Thursday, May 28, 2009

#100 Ken Boyer

#100 Ken Boyer
What does an NL MVP award and two big home runs in the World Series get you? If you're Ken Boyer, it gets you choice hero numbering. Do you think Ken was aware of this? Did he strut around the clubhouse in 1965, thumbing his nose at #320 Bob Gibson and #190 Bill White? "Look out boys, #100 comin' through!"

Fun facts about Ken Boyer:

-Was something of a hometown boy. Born in Liberty, MO, in 1931 and signed with the Cardinals in 1949. He was signed as a pitcher, but proved so adept with the bat that he was soon shifted to third base.

-Came from a baseball family. Big brother Cloyd pitched for the Cards and Athletics (1949-1952; 1955) and little brother Clete was a third baseman for the A's, Yankees, and Braves (1955-1957; 1959-1971). Two other brothers, Ron and Len, played minor league ball.

-After two years of military service (1952-1953), Ken finally got the call to St. Louis in 1955. He showed good power (18 HR, 27 2B) with some speed (22 SB...and 17 CS!), but the best would come later.

-Earned the first of seven All-Star selections as a sophomore, hitting .306 with 26 HR and 98 RBI. His other six All-Star nods came consecutively, from 1959-1964.

-Won his first Gold Glove in 1958, and added four more before Ron Santo started snatching them up in the mid-1960's.

-Set a record by hitting exactly 24 home runs in each of four straight seasons (1961-1964). Adam Dunn would later crank out exactly 40 in each year from 2005-2008.

-Won his aforementioned MVP award with a .295 average, 30 2B, 10 3B, 24 HR, and career-high 119 RBI for the World Champion Redbirds in 1964. It was the third time that he had reached double figures in doubles, triples, and homers in a season. He may actually have been better in 1960 (.304, 32 HR) and 1961 (career-best .329 AVG).

-In the 1964 World Series, he hit a sixth-inning grand slam to win Game Four and homered again in the seventh inning of Game Seven to provide the final St. Louis run in a 7-5 Series clincher. Clete Boyer also went deep in Game Seven, marking the only time in major league history that two brothers each hit a home run in the same World Series game.

-Ken was plagued by back problems late in his career, and spent time with the Mets, White Sox, and Dodgers before retiring in 1969. In fifteen seasons, he hit .287 with 282 HR and 1,141 RBI. He was the second third baseman to ever hit 250 home runs (Eddie Mathews being the first).

-He managed in the minor leagues for seven years and coached for the Cardinals (1971-1972). He got the opportunity to manage St. Louis from 1978-1980, compiling a 166-190 record.

-Ken died of lung cancer in 1982, at the age of 51. Two years later, the Cards retired his #14. He's the only Cardinal player to receive this honor who is not enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame, though a very good argument can be made for both him and his contemporary Ron Santo.
#100 Ken Boyer (back)

1 comment:

  1. I always wondered if players bragged about their numbers in the topps set. nice to know this isn't a unique disease.