LONGTIME YANKEES third baseman Clete Boyer, who died last week at age 70, had the great misfortune of playing in the American League at the same time as Brooks Robinson. Had their careers not overlapped, had he not been forced to play Salieri to Robinson's Mozart, Boyer, whose signature hot-corner move was a graceful diving stop followed by a strong throw from his knees, would be remembered more fondly by later generations. In his day, though, Boyer certainly was appreciated. "I had the same concentration in the field that Ted Williams had at bat," Boyer said in 1981. "Even when we took infield [practice], I knew people were watching me. Guys from the other team. The fans. I was alive, I was on stage. I loved it." There was one thing Boyer loved more than playing third: his family. The native of Alba, Mo., had 13 siblings, including major leaguers Cloyd, a pitcher, and Ken, a third baseman. During the 1964 World Series, Clete's fifth Fall Classic, the Yankees faced Ken's Cards. The Boyers made history in Game 7 when they became the first brothers to homer in the same World Series game. They acknowledged the feat by nodding to each other as they rounded third base. Inside, though, Clete was thrilled for his big brother. Earlier, Ken had won Game 4 for St. Louis with a grand slam at Yankee Stadium. "When he hit that homer, I loved it," Clete said years later. "In my heart, I think I was pulling for him because it was his first Series."
Clete put up solid but unspectacular numbers at the plate—"With my glove I felt I could handle anything; with my bat I wasn't so sure," he said, but he spent most of his time with the Yanks hitting eighth, in front of the pitcher, which meant he rarely saw good pitches. After being traded to the Braves in 1967, Boyer was moved up in the lineup and hit 26 homers. Playing in Atlanta also meant he was finally away from Robinson, who monopolized the AL Gold Glove at third from 1960 until 1975. In 1969 Boyer won his first—and only—Gold Glove. "Anytime I see the ball hit toward Clete, I know it's a sure out," Braves teammate Phil Niekro said in 1970. "He is amazing."