Ken Boyer

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Kenton Lloyd Boyer

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Biographical Information[edit]

"Ken Boyer might have been the best third baseman I’d seen or played with." - Bill White

"At third base, I saw the best ballplayer on first impression that I have seen in many a day, Boyer by name." - Branch Rickey, scouting the young Ken Boyer [1]

Ken Boyer, the 1964 National League MVP, played 15 seasons in the big leagues as a third baseman. He won five Gold Gloves and was the top third baseman in the league, and possibly all of baseball, in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He was named to seven All-Star teams, in 1956 and from 1959 to 1964, while hitting over 20 home runs eight times and batting over .300 five times. On his retirement, he was one of only two third basemen with 250 career home runs (along with contemporary Eddie Mathews) and his .462 slugging percentage was the top mark for a third baseman in history.

His Gray Ink total of 138 is close to an average Hall of Famer at 144. In Hall of Fame voting by the BBWAA, Ken got as high as 25% in 1988, one vote higher than Ron Santo had that year. In the 2005 Veterans Committee voting, Boyer received 19%, and was 11th in the voting, behind Roger Maris and Marty Marion. He is, however, an inaugural member of the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame (Class of 2014) and had his number 14 retired posthumously in 1984.

Only one of his ten most similar players, according to similarity scores, is in the Hall of Fame: the aforementioned Ron Santo, who was voted posthumously in by the Veterans Committee. The most similar player, according to the methodology, is Bobby Bonilla. However, Bobby Bo played at a time when averages were higher, and he never won either an MVP award nor a Gold Glove. Other players on the list include Robin Ventura, Ron Cey and Reggie Smith. Boyer is unfairly hurt by the similarity scores method because he played during the second dead-ball era when averages were lower - as a result, the most similar player probably should be Santo, who also played during the same era. Santo broke in in 1960, while Boyer started in 1955. Their careers also ended five years apart, as Santo finished in 1974 while Boyer finished in 1969. Boyer won his Gold Gloves in 1958-1961 and 1963, while Santo won his in 1964-1968. Interestingly, while Ron Santo is only 10th on the list of most similar players to Boyer, Boyer is #4 on the list of most similar players to Santo.

Boyer held the record for most home runs in four straight seasons of the same number (24, 1961-1964). Adam Dunn eventually shattered the record, hitting 40 each year from 2005 to 2008.

Ken was the brother of major leaguers Clete and Cloyd, minor leaguers Wayne, Lynn, Len and Ron, the father of Dave and the uncle of Mickey Boyer. Ken spent two seasons as a St. Louis Cardinals coach in 1971 and 1972 and two and a half as their manager, from 1978 to 1980, finishing as high as third in 1979. His players included Ted Simmons, Keith Hernandez, and former teammate Lou Brock.

While in the minors, Boyer missed the 1952 and 1953 seasons due to military service at the time of the Korean War. Ken died at 51 from cancer.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 7-time NL All-Star (1956 & 1959-1964)
  • NL MVP (1964)
  • 5-time NL Gold Glove Winner (1958-1961 & 1963)
  • NL RBI Leader (1964)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 8 (1956 & 1958-1964)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 1 (1960)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 2 (1963 & 1964)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 3 (1958, 1961 & 1964)
  • Won a World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1964

1963 1964 1965
Sandy Koufax Ken Boyer Willie Mays

Preceded by
Vern Rapp
St. Louis Cardinals Manager
Succeeded by
Whitey Herzog

Year-By-Year Managerial Record[edit]

Year Team League Record Finish Organization Playoffs Notes
1970 Arkansas Travelers Texas League 67-67 4th St. Louis Cardinals
1973 GCL Cardinals Gulf Coast League 25-30 7th St. Louis Cardinals
1974 Tulsa Oilers American Association 76-58 2nd St. Louis Cardinals League Champs
1975 Tulsa Oilers American Association 73-63 3rd St. Louis Cardinals
1976 Tulsa Oilers American Association 65-70 5th St. Louis Cardinals
1977 Rochester Red Wings International League 67-73 6th Baltimore Orioles
1978 Rochester Red Wings International League 5-6 -- Baltimore Orioles replaced by Al Widmar (5-2) on April 29
St. Louis Cardinals National League 62-81 5th St. Louis Cardinals replaced Vern Rapp (6-11) and Jack Krol (1-1) on April 29
1979 St. Louis Cardinals National League 86-76 3rd St. Louis Cardinals
1980 St. Louis Cardinals National League 18-33 -- St. Louis Cardinals replaced by Jack Krol on June 8

Further Reading[edit]

Related Sites[edit]