JIM THIELMAN: Ken Boyer Derailed My Grand Notion Of Life

You know the world holds boundless possibilities when you live near the only golf course in the nation with the front nine in one state and the back nine in another.

So when I was 6, I announced that everyone should reach age 12, then start over. There were a helluva lot of big thinkers through history. None of them had come up with that one, my parents had to admit that.

It sure didn’t seem as though turning 12 could be much better than being 10 one rainy Sunday afternoon in Breckenridge, Minn. It was Oct. 11, 1964, and the St. Louis Cardinals had just evened the World Series at two games each by rallying to beat the New York Yankees 4-3 on Ken Boyer’s grand slam.

He was one of seven Boyer boys to play pro baseball, one of three to make it to the big leagues, and one of two playing in that World Series. He and brother Clete both played third base. Kenny could hit better than Clete, who could field better than Ken.

Clete was a Yankee. It was a wonderful era for Yankee haters.

The Dodgers had swept ‘em in the ’63 Series, the Cardinals beat them in ’64. In ’65, the Minnesota Twins won the American League pennant and the Yankees didn’t win half their ball games. The Yankees didn’t seem to frighten anyone anymore.

Before the second game in St. Louis, reserve catcher Bob Uecker stole a tuba when a Dixieland band took a break. Uecker started to shag fly balls in the outfield with it. The tuba took some dents, the band sent the Cardinals a bill, and the Yankees tied the Series at a game each.

Because all World Series games were played during the day and completed in a bit more than two hours, a guy could sneak in a few innings over lunch hour.

I huffed the few blocks home from school for Game 1, sat on the living room floor with Poncho the Chihuahua, put my lunch on a footstool and turned on the RCA color TV.  My uncles owned a hardware store that sold electronics.

Glare was coming off his dark blue batting helmet when Ken Boyer singled in the sixth inning of that first game. He didn’t get another hit until that rainy Sunday.

He was a right-handed batter and just 1-for-13 when he faced lefty Al Downing. The Yankees led 3-0 in Game 4, top off the sixth.

Downing was probably the Yankees’ hardest thrower. He shook off Elston Howard and threw a change-up. Boyer lost that pitch in the stands, just inside the left field foul pole. The wind was blowing to right field to help keep the ball fair and give the Cards a 4-3 win.

The teams traded wins before the Cardinals won Game 7.

Baseball never got any better. The World Series never got any better.

As for age 12, turns out the anticipation far exceeded the actual event.

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