Teams: Cleveland Indians, 1938-1950; Boston Red Sox, 1951-1952
Manager: Cleveland Indians, 1942-1950; Boston Red Sox, 1952-1954; Kansas City Athletics, 1955-1957; Chicago Cubs, 1960
Managerial Record: 1,162-1,224
Many argue that no decade in this century has had more great shortstops than the 1940s. Of the great ones, Lou Boudreau is rated the best by most analysts.
Louis Boudreau (1917-2001) grew up in Harvey, Illinois, and was a three-time all-state basketball player. He played basketball and baseball for the University of Illinois in 1936 and '37. The Indians signed him to an agreement in 1938, and Big Ten Conference officials ruled Lou ineligible. He joined the Indians' Cedar Rapids farm club that year and also played pro basketball.
Lou Boudreau and three members of the Tribe's 1948 championship team.
From left to right: Joe Gordon, Bob Lemon, Lou Boudreau, and Gene Bearden.
In 1939, Boudreau was in Cleveland to stay. In 1940, his initial year as a regular, he hit .295 and drove in 101 runs. The next season he topped the AL in doubles. In 1944, Lou copped the AL bat crown and seemed headed for a repeat win the next season before a broken ankle sidelined him.
Before the 1942 campaign, although just age 24, Lou applied for and was given the Cleveland manager's post, thus becoming the youngest skipper to open the season at the helm of a major-league team. Known as the "Boy Manager," Boudreau quickly showed he was mature beyond his years. Among his many leadership qualities were a remarkable self-confidence and a willingness to experiment.
Boudreau created the famous "Williams Shift" in 1946 to combat lefty pull-hitter Ted Williams. Lou moved to the right side of second base, challenging Ted to hit the other way. Lou also moved the strong-armed Bob Lemon from third base to the pitcher's mound.
When Bill Veeck took over as Cleveland owner in 1946, he at first wanted Boudreau to give up the manager's reins and concentrate solely on playing. The torrential protests of Cleveland fans made Veeck reconsider. His change of mind paid off when the Indians won the world championship in 1948. The 1948 AL MVP, Lou hit .355 during the regular season, and in a playoff game he belted two homers.
Owing to weak ankles, Boudreau was one of the slowest infielders in the game, and he had a mediocre arm. Lou was so thoroughly schooled, however, that he almost never errored on a routine play and had an unerring sense of anticipation. Between 1940 and 1948, Boudreau led the AL in fielding every year but one.
Released by Cleveland in 1950, Lou signed with the Red Sox as a player, and took over in the BoSox dugout in 1952. He later managed the Athletics and the Cubs. He then became a longtime fixture in the Cubs' broadcast booth. Boudreau was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1970.
Here are Lou Boudreau's major league totals:
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