brewers baseball and things

the 27 club


It’s just a number, but more than a bit strange that so many musicians, artists, and actors have died at the age of 27. The most well-known are probably Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix. I took a look at the list the other day and hadn’t heard of most of them, but was shocked by the number of names including the more recent additions of Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse.

So i got to thinking about baseball, about players who died at 27, in the prime of their career. I counted 18 players, the first one being Charlie Hodes, way back in 1875. I had never heard of him and scanning the list, the only player I recognized was the most recent – Lyman Bostock in 1978, shot and killed by a jealous husband.

Two things that stuck out about Bostock were that his father played in the Negro Leagues for a good chunk of time and as is often the case, there are little, if any stats on his career. That always amazes me considering the development and obsession over stats  in the other league that still exists today, the one we call the major leagues. The other thing that stuck out was that after Bostock signed with the California Angels in 1978, he struggled out of the gate and insisted on returning his April salary to the Angels. When they refused, he donated it to charity.

Bostock is part of my gravatar image. I created it one day when I was bored.  He’s to the left of the watch and baseball, at about 8 o’clock, right between I think that’s a 1972 Topps Ron Swoboda? and definitely a 1976 Topps Dock Ellis.


Author: Steve Myers

I grew up in Milwaukee and have been a Milwaukee Brewers baseball fan for as long as I can remember.

7 thoughts on “the 27 club

  1. I remember when I heard about Lyman Bostock. I was about 17 years old, and I was sleeping with nothing but the radio on. I thought it was a dream, and I woke up in the morning thinking that I had just awoken from a weird dream, a dream in which Lyman Bostock was shot to death in a car. But then a radio announcer came on again with the news, and I realized that I had been hearing the radio in my sleep, unconsciously, subliminally. It was surreal. I then called a classmate of mine, and he didn’t believe me. Then the news came on the radio at his house, and he realized that it was true.

    You mentioned Janis Joplin and Jimmie Hendrix, but you didn’t mention Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson, who also died at age 27. Just like Janis, Wilson seemed to have a beautiful soul. I was just a little kid, but I’ve since heard, on You Tube, Janis on the Dick Cavett Show, and she was SO different from other people. The same with an interview with Wilson on You Tube. He seemed so unique, like a rare gem. I don’t know anything about Hendrix; I know more about Elrod Hendricks than Jimmie Hendrix.

    Steve, here’s a song by Wilson from when he was with the band “Canned Heat.” He had quite a unique voice.


    • I just read that Wilson’s death came two weeks before that of Hendrix, and a month before that of Janis Joplin.

    • Thanks Glen. I like the Canned Heat song – A change is Gonna Come. It’s played in the Woodstock film. One of the directors or editors of that is Martin Scorces. I find it to be really well done.

  2. I was a Met fan, and the first year that I rooted became a Met fan, Swoboda was usually their right fielder. Swoboda and Gil Hodges absolutely couldn’t stand each other, and Hodges wanted to get rid of him very badly. (Hodges also wanted to get rid of Swoboda’s best buddy, Ed Kranepool, who also quarreled with Hodges, but, of course, that never happened, and Steady Eddie stayed a Met his whole career, from when he was a 17 or 18 year old right out of James Monroe High School in the Bronx until his retirement in 1979. A lot of people speculate that if Hodges had lived to manage the Mets in 1972, Kranepool would have been traded, but, of course, Hodges died of a heart attack during spring training of 1972, right after playing golf with his coaches.) Swoboda was traded to the Expos a few days before the 1971 season, in exchange for my all-time favorite Met (when I was a kid), an outfielder who couldn’t hit named Don Hahn. Swoboda didn’t last the entire year in Montreal; he was traded during the ’71 season to the Yankees. And I think that 1971 was Swoboda’s las year in the bigs, although I might be wrong.

    Anyway, I digressed. I got to thinking of all this, Steve, because you brought up that card that you thought was a Swoboda card, but I’d have to disagree with you. You might be right though, but my first instinct was that it was either Dick Billings or Jeff Boroughs of the Texas Rangers. I could be wrong, though, and you might be right; it might be Swoboda. I can’t really tell, to be honest with you.


  3. Nope, it wasn’t Swoboda, but I looked at Burroughs’ and Billings’ 1972 Topps cards, and it wasn’t them, either.

    I was wrong about Swoboda, though. I just looked it up in Baseball Reference. He actually played with the Yankees through the end of the 1973 season before being released. He was picked up by the Braves before the ’74 season, but he was released before the season started.


    • Glen, each of the players in my gravatar had something I deemed to be unique. If you begin at 12 o’clock, there’s Oscar Gamble. He’s followed by I think Mike Hargrove, then Gaylord Perry, Kent Tekulve, Dock Ellis, Bostock, and then ???? I can’t remember who I put there, but the next one is Phil Niekro. Old age and memory loss are getting to me. I had these cards mounted on poster board and then on my wall but have since taken it down. Now, I’m stumped.

  4. Obviously, the Grim Reaper took all of the aforementioned at twenty-seven because they were still years away from being arbitration-eligible.

    I’ll see myself out.

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