Two Weeks, Just Two More Weeks …

Closer, ever closer to real baseball … Not next Sunday, but the one after that — Easter Sunday, in fact — and we’ll have games that matter for the St. Louis Cardinals, starting at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball.

Two weeks, or just 14 days. And 14 is an interesting number in Cardinals history. It was worn by Ken Boyer from 1955 to 1965 as a player, as well as during his Cardinals coaching career in 1971-1972 and managerial career from 1978 to 1980.


The number also was retired by the Cardinals in 1984, following Boyer’s untimely death to lung cancer in 1982.

Unlike those who wore the other numbers retired by the Cardinals, however, Boyer is not in the Hall of Fame. Yet, anyway.

Here’s more on Boyer that I wrote for Graham Womack’s Baseball Past and Present site and the annual ranking of the 50 best players not in the Hall of Fame. This piece is from 2013, when Boyer ranked No. 37.

Perhaps the best measure of whether Ken Boyer belongs in the Hall of Fame comes from the St. Louis Cardinals themselves. Traditionally, the team retires numbers only for Hall of Famers – or, in the case of Tony La Russa whose No. 10 was retired in 2012, those sure to be inducted. Gracing the left field wall at Busch Stadium are the photos and numbers of the Cooperstown inductees: Stan Musial, Dizzy Dean, Red Schoendienst, Bruce Sutter, Whitey Herzog, on and on … plus Ken Boyer’s No. 14. Boyer’s number was retired in 1984, two years after his untimely death from cancer at age 51.

Boyer was the National League MVP in 1964, as well as a key contributor during that year’s Cardinals World Series championship. He was a seven-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove third baseman whose numbers for his 15-year career – .287/.349/.462 with 282 home runs, 1141 RBI, 58.7 WAR – are comparable to those of Hall of Famer Ron Santo over his 15-year career. Of course, Santo’s journey to the Hall was long and winding, but ultimately resulted in induction. And the sentiment of long-time Cardinals fans, with this being one example, is that the same should hold true for Boyer.

He was ranked No. 40 in 2014, for which I wrote a similar piece.

Cardinals fan Kevin McCann is writing a biography of Boyer — check out more info on the book’s Facebook page.

And now just 14 days!

Catching Up With The Cardinals: Friday Edition

Friday at last, of a seemingly very long week — guess the polar vortex and snow will do that. And, with just over a month until Cardinals pitchers and catchers report to Jupiter on Feb. 12, baseball still seems far away.

saint_louis_cardinals_logoNot that there hasn’t been baseball in the news this week, with the results of the Hall of Fame voting revealed on Wednesday (and all the moralizing and lecturing and pomposity from too many of those who voted spewing out both before and after). Ahead of that, though, Graham Womack at Baseball Past and Present on Monday unveiled his fourth edition of the 50 best baseball players not in the Hall of Fame. It’s a long and great read, well worth the time for the information on each player (although three listed now are Hall of Famers — congratulations to Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas). There are several Cardinals on the list, including Ted Simmons at No. 26, Joe Torre at No. 34 (as a player, since he’ll be inducted as a manager in July) and Ken Boyer at No. 40 (and I was privileged to write about him for the project).

Speaking of Simmons, if you haven’t read The Sin of Being Second to the Best Ever by Derrick Goold yet, read it now.

Also, check out Legendary Cardinals Instructor George Kissell Deserves a Spot in the Hall of Fame from Stan McNeal at Fox Sports Midwest. Definitely would be a deserving honor for a man who did have, still has and will continue to have such an impact on the Cardinals and all those who have played for the team.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading