So many memories of Clete Boyer come in 5x7 and 8x10. They are glossy black and white and grainy color. Some images flicker across a screen: a drive to Boyer’s left, great stop, from his knees to Bobby Richardson and on to Joe Pepitone. 5-4-3 double play.
These are most of my memories because I wasn’t lucky enough to see Boyer play, but they weren’t my first thoughts when I heard he died yesterday at 70.
I remember Boyer coaching third base for the Columbus Clippers in 2002. They were in Syracuse during the heat of the summer and he was in the midst of trying to mold Drew Henson into a Major League third baseman.
Boyer’s legs were bothering him by then and his jog was slow, but he still did the job.
A few years later I heard him speak in Cooperstown and asked about working with Henson.
“The Yankees needed me,” he said. “I’d do anything for them because they did everything for me.”
A crowd gathered around after he spoke and a man wearing a Boston hat asked him a question. Boyer grabbed the hat and flipped it into the corner.
“You can’t wear that near me,” Boyer deadpanned.
The crowd laughed.
Boyer smiled, but didn’t laugh.
Moose Skowron remembered him as “a good teammate and a good guy.”