I remember the grand slam Ken Boyer hit for the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 4 of the 1964 World Series against the New York Yankees.
I was a 9, but I knew what was going on. And that Boyer homer, which erased a 3-0 Yankees lead and propelled the Cardinals to a 4-3 win, turned the Series around.
The Cardinals evened the Series at 2-2 and went on to win in seven games. Boyer’s homer is one of the biggest blows in Cardinals history.
But that’s not why I believe he should get into the Baseball Hall of Fame on the Golden Era ballot, which is due on Dec. 8 and includes nine former players and ex-executive Bob Howsam. I think Boyer’s overall numbers are good enough for inclusion, though the big World Series grand slam doesn’t hurt his cause.
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I also believe Dick Allen and Luis Tiant should receive the necessary 75 percent of the votes from the 16 who serve on the Golden Era committee.
As for the other players – first baseman Gil Hodges, outfielder Minnie Minoso, outfielder Tony Oliva, shortstop Maury Wills and pitchers Jim Kaat and Billy Pierce – better luck next time.
I have no opinion on Howsam, a former front-office executive with the Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds.
Boyer, a third baseman, has numbers nearly the equal of his biggest rival of the time, the Chicago Cubs’ Ron Santo. And Santo is in the Hall, rightly so.
Boyer accumulated 2,143 hits, 282 homers and 1,141 RBIs during his 15-year career. He was the National League MVP in 1964 when he led the league with 119 RBI. He had an .810 OPS (combined slugging and on-base percentage) and stole 105 bases, most of them early in his career.
And Boyer could play the hot corner, too, as his five Gold Gloves indicate. He was just a solid, good, dependable player. Not great, not flashy, but one of the finest players of his generation. He was a career .287 hitter and batted .300 or better five times.
The Cardinals have already retired Boyer’s number; his likeness is on the left-field wall at Busch Stadium along with other great players in franchise history.
Dick Allen, a slugger who broke in with the Philadelphia Phillies in an auspicious way in 1964, ranks No. 60 all-time among hitters in WAR. And if you mention WAR around the folks who know what the heck it means, they’ll break into a huge grin.
WAR is basically a formula devised by smart people to determine how many wins a player is responsible for above a replacement player.
Allen was the Rookie of the Year for the Phillies and was one of the most dangerous and proflic hitters of his time. He finished his 15-year career wtih a .292 average, 351 homers and 1,119 RBI and was the American League MVP in 1972 with the Chicago White Sox, when he batted .308 with 37 homers and 113 RBI.
Allen’s .912 career OPS is higher than those of Mike Schmidt, Gary Sheffield, Ken Griffey Jr., Willie McCovey and Willie Stargell. He was a league leader in OPS three times and played in seven All-Star games.
Tiant pitched 19 seasons in the big leagues, mostly for Cleveland and Boston with a late-career stop in New York with the Yankees.
A colorful hurler with a style all his own, Tiant was 229-172 with a 3.30 ERA and finished in the top six of the Cy Young Award voting three times. He twice led the American League in ERA, including a 1.60 mark to go with a 21-9 record for the Indians in 1968. Tiant, overshadowed by Bob Gibson of the Cardinals and Denny McLain of the Tigers in that pitching-rich season, allowed only 152 hits in 258.1 innings. It was a remarkable season.
But in 1969, Tiant went just 9-20 for the Indians and was shipped off to Minnesota and then to Boston, where he resurrected his career. Tiant won 122 games in his eight seasons with the Red Sox from 1971-78.
Boyer, Allen and Tiant are the three most-deserving to get into the Hall of Fame next month. We’ll see if the Golden Era comittee agrees.
As always, thanks for reading.