Wednesday, June 06, 2007



New York Post

June 5, 2007 -- CHICAGO - To different generations of Yankees fans Clete Boyer meant something different. In the 1960s he was the clutch-hitting third baseman who was the best at diving toward the line and turning doubles into outs. Later, he was a coach. And to Derek Jeter, he was someone to go to in order to learn about throwing balls to first when Boyer was a spring training instructor.

All of that came flowing back yesterday when Boyer was taken off life support in Atlanta and died at the age of 70. Boyer, a Yankee from 1959 to 1966, suffered a stroke Sunday.

“It must have been 1993 or maybe 1994 when Clete was in spring training and he was telling me about my throws,’’ Jeter said minutes after hearing about his mentor’s death in the Yankees’ clubhouse. “He told me to throw the ball low and toward the home plate side of the first base. That way, he said, you give the first baseman a chance. He has no chance if you throw it high and the other way. He was a great guy and always very good with young players. He went out of his way to help us.’’

Moose Skowron, a Yankees teammate, paid Boyer the highest compliment.

“I got a lot of rings because he was playing third base,’’ Skowron said. “He was a helluva player. He always gave 100 percent. He hung around with Whitey (Ford) and Mickey (Mantle), he was part of the group.’’

Skowron was with Boyer recently in Long Island and looking forward to having his pal join him for a fantasy camp in October.

“He said he would be more than honored to come and now he won’t be there,’’ Skowron said.

In a statement issued through his public relations firm, George Steinbrenner said, “He was a great third baseman and a tough guy. He never talked too much. He was a very hard worker and had fire in his belly.’’

“He loved life, you can say that much,’’ said Joe Torre, a teammate of Boyer’s in Atlanta. “He was a real good player. He played when Brooks (Robinson) played so he didn’t get a lot of attention but he could play third base.’’

Boyer, who helped the Yankees win World Series titles in 1961 and 1962, played in 27 World Series games from 1960 through 1964 and holds the World Series record for assists by a third baseman (68). In Game 7 of the 1964 World Series against the Cardinals, Clete and his brother Ken, also a third baseman, homered. Ken, the NL MVP that season, died in 1982 at age 51.

Boyer won his only Gold Glove while with Atlanta in 1969. He was a career .242 hitter with 162 home runs and 654 RBIs. He made his major league debut in 1955 with the Kansas City Athletics at the age of 18. The A’s traded him to the Yankees during the 1957 season.

After finishing his career in 1971, Boyer played in Japan. He later coached under Billy Martin with Oakland and the Yankees.

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