That's how his teammates with the St. Louis Cardinals remembered Ken Boyer. He was respected as a quiet leader who led by example. "I've never called Kenny anything but captain," recalled Tim McCarver shortly before Boyer's death. "I saw him a few months ago and I called him captain, not Kenny. I don't know any other player who is still called captain years after he retired. Kenny is just that kind of guy."
He played 10 seasons with the Cardinals from 1955 to 1965, and finished his career with the New York Mets, Chicago White Sox, and Los Angeles Dodgers from 1966 to 1969. He won the National League's Most Valuable Player award in 1964, the same year St. Louis celebrated its eighth World Series championship.
Boyer is considered the greatest third baseman in the storied history of the Cardinals. His number 14 is retired among the pantheon of other baseball greats like teammates Stan Musial, Red Schoendienst, Bob Gibson, and Lou Brock. Although some believe his career numbers as a third baseman worthy of the Baseball Hall of Fame--282 home runs and 1,141 runs batted in--he is almost forgotten today.
I never saw Ken Boyer play in the 1950s and 60s. I was too young to remember him being the manager of the Cardinals or when he passed away in 1982 at the young age of 51.
But my dad saw him play and considered him his favorite Cardinal player, as did many other Cardinals fans of his generation.
I'm writing this book as a gift to him and other Cardinals fans of the Fifties and Sixties who grew up watching him play. I've always wanted to write about the Cardinals, and I believe Ken Boyer's story deserves to be shared with a new generation of baseball fans.
I've been very fortunate to have visited Ken's hometown of Alba, Missouri and have the opportunity to interview members of the Boyer family, including three of his four children as well as his three of his siblings. I hope to travel to St. Louis this summer or fall and interview additional family members and teammates.
I haven't settled on a title yet, but the book will be a biography of Boyer's life and baseball career as a player, coach, minor league manager, and major league manager.
Why a book about Ken Boyer?
There hasn't been one written about him in almost 50 years and never one that encompassed his entire life. Those that have been written--Guardian of the Hot Corner by Jack Zanger and Ken Boyer by David Lipman--were published in 1965 and intended for younger readers.
While the Zanger and Lipman books ended with Boyer's MVP season in '64, my book will continue into his last four seasons with the New York Mets, Chicago White Sox, and Los Angeles Dodgers. After his playing career ended, he started a new career as a major-league coach and minor-league manager with the Cardinals and Baltimore Orioles. He realized his dream of managing the Cardinals from 1978 to 1980. Unfortunately, he was fired in June 1980. Two years later, his life was cut short by inoperable lung cancer.
I believe Ken Boyer should be remembered not only as an exceptionally talented athlete, but as a decent, honorable man as well. It wasn't in his personality to promote himself or his accomplishments, either on or off the field. He gave his time and celebrity to charitable endeavors such as the Multiple Sclerosis Society and the American Cancer Society. Without fanfare or publicity, he visited hospitals when sick children asked to meet him and he spent time with them.
The more I learn about him, the more impressed I am about him both as a player and a person. Family members and teammates have named their children for him. That kind of thing doesn't happen unless that person had a positive influence on one's life.
As a Christian, I also want to explore the spiritual aspect of his life. The Boyers were a religious family and attended Alba Christian Church. Ken accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior during his fight with cancer. One of his sisters said after his death, "He's with the Lord...He has a testimony that is going to affect a lot of people. He had a lot of friends and many of them expressed that he has been a great influence on their lives." I would like to share his testimony in this book.
Where I Am Right Now
I've started writing the book, but I'm still doing newspaper microfilm research and contacting former teammates and family members for interviews. My goal is to have a finished draft by March 2014, then start creating the final book cover and page layout (if not sooner).
Why I Need Your Help
Researching, writing, and publishing a book is expensive. Funds acquired through this Kickstarter effort will go toward research expenses (photocopies, interlibrary loans, books, permission to reproduce photos) and travel expenses to St. Louis (gasoline, hotel room) for personal interviews with family members and former teammates.
For now, I can only offer a paperback edition of the book as a reward. I may also add an ebook version at some point. However, if $2,970 can be raised ABOVE the initial goal of $2,500, this would help pay printing costs that would allow me to substitute a limited-edition HARDBACK edition for the one of the two paperbacks offered for a pledge of $75 and one limited-edition HARDBACK edition for one of the three paperbacks offered for a pledge of $100. This would be a tremendous bonus for the project!
I love creating books, so I'm going to publish it myself through my small press, BrayBree Publishing. This will enable me to have greater control of its overall design and content and produce a book that I hope Cardinals fans will enjoy. But creative control almost means the financial burden is placed upon my shoulders.
I hope you will share this experience with me. Please take a look at the reward levels and consider making a pledge to help make create this book. If you have any questions about the project or the rewards, please contact me. Thank you for reading!
Risks and challenges
The biggest challenge will be completing the final draft by March 2104, so that the book will be ready to publish by the spring or summer of 2014. But I'm determined to make this goal and have it available for the 50th anniversary of Ken Boyer's MVP season and the Cardinals' 1964 World championship.
Reaching the goal of $2,500 will be a tremendous boost to the project, as it will allow me to fund the trip to St. Louis to complete interviews with family members and former teammates in the area as well as help with research expenses.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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