Lou Boudreau, Hall of Fame Cleveland Indians shortstop and manager

Louis Boudreau, Jr. was born July 17, 1917 in Harvey, Illinois. A talented athlete, Lou attended the University of Illinois as both a baseball and basketball letterman. While still in school, Lou was offered a contract with the Cleveland Indians upon his graduation. Since the contract ended his amateur eligibility and Lou couldn't attend school and play baseball at the same time, he joined the National Basketball League and played for a year in Hammond, Indiana.

After a single appearance at the end of the 1938 in which he went in as a pinch runner and was promptly picked off, Lou was called up in late August of 1939 to replace the injury-prone Skeeter Webb as the Indians shortstop. Although he only batted .258, he won the starting job for the next year.

In 1940, Lou batted .295 and played in every single one of the team's 155 games. He even managed to collect 101 RBIs, the only player on the team to reach triple digits. He was also named to his first All-Star Game, a feat he would repeat in 7 of the next 8 seasons. He also finished fifth in the Most Valuable Player voting, a rather laudable result considering it was only his first full year in the bigs.

From 1941 to 1947, Lou was one of the league's better hitters and certainly the American League's most consistent shortstop. He topped .300 three times, capturing the batting title in 1944 with a .327 clip. He also proved he had a bit of pop in his 5'11" frame, leading the league in doubles three times - hitting 45 two-baggers each time. Most of all, though, Lou proved himself as one of the best fielders in the game, constantly finishing atop the league in assists, fielding percentage, and double plays.

In addition to being one of Cleveland's best batters, Lou was named manager of the team in 1942 at the age of 24 - the youngest manager in the league. Nicknamed "The Good Kid", Lou showed intelligence in the dugout and on the field. He famously created the "Boudreau Shift" to combat Ted Williams, shifting 6 of his fielders into right field to stop the slugging lefty. Yet in spite of his on-the-field heroics and behind-the-scenes dynamics, the Indians never managed to win the pennant, suffering the dominant New York Yankees and two wartime years of the awesome Detroit Tigers.

At the beginning of the 1948 season, it was announced that the Indians intended to fire Lou. Letters of support poured in for The Kid, and eventually management relented. Later, owner Bill Veeck would remark, "Sometimes the best moves are the ones you don't make." That year, Lou and the Tribe struck gold. Lou had his best season ever, achieving career highs in home runs (18), RBIs (106), and batting average (.355), while leading the team to a tie with the Boston Red Sox at the end of the season. The two teams faced off in a one-game playoff to decide the pennant. Lou saved the best for last, lacing two singles and blasting two home runs to lead his team to an 8-3 victory and a trip to the World Series against the Boston Braves, where the team easily scratched out a 6 game victory.

In 1950, Veeck, who had never shown much love for Boudreau, unceremoniously fired Lou after a 4th-place finish. Lou's former rivals the Red Sox immediately picked up the great shortstop for a 2-year deal. Unfortunately, Lou's shoulder flared up constantly, and he only played 86 games for the Red Sox before retiring for good. He remained with the team to manage from 1952 to 1954, never finishing higher than 4th in the league.

In 1955, Lou was picked up by the Kansas City Athletics to manage, but spent three subpar seasons there before retiring to become a broadcaster for the Chicago Cubs. In 1960, though, he was once again called into the dugout, replacing Charlie Grimm just 17 games into the season. Lou didn't fare much better, and retired back to the broadcast booth at the season's end.

For his successful years in the field and his impressive managerial record, Lou was elected into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in 1970. The same year, the Indians retired his number 5 jersey for good, a tribute to one of their greatest stars. He retired from broadcasting in 1975. The Good Kid passed away August 10, 2001 in Frankfort, Illinois.

Career Statistics Batting:

YEAR   TEAM    G   AB   R    H  2B 3B HR RBI SB CS  BB  SO   BA
1938 CLE AL    1    1   0    0   0  0  0   0  0  0   1   0 .000
1939 CLE AL   53  225  42   58  15  4  0  19  2  1  28  24 .258
1940 CLE AL  155  627  97  185  46 10  9 101  6  3  73  39 .295
1941 CLE AL  148  579  95  149  45  8 10  56  9  4  85  57 .257
1942 CLE AL  147  506  57  143  18 10  2  58  7 16  75  39 .283
1943 CLE AL  152  539  69  154  32  7  3  67  4  7  90  31 .286
1944 CLE AL  150  584  91  191  45  5  3  67 11  3  73  39 .327
1945 CLE AL   97  345  50  106  24  1  3  48  0  4  35  20 .307
1946 CLE AL  140  515  51  151  30  6  6  62  6  7  40  14 .293
1947 CLE AL  150  538  79  165  45  3  4  67  1  0  67  10 .307
1948 CLE AL  152  560 116  199  34  6 18 106  3  2  98   9 .355
1949 CLE AL  134  475  53  135  20  3  4  60  0  1  70  10 .284
1950 CLE AL   81  260  23   70  13  2  1  29  1  2  31   5 .269
1951 BOS AL   82  273  37   73  18  1  5  47  1  0  30  12 .267
1952 BOS AL    4    2   1    0   0  0  0   2  0  0   0   0 .000
     CAREER 1646 6029 861 1779 385 66 68 789 51 50 796 309 .295
* Bold denotes led league.
Managing:
YEAR   TEAM    G    W    L   PCT FINISH
1942 CLE AL  156   75   79  .487      4
1943 CLE AL  153   82   71  .536      3
1944 CLE AL  155   72   82  .468      6
1945 CLE AL  147   73   72  .503      5
1946 CLE AL  156   68   86  .442      6
1947 CLE AL  157   80   74  .519      4
1948 CLE AL  156   97   58  .626      1
1949 CLE AL  154   89   65  .578      3
1950 CLE AL  155   92   62  .597      4
1952 BOS AL  154   76   78  .494      6
1953 BOS AL  153   84   69  .549      4
1954 BOS AL  156   69   85  .448      4
1955 KCA AL  155   63   91  .409      6
1956 KCA AL  154   52  102  .338      8
1957 KCA AL  104   36   67  .350      7
1960 CHC NL  139   54   83  .394      7
     CAREER 2404 1162 1224  .487

Hall of Fame Index
Jim Bottomley | Roger Bresnahan

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