Lou BoudreauLouis Boudreau
Inducted to the Hall of Fame in: 1970
Primary team: Cleveland Indians
Primary position: Shortstop
“This is reaching the top. That’s what we all strive for no matter what profession we’re in. I feel that my life is fulfilled now.” Lou Boudreau on his induction to the Hall of Fame
Lou Boudreau did it all in baseball—he played, managed, and broadcast. He was an excellent defensive shortstop and a punchy hitter. After one game in 1938 and 53 games in 1939, Boudreau became the Indians regular shortstop in 1940, hitting .295, driving in 101 runs, and leading the AL in fielding percentage for the first of ten consecutive seasons.
In 1942, the Indians shocked the baseball world by hiring their 24-year-old shortstop as a player-manager. Boudreau would continue in that role through 1950. In 1946, he devised the “Williams Shift,” sometimes known as the “Boudreau Shift,” placing all of the infielders on the right side of second base and leaving only the left-fielder across the diamond, in an attempt to stop the pull-hitting Ted Williams. Williams obstinately continued to pull the ball, and acknowledged that the shift hurt him. Williams did hit an inside-the-park homer in the game that clinched the 1946 pennant for Boston.
Few players (or managers) ever had a better season than Boudreau did in 1948. “That year, Lou Boudreau was the greatest shortstop and leader I have ever seen,” said Hall-of-Famer Bill McKechnie, a coach with the club. The Indians went 97-58, while Boudreau hit .355 with 106 rbi, a career-high 18 home runs, and struck out only 9 times in 560 at-bats.
The Indians and the Red Sox finished the regular season tied, necessitating a one-game playoff at Fenway Park, in which Boudreau went 4 for 4—homering twice. The Indians went on to beat the Braves in the World Series, and Boudreau picked up the AL Most Valuable Player Award.
Boudreau moved to the Red Sox for the 1951 season, and was a player manager for the club in 1952, his final season as a player. He managed the Sox for two more seasons, before taking over the Kansas City Athletics from 1955-57.
In 1958, he moved to the radio booth for WGN and the Chicago Cubs. In 1960, he was involved in a most unusual “trade,” switching places with Cubs manager Charlie Grimm. Grimm went up to the radio booth, while Boudreau took over as manager. In 1961, he was back on the airwaves, where he remained with the Cubs until 1988. Boudreau was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1970.
“He had terrific instincts and was a great competitor," said his Hall-of-Fame teammate Bob Feller. “As a player-manager, he became so good that he went as far as calling pitches from shortstop. He was always thinking, always in the game.”
Year Inducted: 1970
Primary Team: Cleveland Indians
Position Played: Shortstop
Birth place: Harvey, Illinois
Birth year: 1917
Died: 2001, Olympia Fields, Illinois
Cleveland Indians (1938-1950)
Boston Red Sox (1951-1952)
Cleveland Indians (1942-1950)
Boston Red Sox (1952-1954)
Kansas City Athletics (1955-1957)
Chicago Cubs (1960)
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