When I was in grade school, I read every sports biography I could get my hands on. Our school library had “Ken Boyer: Guardian of the Hot Corner,” and I became the third person in my house to check out the book from PS 1. Because their brothers seemingly had a monopoly on checking out this book, even my sisters knew who Boyer was. Anyway, the book also had an additional moniker – the Complete Life Story of Baseball’s “Most Valuable Player.” Which seemed odd to me as a kid, since it was written while he was still alive, being published in 1965. What seems even odder today is that this book fetches as much as $125 online. Now I need to go back and see if it’s still in the PS 1 collection.

As you internet sleuths have figured out by now, today’s Card of the Week entry focuses on Boyer’s 1966 card, featuring him in full Mets uniform. That was a pretty impressive feat, as he was traded following the 1965 season. The photos on Topps cards were usually a year behind. And the two guys who went to the Cardinals did not get such royal treatment.

In his 1966 Topps card, Al Jackson is shown capless, wearing a road Mets uniform with the blue collar of the sweatsuit that players wore to lose weight being clearly visible. And Charlie Smith, whose 1964 card show him in a complete White Sox uniform – including cap – with METS blaring at the top, got his second card in three years wearing a uniform other than the one for the team he was allegedly playing for in the ’66 set. He’s capless in the ’66 card but clearly wearing a Mets home uniform top, one not even airbrushed red for Cardinals colors.

Jackson’s card was understandable, given it was a card from the third series. But both Boyer and Smith were fifth-series cards. It seems you make a little more effort to get the uniform right for an MVP from two years ago.

And speaking of MVP, it’s a little bit remarkable that Boyer went from MVP in 1964 to the last-place Mets in 1966. Even Zoilo Versalles – whose biography was also read from that awesome PS 1 library – stayed with the Twins for two years after winning his MVP Award in 1965. So what gives with Boyer being given his walking papers?

The site RetroSimba has a nice breakdown as to the why of the deal. As Mets fans, you probably know this came after the club got Bing Devine to help run the organization. Coming from the Cardinals, it’s little surprise that he was after Boyer. The article said that same Jackson-Smith package was being discussed with the Angels for Jose Cardenal, while the Cardinals were shopping Boyer to the Astros. The Cardinals thought Boyer was in decline and they wanted Jackson as a LHP in case future Met Ray Sadecki didn’t bounce back from his down season in 1965.

Boyer went from a 130 OPS+ in ’64 to a 91 mark in ’65, so it’s easy to see why the Cardinals felt it was time to move on. Boyer did bounce back some in ’66 with the Mets, posting a 101 OPS+ and he led the Mets in both RBIs (61) and doubles (28). It was more of the same in ’67, as Boyer had a 100 OPS+ before being dealt mid-season to the White Sox in the J.C. Martin deal.

It appears Topps had no interest in giving Boyer special treatment again, as his 1968 card shows him capless wearing a road Mets uniform. Of course, this was the time period where the Players’ Union was trying to get a better deal from Topps. They were encouraging players to refuse to pose for pictures with the Topps’ photographers, forcing them to use older-than-normal pictures for the players who went along with the boycott. It was more of an issue in the 1969 set but it was also a factor in 1968, too.

The ’68 Martin was also a capless card.

You can only see the “4” in Boyer’s ’66 card but he wore #14 as a Met, the same number he wore with the Cardinals. St, Louis retired Boyer’s #14 in 1984. The Mets retired #14, too, as no player wore that number after Boyer. But it’s not for anything Boyer did with the Mets. Rather, it was for Gil Hodges, who wore the number 14 both when he played for the Mets in 1962-63 and when he came back to manage them, starting in 1968.

7 comments on “Mets Card of the Week: 1966 Ken Boyer

  • Mike W

    Love the card. 66-69 were my favorite Topps cards. I started collecting in 1968. I am trying to build the 69 set. I have probably 70% of the cards.

    • Brian Joura

      Did you ever send me your wantlists?

      • Mike W

        I need to make a list of numbers that I need. May so so this weekend.

  • Foxdenizen

    His brother Clete Boyer was with the Yankees for most of the 1966 season. I wonder if that is the only time 2 brothers have played major league ball in the same city at the same time but for different teams?

    • Brian Joura

      I thought the Alou brothers did it in NY but Felipe was with the Yankees in ’73 while Jesus didn’t come to the Mets in ’75.

      But the Aspromontes did it. Ken was with the Angels in 1961 while Bob was with the Dodgers.

    • Mike W

      Bob Meusel played for the Yankees and Irish Meusel played for the Giants at the same time in the 1920s.

  • Pete

    All 3 of the Alou brothers played for the Giants in 1963 and started one game together in the outfield. Ken Boyer was one o my favorite players and I love that 1966 card.

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