Thursday, March 1, 2007

Santo, Boyer and the Hall


When Cubs fans here in northern Illinois think of Ron Santo, they channel his disappointment on barely missing election to the baseball Hall-of-Fame again.

Me, I think of Ken Boyer. If Santo gets in the Hall, Boyer deserves to go too. Although the debate here in Chicago doesn't include Boyer, it does in St. Louis, here and here. Consider their similar stats:

Santo 2243
Boyer 2034

Santo 2254
Boyer 2143

Batting Average
Santo .277
Boyer .287

Home Runs
Santo 342
Boyer 282

Stolen Bases
Santo 35
Boyer 105

Golden Gloves
Santo 5
Boyer 5

All-Star Selections
Santo 9
Boyer 7

Most Valuable Player Award
Santo 0
Boyer 1

Growing up in St. Louis and playing a lot of third base, Ken Boyer was somebody I deeply admired. I was seven years old when he won the NL MVP in 1964 and hit one of the most memorable HRs in team history, a grand slam in game 4 of that year's World Series. The Cards had fallen behind 2-1 in games and things were looking glum in my world because it was 3-0 Yankees in the sixth inning. Boyer hit one right down the left field line at Yankees' stadium off Al Downing for a 4-3 lead that held up. The Cards went on to win that WS in seven games.

Despite that crucial HR, then Cards announcer Harry Caray was always needling Boyer on the air as a player who couldn't get the big hit. There must have been a personality clash because Boyer was a great player.

As much as I deeply admired Boyer, at the same time I deeply despised Santo. His habit of clicking his heels after a Cubs' win in early 1969 was too much to bear for this St. Louis fan because the heavily favored Cards, winners of the ‘67 and ‘68 NL pennants, were floundering. You can bet I was rooting for the Mets once the Cards were eliminated.

Over the last several years, it was hard to sustain my dislike of Santo. He's not a good announcer but he's proven to be a man of character and integrity through his well-publicized bout with diabetes. If I were a Cubs' fan, I'd love the guy.

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