AP baseball writer Ben Walker recaps Boyer’s playing career for Yahoo sports
Boyer played from 1955-71 with the Yankees, Kansas City Athletics and Atlanta. He helped the Yankees reach the World Series in five straight years from 1960-64, when they won two titles.
Boyer’s death came on the 50th anniversary of the day he joined the Yankees, completing a dozen-player trade between New York and the A’s.
“He was a great Yankee and a tough guy. He never talked too much but he was extremely hardworking. A wonderful third baseman, and had fire in his belly,” Yankees owner George Steinbrenner said through a spokesman.
The St. Louis Cardinals won the Series and Ken was the NL MVP that season. An All-Star third baseman, he died in 1982 at age 51.
Another brother, Cloyd, pitched in the majors from 1949-55. There were 14 children in the Boyer family.
Cletis Leroy Boyer was a career .242 hitter with 162 home runs and 654 RBIs. Decent stats, but it was fielding that became his signature.
Boyer added an air of flamboyance to a Yankees team that otherwise played with a conservative precision.
“In all my years of playing with him, he only made one bad throw to me,” former Yankees second baseman Bobby Richardson said by telephone from his home in South Carolina.
“When I made the double play, I could just about close my eyes, put my glove up and the ball would be there,” he said. “I would consider him one of the best players defensively. And when we got in the World Series and the lights came up, he made those great, great plays.”
“Plus, he was a little goofy,” he said. “Certainly, it helps you play the game.”
After finishing with Atlanta, Boyer played in Japan. He later coached under Billy Martin with Oakland and the Yankees.
Richardson said he was with Boyer last month in New York for a reunion of the 1961 Yankees infield. “We had three or four, we looked forward to them,” Richardson said.
“He always said, ‘I wish you could have played on the team that we had in the ’60s. We’d have won 150 games,”‘ Yankees pitching coach Ron Guidry said.
“You’d talk to Moose and he would always tell you how good a third baseman he was,” he said. “You talked to Whitey Ford and he’d tell you, ‘I didn’t have to worry about ground balls. I could pitch inside, throw breaking balls. If they hit it down the third-base line, he was going to catch it.”‘
Richardson praised Boyer’s other attributes.
“I would give him a lot of credit for being a good No. 8 hitter. It wasn’t easy in those days, with the pitcher hitting being you,” Richardson said. “He was a team player and a great teacher.
Former Yankee 3rd baseman, Clete Boyer passes away at age 70.