In recently recorded history, over something like a century and encompassing thousands of players, only three active major leaguers have been murdered.
Monday, Mariners outfielder Greg Halman became the third.
The second was Angels outfielder Lyman Bostock, murdered by a stranger near the end of the 1978 season. Essentially, Boston made the mistake of happening to sit in the back seat of a car next to a woman — a woman he’d met just minutes earlier — whose estranged husband was out of his mind with jealousy. The husband pulled up next to the car and discharged a shotgun, supposedly with the intention of killing his wife but Bostock took the blast in his head and died two hours later.
The assailant’s counsel argued temporary insanity and won, and so he spent only 21 months in jail. As Bill James wrote, “The murderer, Leonard Smith, received a light sentence because, as I understand it, he was able to prove that he didn’t ordinarily kill people, but just happened to be in a particularly bad mood that day.” Smith died in 2010, having not run seriously afoul of the law in the previous three decades.
The first was Miguel Fuentes, who is the answer to another trivia question: Who was the last man to pitch for the Seattle Pilots?
Fuentes debuted with the Pilots on the 1st of September in 1969; Jim Bouton had just been traded to Houston, so Fuentes was not memorialized in Ball Four. In his third appearance and first start, Fuentes pitched a complete game and beat the White Sox, 5-1. His succeeding outings didn’t go as well, but he did finish the season — the Pilots’ first and last season, as it turned out — with one scoreless frame against the A’s in Seattle.
After the season, Fuentes returned to his native Puerto Rico. He played winter ball there. Shortly after that season ended and shortly before he would have returned to the States for spring training, Fuentes got involved in a bar fight, was shot three times, and died.