Ken Boyer: All-Star, MVP, Captain

I’m excited to share the title and front cover of my latest book project, a biography of baseball great Ken Boyer.

Ken Boyer: All-Star, MVP, Captain tells the story of Kenton Lloyd Boyer (1931-1982), who played major-league baseball for 15 seasons, most of them with the St. Louis Cardinals from 1955 to 1965. He spent his last four seasons with the New York Mets, the Chicago White Sox, and the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was a five-time Gold Glove Award winner for his exceptional defense at third base, an 11-time All-Star at the same position, and the recipient of the National League’s Most Valuable Player Award in 1964.

The book also explores his personal life, his childhood in southwest Missouri, his minor-league career, and his coaching and managerial careers.

Ken Boyer: All-Star, MVP, Captain is tentatively scheduled for publication in August 2014, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of both the Cardinals’ 1964 World championship and Ken’s MVP season.

To learn more about this project, please visit my book page, like my Ken Boyer page on Facebook, or follow it on Twitter.

Ken Boyer_Front Cover

Title Considerations

Book-question-mark

Sometimes it’s the easiest part of writing a book. Or it can be the hardest decision to make in the whole process.

What should I call it?

That’s the dilemma I have with my biography of St. Louis Cardinals great Ken Boyer. Oh, I have several titles in mind, but I haven’t settled on the one I’ll use yet.

I’ve asked my Kickstarter backers and followers of my Ken Boyer: Captain of the St. Louis Cardinals Facebook page for their input and suggestions.

Below is a list of possibilities as well as ones that have been suggested to me:

  • Ken Boyer: A Life in Baseball
  • Ken Boyer: A Baseball Biography
  • Ken Boyer: A Baseball Life
  • The Captain: The Life and Baseball Times of Ken Boyer
  • 14: The Baseball Life of Ken Boyer
  • Ken Boyer: A Cardinal Legend
  • Ken Boyer 14: The Captain’s Baseball Life
  • Ken Boyer: The Biography of a Cardinals Legend
  • Janie Boyer’s Dad*

* I thought this was the funniest one.

I’ve also started looking through photos I’ve gathered (and exploring a few other possibilities) as likely candidates for use on the front cover. But to have the cover, I need to have the title selected.

I’d be very interested to know what your thoughts may be, either from the list above or another suggestion. (Note: This poll is only to record reader input and the final title decision will be at my discretion.)

Kickstart for Ken Boyer Book Successful

Thanks to 42 backers (actually 44 to account for two contributions sent by mail), the Kickstarter campaign for my Ken Boyer book was successfully funded at 9:48 PM CST last night!

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After the first effort in February and March fell very short of the $2,500 goal, I had my doubts whether this second try would succeed. But a friend thought that tax preparation time was a bad time to ask anyone for money–which in hindsight makes perfect sense!–so I regrouped and gave it another try in July and August. Thankfully, it was a success.

The following comes from my project update to my backers posted this morning:

I’m amazed at the outpouring of support for my project, especially in the last few days as the deadline to fund this Kickstarter effort drew closer. Honestly, there were moments when I doubted the mark would be reached in time. But every one of you came through to make this possible. And for that, I will be forever grateful to you.

Longtime friends, Cardinals fans, and baseball fans in general really stepped up to the plate and showed their support for me personally or how much they wanted to make this book to be written and published.

What has really struck me is the faith that Ken’s children and grandchildren have showed in my work through their pledges, emails, and Facebook messages. This is the most rewarding aspect for me–to have their approval for my project as it goes forward.

A few special “thank-yous” are in order:

Thank you to all 44 backers who have placed their faith and trust in me to accomplish my goal of writing and publishing a book fitting of Ken Boyer’s legacy. I will do my best to make you all proud!

$1964 Raised but $536 Left to Raise in 60 Hours

Yesterday, pledges were added or increased to my Kickstarter effort for my Ken Boyer book to bring the total amount raised as of this morning to $1964.

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Anyone who knows about Ken Boyer and the St. Louis Cardinals realizes the significance of that number.

It was in 1964 that the Cardinals made an August-September comeback to clinch the National League pennant on the last day of the season. It was also the year that Ken, the team captain, batted .295 with 24 homers and 119 RBIs and was named the N.L. Most Valuable Player.

Whether it’s successful or not (though I hope it is!), I’m very grateful and appreciative of the support shown through the pledges that have been made. It’s nice to know there are still fans of Ken who remember him and the personal qualities and talent he brought to the St. Louis Cardinals and–I’m finding out–to the other teams he played for and managed as well.

If you would like to make a pledge, please visit the Kickstarter page and click “Make a Pledge” in the right-hand column. Thank you!

PROJECT UPDATES

On Saturday, I had the opportunity to interview former major-league pitcher Tommy John, who was Ken’s teammate with the Chicago White Sox in 1967 and ’68. The two became good friends and Ken would invite him to go quail hunting in the winter near his home in Hermann, Missouri.

Daniel Shoptaw of the Cards Conclave blog wrote a nice post about the project and the Kickstarter effort this morning. (Thank you so much to Christine at the Aaron Miles’ Fastball blog for her help in spreading the word about them!)

I’ve been working diligently on the manuscript this past week and have finished a first draft of the chapter(s) dealing with Ken’s minor-league seasons at Lebanon and Omaha, as well as what I know so far about his military service. This week, I will start working on his season with the Houston Buffaloes of the Double-A Texas League. It was his performance at Houston that convinced the Cardinals he could be their starting third baseman in 1955–and for years to come.

UPDATE: While writing this post, a $75 pledge was made to bring the total to $2,039.14! Only $460.86 left to go in 59 hours.

2nd UPDATE: A $15 pledge has brought the total up to $2,054.14! Only $445.86 left in 58 hours.

Ken Boyer Book Update 01.11.13

ken_boyer_1961_cardsSo far, so good.

I’ve committed to blogging about my progress on what has become known in my household as “The Boyer Book,” so I’ll do my best to give a report at least once a week throughout the year.

I’ve done quite a bit of writing this week on Ken Boyer’s teenage seasons in the Cardinal Junior League (See last week’s post for details) almost to the point that he is signed by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1949. I’m looking forward to writing about his first minor league season with the Lebanon Chix of the Class D PONY League. I had the opportunity to interview Robert Moscrey, who played second base and batted leadoff for the Chix, about his memories of the team, his manager Hal Contini, and Boyer himself.  He couldn’t remember very much about Boyer (after all, it was almost 64 years ago!) as they were teammates for only a month or so toward the end of the ’49 season. Mr. Moscrey did make a very interesting comment that should be useful later in Ken’s story. I’m hoping to get in touch with one more former Chix teammate, too.

One hurdle that I have is acquiring microfilm from the cities where Ken played in the minor leagues–Hamilton, Ontario; Omaha, Nebraska; and Houston–that I need to tell about that part of his career. Another is microfilm for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat. If any baseball researchers or Ken Boyer fans live in or near these cities and might be able to do some legwork at the library and find some articles for me, please contact me.

Next week, I’m looking forward to a few more interviews with former teammates!

You can also follow my progress on my Facebook page.

Ken Boyer Book Update 01.05.13

ken_boyer_1965_cardsAt least once a week, I’m try to update everyone on my progress with the proposed biography of Ken Boyer.

After two years (on and off) gathering materials–books, interviews, newspaper articles–I’ve begun actually writing the book. I’m starting at the beginning with his childhood in Jasper County, Missouri and playing baseball for the Alba Aces. The Aces were similar to an American Legion team. They played in the Cardinal Junior League, a 10-15 year old boys league started in 1940 (later expanded to include 17-year-old as well). It began with teams from small communities in northwest Jasper County–Alba, Cossville, Neck City–and over the decade, teams were added from nearby Joplin and other communities in the tri-state region of Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma. The Baxter Springs Whiz Kids from neighboring Kansas joined the league in 1946; two years later, Mickey Mantle was playing shortstop for the Whiz Kids as Kenton Boyer manned the same position for Alba. I’ve been lucky enough to gather enough information about the Alba Aces and the Cardinal Junior League that I’m able to write quite a bit about it for the first chapter.

Meanwhile, I’ve contacted several of Ken’s former teammates with the Cardinals and am arranging interviews with them this month. I even managed to find one of his teammates on his first professional team, the Lebanon Chix of the Class D PONY League. It’ll be interesting to hear his prospective, having known Ken when he was just starting his career–and was a pitcher no less who knew very little about it except that he threw hard!

I’ve also been able to acquire a few photographs of him when he played in the Cardinals’ minor leagues, and I’m working on acquiring a few others too.

My goal is to complete writing later this year and publish the book in 2014, which will be the 50th anniversary of Ken’s 1964 MVP season and the Cardinals’ World championship over the New York Yankees.

You can also follow my progress on my Facebook page.

A Lengthy Hiatus

It’s been a long year to be sure, and I for one am ready for 2012 to be in the books and lost in the “discard” stacks.

Many apologies for the lack of blog posts over the past several months. When things go wrong in one’s personal life, many interests tend to fall by the wayside, and this blog was no exception. (In fact, I had started a modest blog on baseball card collecting on Jan. 31–another one of my passions–that was also a casualty in the wayside department.)  It’s been a trying year both personally and professionally. The company which I worked for folded early on, leaving me among the millions of other Americans seeking employment. Job opportunities in my fields of experience and interest have been few.

In the meantime, I started a small publishing business called BrayBree Publishing. In addition to reprinting my previous titles, I also published a well-researched book of local interest on the robbery of the Union Bank of Tennessee in Jackson and the murder of its clerk in 1859. It’s very much a niche company specializing in books on Tennessee history, so sales have been meager thus far.

Once I added some new material to a previously published biography of Adam Huntsman and republished it this fall, I found myself looking for a new writing project. I have a few different subjects in mind, but I haven’t fully committed to one yet.

I intend to write more posts about my writing projects, interests, and random musings as 2012 closes. There will be a few speaking engagements this winter and spring which I’ll announce in the coming weeks.  Thank you to everyone who has supported my books over the past year!