A quiet man, Boyer's production spoke
for St. Louis Cardinals in 1950s and 1960s
February 1, 2007 | Matthew Leach
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.
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
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
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
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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