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Clete Boyer, at 70; 3d baseman for Yanks was brilliant fielder

NEW YORK -- Clete Boyer, the third baseman for the champion New York Yankees teams of the 1960s who made an art form of diving stops and throws from his knees, died yesterday. He was 70.

Mr. Boyer died in an Atlanta hospital from complications of a brain hemorrhage, his son-in-law Todd Gladden said.

"He wanted to be cremated, and he wanted his ashes to go in a Yankee urn," Gladden said.

Mr. Boyer played from 1955 to 1971 with the Yankees, the Kansas City Athletics, and Atlanta. He helped the Yankees reach the World Series in five straight years from 1960 to 1964, when they won two titles.

His death came on the 50th anniversary of the day he joined the Yankees, completing a dozen-player trade between New York and the A's.

"He was a great Yankee and a tough guy," Yankees owner George Steinbrenner said through a spokesman. "He never talked too much, but he was extremely hard-working, a wonderful third baseman, and had fire in his belly."

In 1964, Mr. Boyer and his brother, Ken, became the first brothers to homer in the same World Series game. They did it in Game 7, when the St. Louis Cardinals won. Ken, also a third baseman, was the NL MVP that season. Ken Boyer died in 1982 at age 51.

The Boyer family included another brother who played in the majors, Cloyd, who pitched from 1949 to 1955. There were 14 children in the Boyer family.

Cletus Leroy Boyer was a career .242 hitter with 162 home runs and 654 RBIs. Decent stats, but it was fielding that became his signature.

Mr. Boyer added an air of flamboyance to a Yankees team that otherwise played with a conservative precision. His only Gold Glove came in 1969 in Atlanta; he might have earned more if it had not been for the peerless Brooks Robinson.

"In all my years of playing with him, he only made one bad throw to me," former Yankees second baseman Bobby Richardson said by telephone from his home in South Carolina.

"When I made the double play, I could just about close my eyes, put my glove up, and the ball would be there," he said. "I would consider him one of the best players defensively. And when we got in the World Series and the lights came up, he made those great, great plays."

After finishing with the Braves, Clete Boyer played in Japan. He later coached under Billy Martin with Oakland and the Yankees.

Mr. Boyer was part of an exceptional Yankees infield in the 1960s that included Richardson, shortstop Tony Kubek, and first basemen Moose Skowron.

Richardson said he was with Mr. Boyer last month in New York for a reunion of the 1961 Yankees infield.

The Yankees beat Cincinnati in the 1961 World Series. Mr. Boyer's best Series performance was in 1962, when he hit .318 with a home run and four RBIs in the seven-game victory over San Francisco.

"I got a lot of rings by him playing third base," said Skowron, who works in community relations for the Chicago White Sox. "When we played Cincinnati, he made those great plays. He threw a couple of balls to me; he was on his knees. He was a hell of a glove man."

Richardson praised Mr. Boyer's other attributes. "I would give him a lot of credit for being a good number eight hitter. It wasn't easy in those days, with the pitcher hitting behind you," Richardson said. "He was a team player and a great teacher.

"He was a hard liver, I don't think that's any secret," he said. "He lived life to the fullest."