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Clete Boyer

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Full Name: Cletis Leroy Boyer Primary Position: 3B,SS
Height/Weight: 6' 0"/165 First Game: June 5, 1955
Birthdate: February 9, 1937 Final Game: May 23, 1971
Birthplace: Cassville, Missouri MLB Experience: 16 years
Died: June 4, 2007
Deathplace: Atlanta, Georgia
Bat/Throw: Right/Right


==Biography==Cletis Leroy “Clete” Boyer (born February 9, 1937 in Cassville, Missouri) is a former Major League Baseball player.

A third baseman who also played shortstop and second base occasionally, Boyer played for the Kansas City Athletics (1955–57), New York Yankees (1959–66) and Atlanta Braves (1967–71).

Boyer was one of 14 children. He and his four brothers all played professional baseball, with Ken, also a third baseman, and Cloyd, a pitcher, also making the majors.

In his 16-year career, Boyer hit 162 home runs with 654 runs batted in and a .242 batting average in 1725 games played.

Early career

Boyer broke into the major leagues in 1955 as a utility infielder at age 18. With no minor league experience, he played a total of 124 games for the Kansas City Athletics until he was traded to the Yankees in February 1957 in a thirteen-player deal, seven players going to Kansas City and six (including pitcher Bobby Shantz) to the Yankees. He spent three seasons in the Yankee farm system until he was called up late in 1959.

The Yankee Years

Boyer became the Yankees’ regular third baseman in 1960, beating out three others (including Gil McDougald, who in spring training had announced that this, his 10th season in the majors, would be his last) for the starting job. He batted .242 with 14 home runs and 46 RBIs as the Yankees won the pennant. However, he had a humbling moment in the first game of the World Series against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Early in the game, with two runners on base and the Yankees trailing 3-1, manager Casey Stengel, never confident in Boyer's hitting, replaced him with a pinch-hitter, Dale Long, who flew out to right fielder Roberto Clemente. The Yankees didn’t score in the inning and lost 6-4, ultimately losing the Series in Game 7 on Bill Mazeroski’s home run off Ralph Terry in the bottom of the ninth. Boyer himself didn't play in the Series again until Game Six.

After the Series, the Yankees fired Stengel. Ralph Houk replaced him as manager and restored some of the confidence in Boyer that Stengel had taken away. Whereas Stengel preferred other players at third base over Boyer, Houk saw something special in Boyer's defensive prowess and gave him the opportunity to play every day.

The 1961 team (with Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Elston Howard, Yogi Berra and Moose Skowron), which defeated the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series, was considered by many as the best ever, with Mantle and Maris chasing Babe Ruth’s record of 60 home runs in 1927 (Maris eventually broke the record on the final day) and Whitey Ford winning 25 games and losing only four. What Boyer himself didn’t do with the bat (he hit only .224 during the regular season), he more than made up for with the glove in an infield that also featured the double play duo of shortstop Tony Kubek and second baseman Bobby Richardson.

Boyer enjoyed liquor and good times off the field, but was serious and spectacular on it. He rivaled Brooks Robinson defensively, leading American League third basemen (finishing ahead of even Robinson) in putouts, assists and double plays in all three of Houk’s seasons as manager (1961–1963)—yet Robinson, not Boyer, won the Gold Glove Award each year.

Boyer’s offensive numbers improved in 1962: career bests in batting average .272, home runs (18) and runs batted in (68). He also came within nine assists of the third base record of 405 set by Harlond Clift of the 1937 St. Louis Browns. Once again, the Yankees won the World Series, this time in seven games over the San Francisco Giants. The Series ended with Richardson catching Willie McCovey’s line drive with runners on second and third; just a few feet to either side and Richardson could not have gotten his hands on it and the Giants would have scored two runs and won the Series. In 1963 Boyer batted .251 with 12 home runs and 54 RBIs as the Yankees won another pennant; however, they were swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers—the first time the Yankees had ever been swept in a World Series. Dodger ace Sandy Koufax won the first and fourth games, striking out a series record 15 batters in the opener. Boyer was the only Yankee regular not to strike out against Koufax.

After the 1963 season Houk was promoted to general manager and Berra replaced him as field manager. Early on, the 1964 team slumped under Berra, especially Boyer who batted .218 on the season. As Berra’s managing improved, the team improved with it and won its fifth straight pennant by one game over the Chicago White Sox and two over the third-place Baltimore Orioles. The Yankees faced the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series with Clete playing against his brother Ken. The Yankees lost in seven games, but not before Ken and Clete became the first brothers to hit home runs in a World Series game. In the 7th inning of that seventh game, Ken homered off Yankee pitcher Steve Hamilton and exchanged nods with Clete. Clete returned the favor in the 9th after homering off Cardinal ace Bob Gibson.

After the 1964 Series, Houk unceremoniously fired Berra (in mid-season the management, dissatisfied with Berra's work, made up their mind to fire him at the end of the season no matter what the Yankees did) and replaced him with Johnny Keane, who had managed the Cardinals to the World Series victory over the Yankees. The Yankees hardly responded to Keane from his first day on the job in 1965; Boyer in particular entered everyone’s doghouse by getting drunk during spring training and punching out a man in a bar in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. During the season, he did bat .251 with a career-tying 18 home runs, but the Yankees slumped to sixth place—their lowest finish in 40 years. In 1966 the Yankees fired Keane two weeks into the season, and Houk returned as manager. His second stint, however, was far less successful—the Yankees finished dead last. After a season in which he hit .240 with 14 home runs, Lee McPhail, who replaced Houk as general manager, traded Boyer to the Atlanta Braves for Bill Robinson, who was supposed to be the next Yankee superstar after being named Minor League Player of the Year. McPhail claimed Boyer’s drinking prompted the trade; his teammates insisted that the trade was the result of his independence and his outspoken nature.

Post-Yankee Days

In 1967 Boyer had his best offensive season ever. Plying in hitter-friendly Fulton County Stadium, he established career highs in home runs (26) and RBIs (96) in a lineup that featured the likes of Hank Aaron, Joe Torre, Felipe Alou and Mack Jones. He also continued his mastery of the glove, leading National League third baseman in fielding both in 1967 and 1969. In the latter year, he finally won the Gold Glove Award that had eluded him in his Yankee years. On August 31 of that year, he fell victim to Morganna, the famed buxom “Kissing Bandit.” Prior to the kiss, he had been mired in a 1-for-17 slump; in that very at-bat, Clete drove in a run with a single. He got two more hits later in the game, then eight more hits in his next 15 at-bats. That season the Braves won the Western Division title (both leagues now had Eastern and Western Divisions after each expanding from 10 teams to 12) but lost in the playoffs to the eventual World Champion New York Mets.

Boyer continued to sparkle at third base until he was released by the Braves on May 28, 1971, after a bitter feud with owner Paul Richards and manager Lum Harris over mismanagement. Boyer complained that the organization didn’t teach the players the proper fundamentals. Richards countered that Boyer was a troublemaker. He left Major League Baseball and resurfaced in Japan, where he played professionally from 1972 to 1975. Afterwards, Boyer returned to the Major Leagues as a third-base coach with the Yankees and the Oakland Athletics, mostly with former teammate Billy Martin as manager.

Statistics

Batting Stats

Year Team G AB R H HR RBI AVG OBP SLG 2B 3B BB SO HBP SH SB IBB GDP
1955 KC A 47 79 3 19 0 6 .241 .268 .253 1 0 3 17 0 0 0 0 3
1956 KC A 67 129 15 28 1 4 .217 .284 .279 3 1 11 24 1 2 1 1 2
1957 KC A 10 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1959 NY A 47 114 4 20 0 3 .175 .215 .193 2 0 6 23 0 3 1 2 2
1960 NY A 124 393 54 95 14 46 .242 .285 .405 20 1 23 85 3 7 2 1 7
1961 NY A 148 504 61 113 11 55 .224 .308 .347 19 5 63 83 2 1 1 4 13
1962 NY A 158 566 85 154 18 68 .272 .331 .413 24 1 51 106 3 5 3 8 17
1963 NY A 152 557 59 140 12 54 .251 .295 .363 20 3 33 91 2 2 4 11 5
1964 NY A 147 510 43 111 8 52 .218 .269 .304 10 5 36 93 1 3 6 11 12
1965 NY A 148 514 69 129 18 58 .251 .304 .424 23 6 39 79 2 2 4 10 16
1966 NY A 144 500 59 120 14 57 .240 .303 .384 22 4 46 48 2 4 6 4 9
1967 ATL N 154 572 63 140 26 96 .245 .292 .423 18 3 39 81 2 0 6 3 14
1968 ATL N 71 273 19 62 4 17 .227 .275 .311 7 2 16 32 2 0 2 3 8
1969 ATL N 144 496 57 124 14 57 .250 .328 .371 16 1 55 87 4 4 3 6 16
1970 ATL N 134 475 44 117 16 62 .246 .305 .381 14 1 41 71 1 3 2 8 11
1971 ATL N 30 98 10 24 6 19 .245 .299 .439 1 0 8 11 0 1 0 2 1
Total NL 533 1914 193 467 66 251 .244 .303 .384 56 7 159 282 9 8 13 22 50
Total AL 1192 3866 452 929 96 403 .240 .297 .365 144 26 311 649 16 29 28 52 86
Total 1725 5780 645 1396 162 654 .242 .299 .372 200 33 470 931 25 37 41 74 136

Fielding Stats

Year Team POS G GS INN PO A ERR DP TP PB SB CS PkO AVG
1955 KC A 2B 10 0 0 12 11 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 .920
1955 KC A SS 12 0 0 13 13 1 4 0 0 0 0 0 .963
1955 KC A 3B 11 0 0 7 17 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1.000
1956 KC A 2B 51 0 0 94 110 6 31 0 0 0 0 0 .971
1956 KC A 3B 7 0 0 6 14 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 1.000
1957 KC A 3B 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
1957 KC A 2B 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
1959 NY A 3B 16 9 90 9 27 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .973
1959 NY A SS 26 22 194.1 40 63 1 14 0 0 0 0 0 .990
1960 NY A 3B 99 93 782.1 102 219 11 24 0 0 0 0 0 .967
1960 NY A SS 33 20 190.2 55 78 6 20 0 0 0 0 0 .957
1961 NY A 3B 141 138 1200 151 353 17 36 0 0 0 0 0 .967
1961 NY A SS 12 8 75.1 19 20 0 5 0 0 0 0 0 1.000
1962 NY A 3B 157 156 1397.1 187 396 22 41 0 0 0 0 0 .964
1963 NY A 2B 1 1 9 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.000
1963 NY A 3B 141 138 1243.1 165 309 23 32 0 0 0 0 0 .954
1963 NY A SS 9 9 80 18 34 2 8 0 0 0 0 0 .963
1964 NY A 3B 123 120 1076.1 118 278 13 28 0 0 0 0 0 .968
1964 NY A SS 21 19 191 46 61 3 13 0 0 0 0 0 .973
1965 NY A 3B 147 140 1274.2 134 354 16 46 1 0 0 0 0 .968
1965 NY A SS 2 0 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.000
1966 NY A SS 59 59 512.1 114 170 7 26 0 0 0 0 0 .976
1966 NY A 3B 85 84 741 87 226 11 12 0 0 0 0 0 .966
1967 ATL N 3B 150 148 1299 166 291 14 30 0 0 0 0 0 .970
1967 ATL N SS 6 3 39 11 18 1 5 0 0 0 0 0 .967
1968 ATL N 3B 69 67 615 74 135 4 17 0 0 0 0 0 .981
1969 ATL N 3B 141 135 1198.1 139 275 15 18 1 0 0 0 0 .965
1970 ATL N SS 5 5 47 6 12 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 .947
1970 ATL N 3B 126 123 1091.2 107 268 18 21 0 0 0 0 0 .954
1971 ATL N 3B 25 24 229.1 18 56 3 6 0 0 0 0 0 .961
1971 ATL N SS 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.000
Total 2B 63 1 9 107 122 8 32 0 0 0 0 0 .966
Total 3B 1439 1375 12240.1 1470 3218 168 315 2 0 0 0 0 .965
Total SS 186 145 1333.2 325 470 22 96 0 0 0 0 0 .973

Transactions

  • Signed as an amateur free agent (bonus baby) by Kansas City Athletics (May 31, 1955).
  • Traded by Kansas City Athletics to New York Yankees (June 4, 1957) completing trade in which New York Yankees traded Irv Noren, Milt Graff, Mickey McDermott, Tom Morgan, Rip Coleman, Billy Hunter and a player to be named later to Kansas City Athletics in exchange for Art Ditmar, Bobby Shantz, Jack McMahan, Wayne Belardi and 2 players to be named later (February 19, 1957); New York Yankees received Curt Roberts (April 4, 1957) and Kansas City Athletics received Jack Urban (April 5, 1957).
  • Traded by New York Yankees to Atlanta Braves in exchange for Bill Robinson and Chi-Chi Olivo (November 29, 1966).
  • Released by Atlanta Braves (June 2, 1971).

Trivia


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