How Much Do You Know About Ken Boyer?

Most of us are familiar with Ken Boyer’s name at the very least — we see his retired number 14 on the wall at Busch Stadium. And now a fellow Cardinals fan, Kevin McCann, is writing a book about Boyer so all of us in Cardinal Nation can know more about the former player and manager.

Here’s a guest post from Kevin about his project.

KenBoyer_display_imageI’ve been working on a biography of third baseman Ken Boyer for the past two years. Although I never saw him play and I barely remember him as the manager, he was my father’s favorite Cardinal in the 1960s. Having written about subjects ranging from minor league baseball to the Civil War, I’ve decided to write a book that he might actually read!

Today’s fans know Ken Boyer for his number 14 retired by the team and his image displayed on the left field wall at Busch Stadium, and that he was the NL MVP in 1964. Yet in a recent polling of Post-Dispatch readers, he received only 4 percent of the vote behind Hall of Famers Bob Gibson (49 percent) and Lou Brock (40 percent) for Favorite Cardinal of the 1960s.

Boyer wasn’t intimidating like Gibson or as brazen on the basepaths like Brock. He wasn’t a flashy player on or off the field. Instead, he played the game with a steady grace often mistaken for being lackadaisical because he made the difficult plays at third base look routine. He was “the Captain” from 1959 until his trade in 1965, and was the undisputed team leader even when one of his teammates was the Greatest Cardinal of Them All. An 11-time All-Star with five Gold Gloves, he was the team’s all-time home run leader among right-handed batters (second only to Stan Musial overall) when he was traded at the end of the 1965 season.

In the past 48 years, there have been only two books written about Boyer: Guardian of the Hot Corner by Jack Zanger and Ken Boyer by former Post-Dispatch sports editor David Lipman. Both were published after his MVP season and directed more towards younger readers. He deserves a more contemporary look at his entire life and baseball career — including his final season in St. Louis, his last four seasons with the Mets, White Sox, and Dodgers, his time as manager of the Cardinals, and his all-too-soon death from lung cancer at the age of 51 — written for all fans.

I’ve had the chance to visit Ken’s hometown of Alba, Mo., and take photos of places from his childhood and teenage years and where he is buried. I’ve interviewed three of his children, his older brother and former Cardinals pitcher Cloyd Boyer, as well as a few former teammates and manager Solly Hemus. I’m hoping to make it back to St. Louis later this summer to interview Kathleen Boyer (Ken’s wife) and do some research at the public library and the Mercantile Library. You can follow my progress on my blog and my Ken Boyer Facebook page.

Recently, I started a crowd-funding campaign on Kickstarter to help me with research and travel expenses associated with the book. Please read the page for more details to and look over the rewards I’m offering in exchange for your financial support.

I hope Cardinals Nation will consider helping me bring the book to publication next year, the 50th anniversary of the Cardinals’ 1964 World championship and Boyer’s MVP season. Perhaps it could even help his chances when the Golden Era Committee selects players from 1947-1972 for the Hall of Fame later that year.

2 thoughts on “How Much Do You Know About Ken Boyer?

  1. Pingback: New Kickstarter Campaign for Ken Boyer Book | Kevin D. McCann

  2. Boy that name brings back many memories. I remember Ken Boyer as a rock solid third baseman who was dangerous at the plate but I’ll reluctantly admit that I know and remember more about Bob Gibson and Lou Brock. Lou Brock is a gentleman who once had a cocktail with a Pirate fan at our Dapper Dan banquet. Our anchor announcer used to say that Bob Gibson could “throw a strawberry through a locomotive”.

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