Tube video orignated at ESPN eticket feature by Jeff Pearlman]

Saturday, January 30, 2010

With My Daughter At TwinsFest 2010!!















video

(photos: Joe Schmit interviewing Dick Jonkowski; Harmon Killebrew jersey, 1960s; Twins 1991 World Series trophy; Emma; Adam Lambert;Jim Perry portait purchased; Twinkler with Harmon's Hall of Fame plaque)

It was fun attending the Saturday, January 30, 2010 session of TwinsFest at the HHH Metrodome in Minneapolis. TwinsFest is a three day exhibition of Minnesota Twins players, coaches, and front office personnel, both past and current. There are autograph sessions, memorabilia sales, auctions and baseball activities for kids.

My daughter Emma wanted to attend with me, and I loved having her accompany me. She has been there with me before, but that was as a toddler, basically, traveling in a stroller.

I know she wanted to see the hoopla surrounding the Twins, but truth be told, I know she was more worked up about buying the debut album of Adam Lambert afterward (yes, THAT "Adam Lambert," the "eccentric" American Idol runnerup contestant from last season, not to be confused in any way, shape or form with former all-pro linebacker of the Pittsburgh Steelers Jack Lambert). I told her now I know she's turned to the Dark Side.
She asked me who a certain African-American gentleman was, signing autographs. After I few seconds, I excitedly offered, "Well, I...hey, that's coach Jerry White!," prompting her to give me a look as if she was hangin' with one of the bretheran at a Trekkie convention.

I also scored a near perfect Jim Perry portrait from the 1970 Twins Super Value Series, seen above. I heard from the vendor I bought from that Mr. Perry was at TwinsFest signing autos, but I never saw him - I estimate it was the most crowded I've seen this event in almost 20 years of attending. Hard enough to walk through the aisles, let alone locate anybody.

If you can go tomorrow, Sunday, I highly recommend it! Good stuff, and not just for Twins fanatics like me.
video

Twinkler out.
[note: my wonderful daughter should get all due credit for videos and photography in this post, with a mere three exceptions]

Friday, January 29, 2010

Classic Twins Remembers: Tony Oliva, Camera Day, 1974

I always loved the Met Stadium Scoreboard! Big arse beer advertisments, where Reggie Jackson nearly hit the Midwest Federal Bank sign. Looks like a wonderful summer day when this shot was taken.

Twinkler Out!

Photo, Courtesyof Rick Prescott
Rick Prescott's "Met Stadium: A Patchwork Glory" website

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Possible Drawback To Thome Signing


Ask any red blooded American male, and they'll tell you that the allure of the "Baseball Annies" (heretofore used to designate camp followers, groupies, overzealous female sabrematricians...) is downright overpowering, especially those tall, cool ones in the red dresses, pining for those galoots in the 500 Home Run Club.

Such is evidenced by this intimate photo of herr Thome, once again drawn to lip lock on the warning track back of first base, caught on camera during the 7th inning stretch. As is his norm, the big fellow wandered drunkenly back to his position, a silly grin plastered on his face.

Less important is the lack of defensive prowess James T. is able to bring off the bench. As O.J. Simpson might say (another man who had run-ins with attractive blondes..) nobody's perfect. I write with lousy cursive under duress, and Sampson suddenly turned impotent with the ocassional bad haircut.

And no one ball player, save for Willie Mays, Babe Ruth, Henry Aaron, Stan Musial, etc., ever had it made! Though Thome occupies a spot on the bench Gardy would normally reserve for mediocre, light hitting infielders, his leadership, attitude and professionalism should make him an excellent fit for the Minnesota Twins.
Welcome to Minnesota, big fella!
Twinkler Out!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Jim Thome Signs With Twins For 2010!!




With the announcement today of Mr. Jim Thome's signing, Twins fans throughout the upper midwest were pinching themselves, no doubt remembering the bloody carnage the former Cleaveland Indian wrought against Twins pitchers in the past.
Rick Reed, the most prolific pitching victim of Thome's murderous rampages coyly declinedto comment on the transaction, with a sly arching of one of his eyebrows. Reports had him being contacted in connection with the new opening as Thome's personal batting practice pitcher.
Whatever transpires, he will probably be asked to stand in when the longtime Twins handshaking logo develops power failures atop the Target Field scoreboard, or just needs a reasonable facsimile to represent the Twin Cities.
Good Luck Paul, er, Jim!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

"Classic Minnesota Twins"? What's It All About?

Yes, I know there's a rather big Vikings NFC Championship game today, but...here's my first Twins blog! All shiny and buffed for your enjoyment and dining pleasure!

The Twinkler has been wondering what to delve into with this new blog site "Classic Twins." Too many subjects and so little time! Hope you like this image: pinch-hitter extroardinare Rich Reese frozen in time, from the 1969 Twins Yearbook. "GOT MILK?"

I suppose the first things I'll want to touch on in this year of our Lord 2010 is the Twins new Target Ballpark. And then, perhaps Joe Mauer, his sideburns and monotone delivery during milk commercials. And so on...

Mostly, this blog will be a disgustingly nostalgic look at Minnesota Twins past. Be it the exotic, no-hands fielding style of Willie Norwood, to the eccentric, pagan-like bat sniffing rituals of Carlos Gomez, it'll be a lighthearted look at all things Twins. With an occasional rant sometimes!

I'd love it if you left comments, clean ones. But if swearing is part of your lifestyle, try to keep it limited to phrases such as "ah shoot," or "golddang it anyhow," and things will be fine.

Speaking of poor Rich Reese - you'd think they'd have already bottled all that milk for all the patrons at the old Met Stadium, the pressure on that man! Bad enough he was the last out in Catfish Hunter's perfect game in '68 (http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/OAK/OAK196805080.shtml, and also the record breaking 383rd strikeout in Nolan Ryan's historic season of 1973! (http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CAL/CAL197309270.shtml).

Twinkler out...