When discussing MLB suicides last week, I said that I couldn’t understand anyone’s suicidal thought process. Well, I don’t have any better understanding of murder. Sure, there’s a crime of passion element. And simple research points to a connection between murder and socio-economic standing. But, c’mon. I don’t get it – the thought process or lack thereof that would allow someone to take the life of another. And the truth is that when dealing with a sample of five, as we are today, all of the trends go out the window. These are just five awful anecdotes.
Playing his first professional game when he was just 16, Greg Halman was a power hitting outfield prospect who smacked 110 home runs over the four minor league seasons leading up to his first promotion to the bigs in 2010. While in Seattle, the Dutch righty struggled with -0.4 WAR over 121 plate appearances in 2010 and 2011. On November 21, 2011, he was killed by his brother Jason in the Rotterdam apartment they shared. Nine months later, Jason was released by Dutch courts because he suffered from psychosis at the time of the killing. Wright Thompson wrote a thoughtful, detailed, and chilling account of the relationship between the brothers at ESPN that I highly recommend.
Dernell Stenson was a corner outfielder for the Reds. Not a big prospect, Stenson appeared in his only 37 games during the 2003 season, hitting three homers and totaling 0.1 WAR. That November, Stenson was kidnapped, bound, shot multiple times, and run over with his own car. Four men were charged with multiple crimes. Three were convicted. Two weeks prior to his kidnapping and murder, an ex-girlfriend, Jennifer R. Gaddis, sent him a disturbing text message saying, “U better pray I never see you U again. I swear Dernell U R worth a Murder charge 4 & that is all U R worth.” However, it was determined she was not connected to the crime.
In the 1990s, Gary, Indiana was sometimes called the murder capital of the United States. On September 23, 1978, Lyman Bostock, an Angel and former Twin, after going 2-4 with a double and a walk in a losing effort against the White Sox, was murdered there. Bostock was a star at the plate, batting .311 and totaling 13.0 WAR over his first four seasons in the majors. On that day in Gary, was visiting his uncle, Ed Turner. With Turner driving and two women in the car, Bostock rode in the back seat. The estranged husband of one of the women, Leonard Smith, drove up to the car and began his jealous rage. Turner drove away. But at a traffic light, Smith pulled up and fired his shotgun into the back seat. Though he said the shot was intended for his wife, he hit Bostock. After one mistrial, Smith was found not guilty by reason of temporary insanity. He was sentenced to psychiatric care and released less than one year later. For more information, read Tim Connaughton’s SABR biography on Bostock.
By the way, though it’s a sample of only three people at this point, and only one in the United States, two of the above murderers spent no time in jail. A quick internet search reveals a 1991 study commissioned by the National Institute of Mental health that says an insanity defense is only used in about 1% of county court cases. And it’s successful in only 26% of those. Just like in baseball, don’t let a sample of three cases make you believe differently.
The Seattle Pilots played for only one season before moving to Milwaukee and becoming the Brewers in 1970. Miguel Fuentes threw their final pitch. All told, Fuentes tossed 26 innings over eight games, four of them starts. He won once and finished the year and his career with 0.0 WAR. After the MLB season, he went home to pitch in the Puerto Rican Winter League. After that season ended, Fuentes was in a bar in his hometown of Loiza Aldea. Apparently there was a plumbing problem in the bathroom, so Fuentes went outside to relieve himself. As the story is told, he did so too close to someone’s car. Fuentes was shot and killed. I do not know the identity of his murderer. I am not sure if it is known.
Two pitchers in MLB history have been named Ed Morris. The one who was murdered is not the one who I sometimes call the best pitcher ever with that surname. This pitcher was a righty. After a cup of coffee with the 1922 Cubs, Morris pitched for the 1928-1931 Red Sox, totaling 42 wins and 7.4 WAR. Before spring training in 1932, a group of Morris’ friends threw a fish fry in his honor. An argument between Morris and fellow guest Joe White broke out. During the scuffle, White pulled a knife and stabbed Morris in the chest.