Seven-time all-star Ken Boyer spent 15 years in the Major Leagues, racking up 282 home runs and 1,141 RBI. He retired in 1969 as only the second third basemen in history with 250 homers and over 1,000 RBI (along with Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews). That statistic alone should make you wonder why he didn’t have more support when he became eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame.
In the eleven-year span from Boyer’s rookie campaign of 1955 through 1965, only four players in the league managed to knock in 1,000 runs while keeping his batting average above the .290 mark. This short list includes Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson… along with Boyer. Being a third baseman, Boyer is the sole infielder of the four. Somehow, though, the former St. Louis Cardinals great never got more than 25% of the vote.
Boyer finished his career with a lifetime average of .287. He had seven consecutive seasons of 90 or more RBI, capped off by a league leading 119 in his 1964 MVP season. While the early half of the 1960s was being dominated by pitching, Boyer was one of only four players to collect 900 hits while holding an OPS of 0.850 or better—joining only Hall of Famers Mays, Aaron and Roberto Clemente. Again, Boyer was the only infielder on the list.
In the field, Boyer won five Gold Glove Awards. He retired with the fifth most assists in history as a third basemen, finishing in the top three in the category ten times in his career. In his one season as an outfielder, he led the league with a .996 fielding percentage. So what else does this guy have to do?
The Baseball Writers Association of America and the Veterans Committee have erred in keeping Boyer out of Cooperstown to date. There’s a whole slew of inferior third baseman that have already been honored (the list starts with George Kell), so perhaps it’s time to revisit the career of this baseball legend.
The Veterans Committee will release their 2014 ballot later this year. I’m very anxious to see whether or not Boyer’s name will appear. If so, he’ll need the support of 75 percent of the voters. All we can do now is wait to see if they get this right.
(JM Catellier is the author of the book Fixing Baseball, a guide to restructuring the Hall of Fame. Follow him on Twitter: @FixingBaseball and Facebook, and check out his site: www.fixingbaseball.com)