The seventh greatest Cardinal: Ken Boyer
Never, ever say his name in vain.
Kenny Boyer is the best Cardinals baseball player. Team captain. All star.
And most handsome.
Mom says so.
Boyer was not only Mom’s favorite player but he had matinee idol status.
Whenever Boyer’s picture was shown on the TV sports news, as player or manager, Mom would add, “Kenny. Just look at him. He’s so handsome.”
I was a toddler who learned to love the Cardinals in the early 1960s. My favorite players were Gibson, Javier (Hoolie!) and McCarver. I knew Stan the Man was the greatest Cardinal ever. My Grandpa said so.
“Don’t forget Kenny Boyer,” Mom would interject, always adding. “Look at him. So handsome!”
Those were the good old days when all you really knew about a baseball player was what was printed on the back of his Topps baseball card.
I don’t remember much about Kenny Boyer, the baseball player. I was 6 when he was traded in 1965 to the New York Mets. But the numbers tell me he was a very good player. Fifteen years in big leagues, 11 years with the Cards. Third baseman. Team captain. Cards best everyday player in the early 1960s. All-star 11 times. Five gold gloves. Good enough for the Baseball Hall of Fame consideration. An inaugural member of the Cardinals Hall of Fame.
1964 was a magical year. Boyer was the National League’s Most Valuable Player after he led the Cardinals to the World Series Championship. He hit a grand slam in Game 4 of the World Series to defeat the Yankees, 4-3. Then he hit a home run in the seventh inning of Game 7 to seal a St. Louis 7-5 victory.
Boyer was No. 7 on the list of 100 Greatest Cardinals published a few months ago in this newspaper.
I remember him because he was my Mom’s favorite player.
Boyer retired as a player in 1969 and went into coaching. He managed the Cardinals in 1978 and 1979 before being replaced by Whitey Herzog midway through the 1980 season.
He died in 1982 of lung cancer, at age 51.
His #14 jersey was retired by the Cardinals.
Mom did not cheer much for the Cardinals after Boyer was fired as their manager in 1980.
“They did Kenny wrong,” she’d say.
This year, I’ve started collecting Cardinal bobbleheads for my home office. It started out as displaying the dozen bobbleheads that I already had but were being stored in a box. My collection continues to grow. I’m going to need more shelves soon.
I was excited to find a Ted Simmons bobblehead in a Cardinals uniform at a collectors show.
My goal is to have every Stan Musial bobblehead, and there are many versions.
I think I have all Red Schoendienst bobbleheads.
I found a Mike Shannon bobblehead when he was a player, too.
I have quite a few Gibson and Brock bobbleheads but I’m always looking for new ones.
About a month ago, with Mother’s Day approaching, I started a quest to find a Kenny Boyer bobblehead. I didn’t have to look long, thanks to eBay. I spent $64.95 on a Kenny Boyer bobblehead.
For sentimental reasons, it’s one of my favorites. It makes me think of my mom in the early 1960s. Healthy. Laughing. Joking. Fun. Feisty. Greatest mom a boy could have. She’d play catch with me in the backyard, barehanded with the big white Whiffle ball. Kickball, too. I was all-time batter, of course.
The Ken Boyer bobblehead has a prominent place on a shelf in my home office. Next to Stan the Man. Close to Red.
I’m reminded, often.
Look at him.
So handsome, Mom said so.