Monday, March 4, 2024

Lyman Bostock (guest post!)

Eight years ago today, I posted about some Lyman Bostock customs whipped up in collaboration with a reader named Nolan. I'm delighted that he's taken me up on my call for a guest post to talk about his experience collecting this fascinating ballplayer with a tragic story.

 - - -

Lyman Bostock

When I was around 12, baseball cards were my obsession. My life revolved around collecting. Didn’t matter what sets came out, I wanted everything. I was so excited when I found a very small stack of mid to late 1970s cards in a green plastic box at my grandparents house. The only card I can still picture was Lyman Bostock of the Minnesota Twins. I looked it up and saw that it was a rookie card. I figured he was probably pretty good and excitedly looked through my thick Beckett price guide looking for him in other Topps sets, but saw that there was nothing after 1978. I asked the owner of the local card shop if he ever heard of Lyman Bostock. He said something like, yeah I think he died in a car accident. I remember being disappointed, and moved on to collecting some of my favorite players, Cal Ripken, Rickey Henderson, Andy Van Slyke, and my new favorite player, Gary Sheffield. 

Something about that name stuck with me even though I eventually lost that card. 

Fast forward to 2008, I was scrolling ESPN one day, and I saw an article called Fifth and Jackson. I recognized the face with the article. It was the man I was curious about in 1992. Lyman Bostock has the unfortunate distinction of being the only Major League baseball player to be murdered during a season. 

There is so much more to Lyman than the fact that he died just as his career was taking off.  He was remembered as a great ball player, role model, activist, and mentor to children. Rod Carew said that he had a chance at multiple batting titles and possibly the Hall of Fame.

Have you ever heard of a player signing a big free agent contract, struggling for an entire month, and then offering to return his salary because he felt like he didn’t earn it?

Lyman Bostock did it. When his offer was refused, he donated his salary, nearly $40,000 to charity. 

The more I learned about him, the more I became fascinated with his story and decided to track down his cards.

Aside from his regular Topps cards and a few food issue oddballs from the 70s, there wasn’t much to collect. I eventually decided to track down authentic signatures. After collecting authenticated signed cards from 1976 and 1977, the one I wanted the most was a 1978 Topps, harder to find since that was the season he died. 

After many failed bids, offers, and hunting I finally found my white whale. Other great autographs followed, other memorabilia, but I’ve always been partial to the cards. 

The 1976 card is by far my favorite. Lyman Bostock hit .311 in his short career, and as a tribute to that, I decided to try to collect 311 copies of that card. I’ve gotten to about 200, but it’s getting difficult. There’s many over priced cards out there. If anyone out there reading this has any Lyman Bostock cards or memorabilia, I’d love to trade. You can reach out to me by email at or through the Lyman Bostock Facebook page. 

I hope that this post shines a little light on Lyman. For anyone who wants to learn more about him, there’s a great podcast called “Wesley” hosted by Fox Sports reporter Tom Rinaldi. The National Baseball Hall of Fame recently published an article about Lyman as well. 


  1. next time I'm perusing my 70's dupes boxes, I'll try and remember to pull Bostick out.

  2. It's funny how the legend grows for people who were taken too soon. I was a youngster collecting during Bostock's career. Collected '76, '77 and '78 Topps. I remember today being in my first 8th grade class of the day when I heard that Bostock was killed. It's common knowledge for people who grew up when I did. Yes, he was going to be a star. But his cards shouldn't sell for what they sell for. Crazy the price people attach to untimely death.

  3. Very sad story. I don't remember hearing about the tragedy as a kid, but I've seen a documentary on him... and seen him pop up on blogs a few times over the years.

  4. I always enjoy reading the origins behind people's player collections. That '78 auto still looks really sharp considering it's now over 45 years old.