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A quiet man, Boyer's production spoke for itself

Missouri-native starred for St. Louis Cardinals in 1950s and 1960s 

February 1, 2007 | Matthew Leach

COOPERSTOWN, NY:   Ken Boyer, up for election by the Veterans Committee to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, was one of the elite third basemen the game has known, yet his name is rarely mentioned with baseball's immortals. A seven-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glover, Boyer was a complete player who contributed in all facets of the game.

Ken Boyer

Known for his ability to range to his left, Ken Boyer won five Gold Glove Awards at third base. (National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)

However, there has been no groundswell for Boyer's induction. Boyer remains something of a secret, despite an illustrious career that included a World Series ring.

A Missouri native, Boyer was born in 1931 and debuted as a teammate of Stan Musial and Red Schoendienst in 1955. He bridged two eras of St. Louis baseball, as by the time he was dealt to the Mets in 1965, his teammates included Lou Brock, Bob Gibson and Steve Carlton.

Boyer spent the bulk of his career playing for St. Louis. Eight times in a Cardinals uniform, he hit at least 20 home runs and drove in at least 90 runs, all while playing superb defense. He ran the bases with some aplomb, and he hit for average and drew walks to go along with legitimate power.

The shame of Boyer's career is that it faded so quickly -- unfortunately, just like his health. In 1964, at age 33, he played all 162 games, won the National League MVP and starred for St. Louis in the World Series. The next year, he struggled to the lowest numbers of his career, and a year later he was a Met. By 1967 Boyer was a part-time player, injuries sapping his strength and skill.

Boyer's career came to a close following the 1969 season, and he retired with one of the finest resumes of any third sacker ever to have played the game. Upon his retirement, Boyer ranked third all-time in slugging percentage among third basemen, and second in assists and double plays.

He hung it up with a career line of .287/.349/.462 (average/on-base/slugging), 282 home runs, 1141 RBIs, 1104 runs scored and 105 stolen bases. Boyer moved on to managing, helming the Cardinals for parts of three seasons (1978-80) before he was replaced by Whitey Herzog.

Sadly, Boyer died shortly after his managerial stint in St. Louis. He contracted lung cancer and passed away in St. Louis on Sept. 7, 1982, just weeks before the franchise's first world title since his playing days. The Cardinals retired Boyer's No. 14 in 1984.

In the 2005 Veterans Committee election, Boyer received 15 votes, or 18.8 percent support among the 80 voters. That was an improvement over his 2003 showing, when 11 of 81 voters (13.6 percent) supported Boyer. A candidate must get 75% of the vote to gain election.

In 15 years on the Baseball Writers' ballot, Boyer's highest percentage was 25.5% in 1988. Results of the 2007 Veterans Committee election will be announced on February 27, and the Induction Ceremony will take place on July 29 in Cooperstown.

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