Ken Boyer, the all-time best Cardinals third baseman, is deserving of a book that accurately and completely tells his story. Fortunately, “Ken Boyer: All-Star, MVP, Captain” by author Kevin D. McCann delivers.
Produced by BrayBree Publishing and available for order online at http://www.kenboyerbook.com, this Boyer biography is a must-read for a Cardinals fan as well as for anyone who appreciates baseball, clean writing and superb research.
McCann covers every aspect of Boyer’s life and career in a compelling and richly detailed narrative. Though McCann clearly admires Boyer, this book isn’t a sugarcoated story. McCann takes readers behind the scenes of the 1950s and 1960s Cardinals in an honest and fact-based style.
Also, the book is filled with rare photos of Boyer and his teammates. The photos alone are worth buying the book.
I have a bookcase filled with Cardinals books. “Ken Boyer: All-Star, MVP, Captain” has a place on the top shelf with the best of my collection.
Here are some of the insights the book provides:
_ After the 1954 season, Cardinals general manager Dick Meyer wanted to acquire Yankees catching prospect Elston Howard, a St. Louis native. Meyer offered the Yankees their choice of one of several minor-league shortstops in the Cardinals’ system. The trade talks ended when the Yankees asked for Boyer, a third baseman with the Cardinals’ Texas League affiliate at Houston.
_ Boyer played winter baseball in Cuba after the 1954 season. Pirates executive Branch Rickey, formerly of the Cardinals, scouted Boyer in Havana and filed a glowing report.
“At third base, I saw the best ballplayer on first impression that I have seen in many a day,” Rickey wrote. “Boyer by name. He can run with very deceptive speed … Never loafs. He has big hands and knows what to do with them.”
_ Cardinals manager Fred Hutchinson didn’t care for what he perceived as Boyer’s laid-back disposition. “Boyer has everything he needs to be a great player except one thing,” said Hutchinson. “He has to develop more drive, more aggressiveness. He doesn’t push enough.”
_ After the 1957 season, Cardinals general manager Frank Lane wanted to trade Boyer to the Pirates for outfielder Frank Thomas and third baseman Gene Freese. Cardinals owner Gussie Busch vetoed the deal. Miffed, Lane resigned and became general manager of the Indians.
_ Bing Devine, Lane’s replacement, was tempted by a Phillies trade offer of outfielder Richie Ashburn and pitcher Harvey Haddix for Boyer, but rejected the proposal. Said Boyer: “I told my wife that if I’d have been the Cardinals, I’d have made that trade.”
_ Tim McCarver, longtime St. Louis catcher, told the author that on the Cardinals “(Stan) Musial was the star, but Kenny was the leader. No doubt about it.”
_ The working relationship between Boyer and Musial was one of mutual respect. “Stan had probably as much influence on my career as anyone,” Boyer said.
_ The grand slam Boyer hit to win Game 4 of the 1964 World Series came on a changeup from Al Downing after the pitcher had shook off catcher Elston Howard’s call for a fastball. “He got the ball up in my eyes and that’s where any hitter likes to swing,” Boyer said.
_ After his playing career ended, Boyer was offered a chance to manage in the Dodgers’ minor-league system. He instead accepted an offer from Devine to manage the Cardinals’ Class AA club at Arkansas in 1970 because he preferred to return to the Cardinals’ organization.
_ The Cardinals fired manager Red Schoendienst after the 1976 season. Boyer was one of three finalists for the job. The others: Vern Rapp and Joe Altobelli. The Cardinals chose Rapp, in part, because they thought Boyer was too much like Schoendienst. Rejected, Boyer became a manager in the Orioles’ farm system.
_ After the 1977 season, Boyer was runner-up for big-league manager jobs that went to Bobby Cox with the Braves and George Bamberger with the Brewers.
_ The Cardinals fired Rapp in April 1978 and replaced him with Boyer. “It was difficult to imagine the same people who had made the decision a year ago changing their minds and giving me another opportunity,” Boyer said.
Previously: 1964 effort supports Ken Boyer Hall of Fame case