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Clete Boyer

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Cletis Leroy Boyer

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Clete Boyer was an excellent defensive third baseman with a 16-year major league career. He appeared in five World Series in a row, from 1960 to 1964, with the New York Yankees. In the first game of the 1962 World Series he batted eighth in the lineup and hit a home run to help Whitey Ford get the win. In the 1964 World Series, both he and his brother Ken hit home runs in the seventh game, which the St. Louis Cardinals won.

Clete was a rookie on the 1955 Kansas City Athletics, a team on which 39-year-old Enos Slaughter hit .322. Clete was first signed as a bonus baby by the Kansas City Athletics, then was traded to the Yankees right after completing his requirement for spending time on a major league roster as a result of the bonus rule in effect at the time. Other teams howled at the deal, claiming the Yankees had used Kansas City as a farm team to avoid having to keep Boyer on their roster before he was ready to contribute.

Clete played for eight years with the Yankees, alongside players such as Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Whitey Ford, and Yogi Berra, who was to become his manager in 1964.

He ended his career playing five years for the Atlanta Braves, alongside Hank Aaron and Tommie Aaron. In 1967, Clete's 26 home runs and 96 RBI were second on the team behind Hank. He appeared in the 1969 Championship Series against the New York Mets. He won his only Gold Glove for fielding after switching to the National League, since he was always overshadowed by Brooks Robinson for the award during his years in the American League.

He is the brother of Cloyd Boyer and Ken Boyer. Four other siblings, brothers Wayne Boyer, Lynn Boyer, Len Boyer and Ron Boyer played minor league ball as did Clete's son, Mickey Boyer, and Ken's son, Dave Boyer. Clete was the second-best of the set, having a similar skill set as Ken, but was not as good a contact hitter or slugger. However, Clete's major league career lasted longer - both Clete and Ken broke in during the 1955 season, but Ken was done in 1969 while Clete lasted to 1971.

Following a stormy relationship with Braves' management and eventually being released, Boyer played in Japan for the Taiyo Whales from 1972 to 1975. He showed the same abilities as in the US - great defense (two Gold Gloves), some power (14 to 20 homers each year) and a mediocre average and OBP (.257/.300). When the 38-year-old infielder asked for a day off every three games in his last year, the owner expressed anger. As Boyer was being paid $800,000 a year, he felt fans would react poorly to this move. Instead, the owner and trainer had Boyer increase his workouts and provided him with so many vitamin injections that his arms were black and blue. Boyer went along with their regimen and retired after the season. He was one of the more popular foreign players in Japan due to his willingness to follow Japanese training approaches and culture.

After his playing days, Boyer was an Oakland Athletics coach from 1980 to 1985 and a member of the New York Yankees staff in 1988 and again from 1992 to 1994. In 1989, he became manager of the Bradenton Explorers of the Senior Professional Baseball Association; the team moved to become the Daytona Beach Explorers in 1990 and he managed the team until the league ceased operations in December.

Sources include You Gotta Have Wa by Robert Whiting

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