Angels Make Bostock Top Salaried Player

Bostock Top Salaried
Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times

Ex-Twin Signs for Five Years, $3 Million Plus 

BY DON MERRY, Times Staff Writer

Times Staff Writer 

Outfielder Lyman Bostock, who turns 27 today, signed a five-year contract with the Angels Monday for an estimated $3 million plus-one of the most lucrative deals ever for an athlete. 

Obviously, Angel owner Gene Autry still has some bullion in his saddlebags after investing more than $7 million last summer to purchase free agents Joe Rudi, Bobby Grich and Don Baylor (for $5.2 million) and pitchers Dave LaRoche, Ken Brett and Gary Nolan. 

The signing of Bostock culminated an incredible financial turnabout for the former Minnesota Twin, who played out his option last season and hit 336, second in the American League to teammate Rod Carew’s .388. 

Slapped with the maximum 20% pay cut invoked by club owner Calvin Griffith when he refused to sign, Bostock worked last summer for $20,000. 

Lyman Bostock signs RICHEST contract in Baseball History with Angles owner Gene Autry
Lyman Bostock signs RICHEST contract in Baseball History with Angles owner Gene Autry

This summer, he will play for at least $600,000. 

Although no official figure was divulged, both Bostock and his agent, Abdul Jalil, indicated it was in excess of $3 million and that based strictly on annual income Bostock is now the highest-salaried player in the game. 

Asked if he was the highest paid, Bostock smiled and said, “As far as I know.” 

Jalil, asked if Bostock is a $3 million player, replied, “Yes. In fact, you might be a little short.” 

He indicated Bostock could have had more. 

“We could have named our own price either with the New York Yankees or the San Diego Padres,” Jalil said. “If I had been Lyman Bostock, I would be wearing pinstripes now. 

“What we gave up by not signing with the Yankees, most players would willingly sign for.” 

Jalil said the Angel deal was at least $250,000 less than the Yankee offer-there were considerations other than money. 

A big factor is that Bostock is from the Los Angeles area- he attended Manual Arts High School, where he was practically ignored as a prospect-and his mother lives here. 

In New York, a spokesman for the Yankees denied Jalil’s claim they offered Bostock more money than the Angels. 

Bostock Top Salaried
Bostock Top Salaried

“That’s an out-and-out lie,” the spokesman said. “Our offer is nowhere near the figure the Angels offered Bostock.” He said the Yankee offer to Bostock was less than what the club had dangled in front of Richie Zisk, who signed with Texas, and Larry Hisle, who signed with Milwaukee. 

Bostock Top Salaried cont- Bostock Turns Down Yanks
Bostock Top Salaried cont- Bostock Turns Down Yanks

Zisk signed for $2.7 million while Hisle got nearly $3 million for six years. 

Bostock’s original asking price was $2.7 million. 

Although he said he enjoyed living in Minnesota, Bostock had no compunction about leaving. 

“He (owner Calvin Griffith) felt he only needed me when the pressure was on him to sign me,” Bostock said. “I hope he misses me more than I’m going to miss him.” 

Bostock, a natural center fielder, produced career highs in all offensive categories last year. Besides his .336 average, he collected 199 hits, 36 doubles, 12 triples, 14 homers and 90 RBI. 

The addition of Bostock, a left handed hitter, gives the Angels a formidable— and expensive—outfield. He joins Rudi, who signed a reputed $2 million long-term contract last year, and Bobby Bonds, Bonds’ two- year contract expired at the end of the 1977 season and he will be looking for a hefty, multiyear package. 

Bostock also was courted by the Toronto Blue Jays, who made him the No. 1 pick in the free-agent re-entry draft, and the Milwaukee Brewers. 

The Brewers offered the companionship of Bostock’s former teammate at Minnesota, Larry Hisle, but could not compete financially. Bostock said he was “afraid” of San Diego owner Ray Kroc and thus the Padres were easy to dismiss. He said he was also leery of the “dog-eat-dog lifestyle” of New York and assumed he wouldn’t particularly enjoy playing in the April snow of Toronto. 

Bostock decided to join the Angels Friday, and Monday faced repeated questions about his sudden wealth. 

“Nobody bothers to look at singers or dancers or actors,” he said. “Look at Elton John. He made $7 million last year.” 

Autry, who was not dissuaded from again plunging into the free-agent market despite last season’s relatively unspectacular results when injuries shelved both Grich and Rudi before midseason and Baylor began slowly, said he had talked to Minnesota manager Gene Mauch about Bostock’s capabilities. 

“He told me that Lyman Bostock was definitely the second-best hitter (behind Carew) that he had seen in the American League—or even in the National League,” Autry said. “He said he wouldn’t doubt that one day he would lead the league in hitting.” 

Angels general manager Buzzie Bavasi complimented his newest player when he said: “Considering was the guy that wouldn’t pay (Don) Drysdale or (Sandy) Koufax $100,000, you can tell what I think of Lyman Bostock.” 

“Money is something I’ve never had in abundance,” Bostock said. “I’m not going to let it go to my head.” 

* **

The Angels are apparently resigned to Gene Mauch remaining as manager of the Minnesota Twins. 

“As far as I’m concerned the issue is closed,” Bavasi said Monday. “We’re not going to give a ball club away to get a manager.”