Kenton Lloyd Boyer (May 20 1931 – September 7 1982) was an American third baseman and manager in Major League Baseball who played primarily for the St. Louis Cardinals. Winner of the 1964 National League MVP Award, he became the second player at his position to hit 250 career home runs, and retired with the third highest slugging average by a third baseman (.462). His 255 homers as a Cardinal rank second for right-handed hitters to Albert Pujols, and rank third in club history to teammate Stan Musial's 475. A five-time Gold Glove Award winner, he also led the NL in double plays five times and retired among the all-time leaders in games (6th, 1,785), assists (6th, 3,652) and double plays (3rd, 355) at third base.
A native of Alba, Missouri, Boyer was one of fourteen children, and two of his brothers also played in the major leagues: older brother Cloyd was a pitcher for the Cardinals in the early 1950s, and younger brother Clete (1937-2007) became a third baseman for the New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves. Three other brothers played in the minor leagues.
After signing with the Cardinals in 1949, Boyer was initially tried as a pitcher, but hit the ball so well that the Cardinals shifted him to third base. He served in the U.S. Army from 1951-53, and joined the Cardinals after they traded Ray Jablonski following the 1954 season. He hit .264 with 62 runs batted in as a rookie before earning the first of seven NL All-Star selections in 1956. He was shifted to center field in 1957 to allow rookie Eddie Kasko to break in at third, and led all NL outfielders in fielding percentage, but returned to third base in 1958, winning the first of four consecutive Gold Gloves and again collecting 90 RBI. His 41 double plays in 1958 equalled the second-highest total in NL history to that point.
In 1960-61, Boyer led the Cardinals in batting average (.304 and .329), home runs (32 and 24) and RBI (97 and 95); he also became the team captain during this period. He enjoyed his career highlight against the New York Yankees in the 1964 World Series, hitting a grand slam in Game 4, off pitcher Al Downing, to give the Cardinals a 4-3 victory, which marked the turning pint of the 1964 World Series and was only the 2nd grand slam by an NL player in the World Series. (Chuck Hiller had one for the San Francisco Giants in 1962.)
His brother Clete, playing in his fifth consecutive Series with the Yankees, later conceded that he was privately thrilled for his brother because it was Ken's first Series. Then, in the decisive Game 7, he collected three hits (including a double and a home run), and scored three runs as St. Louis clinched the World Championship 7-5, their first title since 1946. Clete also homered in that game, the only time in World Series history that brothers have homered in the same game. In that season Boyer earned National League MVP honors after hitting .295 with 24 home runs and leading the league with 119 RBI, becoming the first NL third baseman to do so since Heinie Zimmerman in 1917; it was also his seventh consecutive season of 90 or more RBI, tying Pie Traynor's major league record for third basemen. Boyer his exactly 24 home runs in each of 4 consecutive years (1961-1964) (32 homers in 1960 and 13 homers in 1965) to set a record for most consecutive years with the same home run total and at least 20 home runs; the record was tied by Fred Lynn of the California Angels and Baltimore Orioles (23 each year from 1984-1987), and Adam Dunn of Cincinnati NL and Washington NL (40 each year from 2004 through 2008).
After 11 years with the Cardinals, Boyer began to suffer back problems and was traded to the New York Mets (1966-67), and later to the Chicago White Sox (1967-68), before finishing his career with Los Angeles Dodgers (1968-69). In a 15-year career, Boyer was a .287 hitter with 282 home runs and 1,141 RBI in 2,034 games played. His career slugging average of .462 ranked third among players with at least 1,000 games at third base, behind Eddie Mathews (.509) and Ron Santo (then at .478), and among NL players he trailed only Mathews in assists and double plays at third base. Upon Clete's retirement in 1971, the Boyers' 444 career home runs (282 by Ken, 162 by Clete) were the fourth most in major league history by two brothers, behind Hank and Tommie Aaron (652) and the separate pairings of Joe DiMaggio with his brothers Vince (486) and Dom (448). The Boyers (Kern and Clete) with 162 home runs or more each hold the record for the highese "level" of home runs by 2 brothers. Clete Boyer died in 2008.
Boyer managed for seven seasons in the minor leagues, also returning to the Cardinals as a coach in 1971-72, before becoming manager in 1978. The following year St. Louis finished in third place, but Boyer was dismissed 18 games into the 1980 season. He compiled a 166-190 record in three seasons (1978-80). He was scheduled to manage in Triple-A, but lung cancer forced him to give up the job.
Ken Boyer died in St. Louis, Missouri at age 51. His #14, which he wore throughout his career with the Cardinals, was retired by the team in 1984. He is the only player not in the Hall of Fame to have his number retired by the Cardinals.
- Magazine covers
- Top 500 home run hitters of all time
- List of major league players with 2,000 hits
- List of NL Gold Glove Winners at Third Base
- List of Major League Baseball retired numbers
- List of Major League Baseball players with 1000 runs
- List of Major League Baseball players with 1000 RBI
- Hitting for the cycle
- List of Major League Baseball RBI champions
- Spatz, Lyle, ed. (2007). The SABR Baseball List & Record Book. New York: Scribner.
- Spatz, p. 175.
- Baseball: The Biographical Encyclopedia (2000). Kingston, NY: Total/Sports Illustrated. ISBN 1-892129-34-5.
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube
- Baseball Hall of Fame candidate profile at Internet Archive
- BaseballLibrary -biography and career highlights
- The Deadball Era - New York Times obituary
- Ken Boyer Tribute Site and Book Project
|Awards and achievements|
|Major League Player of the Month
|National League RBI Champion
|National League Most Valuable Player
|Lou Gehrig Memorial Award
|St. Louis Cardinals Manager