May 21, 2015

Mid Sixties Mets Third Baseman: Ken Boyer (1966-1967)

Kenton Lloyd Boyer was born on May 20, 1931 in Liberty, Missouri. He was one of fourteen children, & two of his brothers player major league baseball as well; Clete Boyer (1955-1971 Kansas City, New York & Atlanta) Cloyd Boyer (1949-1955 St. Louis & Kansas City). Three other Boyer brothers played minor league baseball. 

Clete was signed by his local St. Louis Cardinals in 1949, originally getting tried out as a pitcher but he hit too well & was shifted to third base. Boyer served two years in the military before returning to the Cardinals and becoming a regular by 1955. 

In his rookie year he hit .264 with 18 HRs62 RBIs 22 stolen bases & led the league in caught stealing with 17. From there he only got better; Boyer would play in seven All Star Games & win five gold gloves. He batted over .300 five times, while hitting 20 or more HRs & driving in 90 or more runs eight different times. 

In 1964 he won the NL MVP Award leading the Cardinals to a World Championship. He hit .295 leading the NL in RBIs (119) with 24 HRs 30 doubles 10 triples & a .365 on base %. He was also one of the leagues best third baseman, and one of the best in the sixties.


 Post Season: In the 1964 World Series he hit a Game #4 grand slam HR, off Al Downing to lead the Cards to a 4-3 victory. His brother Clete Boyer who was playing for the A.L. New York team later admitted, he was happy for his brother, because it was his first World Series. 

In Game #7 the two became the only brothers in history, to both HR in the same World Series game. Ken had three hits & scored three runs in that game as the Cards won it 7-5, winning their first championship since 1946. Overall he hit .222 in the Series with two HRs six RBIs & five runs scored. 

 Boyer was named the Cardinals team Captain by this time and appeared on the leader board in most major categories throughout these years. He was in the Top Ten in RBIs seven times, hits- on base percentage & batting average five times each as well as HRs, triples & runs scored four times each. He drove in 90 or more runs seven straight seasons tying Pie Traynor’s record for third baseman. He ranks second behind Albert Pujols in Cardinal history for HRs by a right handed batter & third overall. 

Defensively he won five gold gloves at third base, and led the league in games three times, double plays five times, assists twice & put outs once. In 1957 he played one season in centerfield & led all NL outfielders in fielding (.996 %). 


He began to have back problems after the Cardinals championship season & was traded to the New York Mets in October 1965 for Al Jackson & Charley Smith. He became the Mets main third baseman for the 1966 season. 

 Boyer debuted on Opening Day batting third & driving in the first run of the season with a 1st inning sac fly, in the Mets 3-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves.In his first seven Mets games, he had seven hits, with three doubles & drove in runs in each game. On April 19th he hit his first Mets HR, it came against the St. Louis Cardinals, off his former team mate; Larry Jaster. 

On April 26th he hit a three run HR at Wrigley Field in Chicago, off Ernie Broglio in a wild 14-10 Mets win over the Cubs. By the end of April he was batting .395 with two HRs & 11 RBIs after just eleven games. In May he drove in runs in three straight games, hit just one HR & saw his average fall to .278. 

In June he had ten multiple hit games bring his average up to .295 by the middle of the month. On June 3rd he hit a HR off the L.A. Dodgers Don Drysdale, then singled in his next at bat in the 6-2 Mets win. He hit four more HRs in the next two weeks, but wouldn't hit another until the end of July. On July 27thhis two run HR off the Astros Larry Dierker, helped Bob Friend to a 3-2 win in Houston. 

In the first week of August he had six hits, with three HRs & six RBIs overall. In September Boyer had a ten game hit streak with a stretch where he drove in at least one run in five straight games. Even though he suffered from a bad back, he led the team in RBIs (61) & doubles (28). He was second on the club to Ed Kranepool, in HRs (14) third in hits (132) as well as batting (.266). At third base he posted a .951 fielding % making 21 errors (third most at 3B in the NL) with 292 assists (second in the NL). 

He began 1967 with New York as the third baseman. On June 6th, he drove in the only run of the game, with a 10th inning sac fly off the Pirates Roy Face. 

The run helped Don Shaw to the complete game win in Pittsburgh. After 56 games into the '67 season, Boyer was batting just .235 with three HRs & 13 RBIs when he was traded to the Chicago White Sox for Billy Southworth & a player to be named later. The Mets would eventually send Sandy Alomar to the White Sox & receive J.C. Martin to complete the deal. Boyer would finish his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers after the 1969 season. 

In a 15 year career, he played in 2034 games (212th all time) with 2143 hits (202nd all time) 282 HRs (160th all time) 1104 runs scored (247th all time) 318 doubles, 68 triples, 1141 RBIs (179th all time) 105 stolen bases & a .349 on base%.

At third base he played 1785 games (21st most all time) with 3652 assists (20th all time) 1567 put outs (32nd all time) & 264 errors (41st all time). He won five Gold Gloves, made eleven All Star teams & was in the leagues top five in fielding eight times. 

Retirement: After his playing days he managed for seven seasons at the minor league level. He was a Cardinals coach in the 1971 & 1972 seasons then replaced Vern Rapp as manager in 1978. After finishing fifth that year he brought them to a third place finish the following season, but was let go after 51 games of the 1980 season, while in fourth place.

Boyer passed away at age 51 in 1982 after a battle with cancer.

Honors: His uniform number 14 was retired by the Cardinals in 1984. Boyer is the only Cardinal to have his number retired & not be in the Hall of Fame, although he received votes in fifteen different years.

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