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Best Cardinals Third Baseman of All-Time

by Mark Ashby Vaughan

This is the fifth in a series of ten articles counting down the best ever Cardinals players at each position.

As I said in the first article of this series, I will be going around the diamond based on the box score number of each position and picking the top two players at that position.

This being the fifth article in the series, let’s take a look at the number 5 position – Third Baseman.

The greatest Cardinals 3rd baseman ever is the beloved “Captain”, Ken Boyer (1955 – 1965).

Originally tried out as a pitcher early in his career, it was decided that Kenny hit too well to restrict his on field appearances to just once every four to five days and he was quickly converted to third base.

Although third base is one of just two positions at which the Cardinals have had no Hall of Fame players, Ken Boyer was a solid, tried-and-true performer for the team, winning 7 All-Star nominations, 5 Gold Glove awards and an MVP award in ’64.

Six times Boyer drove home 90 or more runners in addition to breaking the 100-plus RBI mark twice, totaling 255 homers and 1,001 RBIs while a Redbird. In his eleven years with the team, Boyer averaged 23 home runs and 91 RBIs while hitting for a .293 average.

Boyer’s finest moment came during his MVP season (’64) against the New York Yankees in game 4 of the World Series that year. With the Cards down two games to one and trailing 3-0 in the 6th inning, Boyer hit a grand slam against Al Downing to lead the Cardinals to a 4-3 win and a tie of the Series.

Boyer then led the team to ultimate victory in a decisive game 7 with 3 hits, doubling and homering and scoring 3 runs during a 7-5 win. Game 7 is also the only time in World Series history when brothers homered in the same game (Ken’s brother Clete was the Yankee’s 3rd baseman).

Boyer is also the only Cardinals player to hit for the cycle twice in his career.

Although Kenny was mediocre during his three year effort at managing the Cardinals (.466 winning percentage), he was, and remains, one of the most popular Cardinals in team history.

The team honored Boyer by retiring his #14 in 1984.

The #2 spot on the list of Best Cardinals Third Baseman of All-Time goes to Whitey Kurowski (1942 -- 1947).

Whitey was a 4-time All-Star in his 9 seasons with the Redbirds in which he averaged 21 homers and 98 RBIs while hitting for a .292 average.

Kurowski, who overcame osteomyelitis as a child (the disease resulted in him missing a part of the bone in his right forearm), played in four World Series (’42, ’43, ’44 & ’46) with the team, winning three times.

His only World Series home run came in the 9th inning of game five of the ’42 Series, breaking a 2-2 score and giving the Cardinals the title over the dreaded Yankees.

Honorable Mention goes to Scott Rolen.

Had Rolen not injured his shoulder while with the team, and had he stayed a few more years with the Cardinals organization, he might well have overtaken Boyer for 1st place on the list.

Special Award: No doubt, the greatest single season by Cardinals 3rd baseman goes to Joe Torre. Torre’s ’71 MVP totals of 634 at-bats, 97 runs, 230 hits, 34 doubles, 8 triples, 24 homers and 137 RBI’s, all while hitting a league-leading .363, may never be matched.

Note: The links below refer back to any previously published ‘Greatest Cardinal Player’ articles written by this author --

Pitcher: http://www.cardinalsmix.com/2009/11/best-cardinals-pitcher-of-all-time.html

Catcher: http://www.cardinalsmix.com/2009/11/best-cardinals-catcher-of-all-time.html

1st Base: http://www.cardinalsmix.com/2009/12/best-cardinals-first-baseman-of-all.html

2nd Base: http://www.cardinalsmix.com/2010/02/best-cardinals-second-baseman-of-all.html

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