The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Joplin Metro

June 10, 2007

Boyer boys were in league of their own

By Debby Woodin

If Webb City is the “City of Flags,” Neosho the “Flower Box City” and Joplin the “City that Jack (zinc) Built,” then Alba would have to be the “City of Diamonds.”

Baseball diamonds.

And the Boyer family — with seven brothers who played professional ball, three in the big leagues — would be in a league of its own at a time when the little cluster of towns of Alba, Purcell and Cossville produced at least three dozen professional ballplayers.

“There were 36 kids that signed pro contracts,” remembers one of the Boyer brothers, Lynn, of Carl Junction, who says that at the time, the population at Alba was around 300.

Southwest Missouri, Southeast Kansas and Northeast Oklahoma — the home of Mickey Mantle — were fertile recruiting grounds for the former Junior Cardinals League from the mid-1940s to the mid-1960s.

The death a week ago of former New York Yankees third baseman Cletis “Clete” Boyer gave the Boyer siblings and their childhood playmates a chance to remember Jasper County’s days in the limelight of the national sport.

Brother vs. brother

Those were the days when the Yankees, with Clete Boyer and teammates Mantle, Yogi Berra and Roger Maris, won the American League pennant from 1960 through 1964 and captured World Series championships in 1961 and 1962.

Clete Boyer and his older brother, seven-time All-Star Ken Boyer, made baseball history in 1964 when they played against each other — Ken on the family’s revered St. Louis Cardinals team — in the World Series. Both hit home runs. Ken Boyer’s Cardinals won that Series.

Ken died of cancer in 1983 at the age of 51. He and Clete followed their eldest brother, Cloyd, into the major leagues. All three were third basemen.

When asked for whom she was rooting in the Series when the Yankees and Cardinals faced off, their mother, Mabel Boyer, replied, “The third baseman.”

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