Clete Boyer 1937--2007

June 18, 2007
June 18, 2007

Table of Contents
June 18, 2007

SI Bonus Section: Golf Plus
Pro Football
  • At his first Patriots minicamp, wideout Randy Moss looked like a new man. Can a player disparaged for his work ethic succeed in an all-for-one ethos?

  • Rafael Nadal and Justine Henin once again ruled the French¬†Open, winning their third straight titles in grand fashion on Roland Garros's terre battue

Horse Racing
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Motor Sports
Omar Minaya

Clete Boyer 1937--2007

LONGTIME YANKEES third baseman Clete Boyer, who died last week at age 70, had the great misfortune of playing in the American League at the same time as Brooks Robinson. Had their careers not overlapped, had he not been forced to play Salieri to Robinson's Mozart, Boyer, whose signature hot-corner move was a graceful diving stop followed by a strong throw from his knees, would be remembered more fondly by later generations. In his day, though, Boyer certainly was appreciated. "I had the same concentration in the field that Ted Williams had at bat," Boyer said in 1981. "Even when we took infield [practice], I knew people were watching me. Guys from the other team. The fans. I was alive, I was on stage. I loved it." There was one thing Boyer loved more than playing third: his family. The native of Alba, Mo., had 13 siblings, including major leaguers Cloyd, a pitcher, and Ken, a third baseman. During the 1964 World Series, Clete's fifth Fall Classic, the Yankees faced Ken's Cards. The Boyers made history in Game 7 when they became the first brothers to homer in the same World Series game. They acknowledged the feat by nodding to each other as they rounded third base. Inside, though, Clete was thrilled for his big brother. Earlier, Ken had won Game 4 for St. Louis with a grand slam at Yankee Stadium. "When he hit that homer, I loved it," Clete said years later. "In my heart, I think I was pulling for him because it was his first Series."

This is an article from the June 18, 2007 issue Original Layout

Clete put up solid but unspectacular numbers at the plate—"With my glove I felt I could handle anything; with my bat I wasn't so sure," he said, but he spent most of his time with the Yanks hitting eighth, in front of the pitcher, which meant he rarely saw good pitches. After being traded to the Braves in 1967, Boyer was moved up in the lineup and hit 26 homers. Playing in Atlanta also meant he was finally away from Robinson, who monopolized the AL Gold Glove at third from 1960 until 1975. In 1969 Boyer won his first—and only—Gold Glove. "Anytime I see the ball hit toward Clete, I know it's a sure out," Braves teammate Phil Niekro said in 1970. "He is amazing."