Roger Maris, Clete Boyer and Other KC Friends Helped the 1961 Yankees Win
Right fielder Roger Maris, third baseman Cletis Boyer, left fielders Hector Lopez and Bob Cerv, utility infielder Joe DeMaestri, pitching ace Ralph Terry and spot starter Leo "Bud" Daley all played for Kansas City just before joining the Yankees. Maris, Boyer, Terry and Daley played significant roles on the 1961 Yankees' team.
Roger Maris joined the Yankees in 1960. He batted .283, hit 39 home runs, led the league with 112 RBI and was voted the American League's Most Valuable Player.
In 1961, Maris set the single-season home run record with 61, drove home 141 runs and again won the Most Valuable Player Award. He also led the league by scoring 132 runs.
Clete Boyer was the greatest defensive third baseman in Yankees' history. He was even better than Graig Nettles.
The Yankees sent seven players to the Athletics on June 4, 1957, in exchange for six players, including Boyer. In 1959, Boyer appeared in 47 games with the Yankees and became a regular the following season. It was Boyer's great defense at third base that helped Whitey Ford win the opening game of the 1961 World Series.
Hector Lopez joined the Yankees in 1959—the season in which their streak of four consecutive pennants was snapped by the Chicago White Sox. The right-handed batting Lopez was a solid hitter with decent power, especially to right field, which was the opposite field for him. In 1959, he hit .283 with 16 home runs and was one of the few bright spots of the season.
Bob Cerv shared the left-field duties with Lopez, and since he was no longer the regular catcher, also with Yogi Berra. Cerv provided needed power from the right side of the plate and had even more power to the opposite field than Lopez. Cerv was a good pinch-hitter, but like Lopez and Berra, was merely adequate on defense.
Joe DeMaestri was a good field, no-hit utility player who helped the Yankees in the late innings when they had a lead, and manager Casey Stengel needed a defensive replacement. He appeared in only 30 games in 1961 with a mere six hits in 41 at-bats.
The Yankees signed Ralph Terry in 1953, traded him to Kansas City in 1957 and traded for him in 1959. It was Terry that gave up Bill Mazeroski's home run that ended the 1960 World Series, but it was also Terry that shut out the San Francisco Giants in the seventh game of the 1962 World Series. Terry won 16 and lost only three for the 1961 team.
Finally, Leo "Bud" Daley became a Yankee just before the June 15 trading deadline in 1961. He provided help as both a starter and long-relief pitcher, winning eight games. Daley came in for Terry in the fifth game of the 1961 World Series and received the win as the Yankees beat the Cincinnati Reds in five games.
The 1961 Yankees had many home-grown stars such as Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Tony Kubek, Elston Howard, Bill Stafford, Bobby Richardson and Bill Skowron, but the contributions of their teammates from Kansas City were vital.
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