Clete Boyer played third base
for the Kansas City Athletics
, New York Yankees
, and Atlanta Braves
, in a sixteen-year major league
Boyer came from a baseball family. His two older brothers, Cloyd and Ken, played in the majors. Cloyd was a pitcher, and compiled a 20-23 record, while Ken was a star third baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals, retiring with 282 career home runs.
Clete spent his entire career playing in his brother Ken's shadow. In 1955, at the age of 18, Clete was called up by the Kansas City Athletics, and played sparingly in parts of three seasons for them before being traded to the New York Yankees. Boyer's Yankee career started inauspiciously, as he batted .175 in 47 games with them in 1959. In 1960, however, the Yankees moved incumbent third baseman Hector Lopez to the outfield, and gave Boyer a chance to play third every day.
Boyer batted only .242, but smacked 14 home runs, and impressed the Yankees with his defense. He would be the starting Yankee third baseman for the next six years. Boyer's finest moment as a Yankee came in the first game of the 1962 World Series, when he hit a game-winning home run. The Yankees went on to win in seven games, and Boyer batted .318.
In the 1964 Series, Boyer's Yankees matched up with the Cardinals and Ken Boyer. The Cardinals won the series in seven games, though Clete Boyer did hit a home run off of Bob Gibson in a losing effort in the finale.
Prior to the 1967 season, Boyer was traded to the Atlanta Braves for slugging outfielder Bill Robinson. The change of scenery seemed to invigorate Boyer, and he had his finest offensive season, hitting 26 homers and driving in 96 runs, both career bests.
Boyer won his only Gold Glove in 1969. He might have won more, except he had the misfortune to play at the same time as Brooks Robinson of the Baltimore Orioles, one of the greatest defensive third basemen of all time.
Boyer's last taste of postseason play came in 1969, when the Braves fell to the miracle Mets in the NLCS. He last played in the majors in 1971, but played in Japan until 1977.
Boyer later returned to baseball as a coach with the Boston Red Sox, and later a defensive instructor for the Yankees. He currently owns a restaurant in Cooperstown, New York, near the Baseball Hall of Fame.