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Published: Monday, 6/4/2007

Former Yankees third baseman Clete Boyer dead at 70

ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK Clete Boyer, the third baseman for the champion New York Yankees teams of the 1960s who made an art form of diving stops and throws from his knees, died today. He was 70.

Boyer died in an Atlanta hospital from complications of a brain hemorrhage, son-in-law Todd Gladden said.

He wanted to be cremated and he wanted his ashes to go in a Yankee urn, Gladden said.

Boyer played from 1955-71 with the Yankees, Kansas City Athletics and Atlanta. He helped the Yankees reach the World Series in five straight years from 1960-64, when they won two titles.

He was a great Yankee and a tough guy. He never talked too much but he was extremely hardworking. A wonderful third baseman, and had fire in his belly, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner said through a spokesman.

Boyer was a career .242 hitter with 162 home runs and 654 RBIs. Decent stats, but it was fielding that became his signature.

Boyer added an air of flamboyance to a Yankees team that otherwise played with a conservative precision. His only Gold Glove came in 1969 in Atlanta; he might ve earned more had it not been for the peerless Brooks Robinson.

In all my years of playing with him, he only made one bad throw to me, former Yankees second baseman Bobby Richardson said by telephone from his home in South Carolina.

When I made the double play, I could just about close my eyes, put my glove up and the ball would be there, he said. I would consider him one of the best players defensively. And when we got in the World Series and the lights came up, he made those great, great plays.

In 1964, Boyer and his brother, Ken, became the first brothers to homer in the same World Series game. They did it in Game 7, when the St. Louis Cardinals won Ken, also a third baseman, was the NL MVP that season. Ken Boyer died in 1982 at age 51.

The Boyer family included another brother who played in the majors, Cloyd, who pitched from 1949-55.

After finishing with the Braves, Clete Boyer played in Japan. He later coached under Billy Martin with Oakland and the Yankees.

Boyer was part of an exceptional Yankees infield in the 1960s that included Richardson, shortstop Tony Kubek and first basemen Moose Skowron.

Richardson said he was with Boyer last month in New York for a reunion of the 1961 Yankees infield. We had three or four, we looked forward to them, Richardson said.

Boyer s best World Series performance came in 1962, when he hit .318 with a home run and four RBIs in the seven-game victory over San Francisco.

At 18, Boyer made his major league debut with Kansas City. The A s traded him to the Yankees during the 1957 season.

I would give him a lot of credit for being a good No. 8 hitter. It wasn t easy in those days, with the pitcher hitting being you, Richardson said. He was a team player and a great teacher.

He was a hard liver, I don t think that s any secret, he said. He lived life to the fullest.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com



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