Lou Boudreau

Louis Boudreau (July 17, 1917 – August 10, 2001), nicknamed "Old Shufflefoot", "Handsome Lou", and "The Good Kid", was an American professional baseball player and manager.[1] He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for 15 seasons, primarily as a shortstop on the Cleveland Indians, and managed four teams for 15 seasons including 10 seasons as a player-manager. He was also a radio announcer for the Chicago Cubs and in college was a dual sport athlete in both baseball and earning All-American honors in basketball for the University of Illinois.

Lou Boudreau
Boudreau with the Boston Red Sox in 1953
Shortstop / Manager
Born: (1917-07-17)July 17, 1917
Harvey, Illinois, U.S.
Died: August 10, 2001(2001-08-10) (aged 84)
Olympia Fields, Illinois, U.S.
Batted: Right
Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 9, 1938, for the Cleveland Indians
Last MLB appearance
August 24, 1952, for the Boston Red Sox
MLB statistics
Batting average.295
Home runs68
Runs batted in789
Managerial record1,162–1,224
Winning %.487
As player

As manager

Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Baseball Hall of Fame
Vote77.33% (ninth ballot)
Basketball career
Personal information
Listed height5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Listed weight185 lb (84 kg)
Career information
High schoolThornton (Harvey, Illinois)
CollegeIllinois (1937–1938)
PositionGuard / Forward
Career history
As player:
1938–1939Hammond Ciesar All-Americans
As coach:
1942Illinois (asst.)
Career highlights and awards

Boudreau was an All-Star for seven seasons.[lower-alpha 1] In 1948, Boudreau won the American League Most Valuable Player Award and managed the Cleveland Indians to the World Series title. He won the 1944 American League (AL) batting title (.327), and led the league in doubles in 1941, 1944, and 1947. He led AL shortstops in fielding eight times. Boudreau still holds the MLB record for hitting the most consecutive doubles in a game (four), set on July 14, 1946.

In 1970, Boudreau was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame as a player.

Early life

Boudreau was born in Harvey, Illinois, the son of Birdie (Henry) and Louis Boudreau.[2] His father was of French ancestry, his mother was Jewish, and both of his maternal grandparents were observant Orthodox Jews with whom when he was young he celebrated Passover seders.[3][4] He was raised Catholic by his father after his parents divorced.[5][3][6][7] He graduated from Thornton Township High School in Harvey, Illinois where he led the "Flying Clouds" to three straight Illinois high school championship games, winning in 1933 and finishing as runner up in 1934 and 1935.[8]

College baseball and basketball

Boudreau in his Illinois Fighting Illini basketball jersey, circa 1937.

Boudreau attended the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, where he was a member of Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity and captain of the basketball and baseball teams. During the 1936–37 basketball and baseball seasons, Boudreau led each Fighting Illini team to a Big Ten Conference championship.[9] During the 1937–38 basketball season, Boudreau was named an NCAA Men's Basketball All-American.[9]

While still at Illinois, Cleveland Indians general manager Cy Slapnicka paid him an undisclosed sum in return for agreeing to play baseball for the Indians after he graduated. Due to this agreement, Boudreau was ruled ineligible for collegiate sports by the Big Ten Conference officials.[10][11] During his senior year at Illinois, he played professional basketball with the Hammond Ciesar All-Americans of the National Basketball League.

Despite playing professional baseball with Cleveland, Boudreau earned his Bachelor of Science in education from Illinois in 1940 and worked as the Illinois freshman basketball coach for the 1939 and 1940 teams. Boudreau stayed on as an assistant coach for the 1941–42 Illinois Fighting Illini men's basketball team and he was instrumental in recruiting future Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee Andy Phillip to play for Illinois.[9]

Professional baseball career

Cleveland Indians

Boudreau made his major league debut on September 9, 1938, for the Cleveland Indians at 21 as a third baseman in his first game. In 1939, Indian manager Ossie Vitt told him that he would have to move from his normal third base position to shortstop since established slugger Ken Keltner already had the regular third base job.[12]

In 1940, his first full year as a starter, he batted .295 with 46 doubles and 101 RBI, and was selected for the All-Star Game for the first of five consecutive seasons (MLB cancelled the 1945 game due to war-time travel restrictions and did not name All-Stars).[13]

Boudreau helped make history in 1941 as a key figure in stopping the 56-game hitting streak by Joe DiMaggio. After two sparkling stops by Keltner at third base on hard ground balls earlier in the game, Boudreau snagged a bad-hop grounder to short barehanded and started a double play retiring DiMaggio at first.[14] He finished the season with a modest .257 batting average, but had a league-leading 45 doubles.

After the 1941 season, owner Alva Bradley promoted Indians manager Roger Peckinpaugh to general manager and appointed the 25-year-old Boudreau player-manager. Boudreau played and managed the Indians throughout World War II (playing basketball had put a strain on Boudreau's ankles that turned into arthritis, which classified him as 4-F and thus ineligible for military service).[12] In 1944, Boudreau turned 134 double plays, the most ever by a player-manager in MLB history. When he bought the Indians in 1947, Bill Veeck, after being approached by Boudreau, renewed the player-manager agreement with mixed feelings on both sides. However, Boudreau hit .355 in 1948; Cleveland won the AL pennant and the World Series, the Indians first World Series championship in 28 years and only the second in Indians history, with Veeck and Boudreau publicly acknowledging each other's role in the team's success.

Later career

Boudreau was released by the Indians as both player and manager following the 1950 season. He signed with the Boston Red Sox, playing full-time in 1951, moving up to player-manager in 1952 and managing from the bench in 1953–54. He then became the first manager of the Kansas City Athletics in 1955 after their move from Philadelphia until he was fired after 104 games in 1957 and replaced by Harry Craft. He last managed the Chicago Cubs, in 1960.

Managerial record

TeamYearRegular seasonPostseason
GamesWonLostWin %FinishWonLostWin %Result
CLE1942 1547579.4874th in AL
CLE1943 1538271.5363rd in AL
CLE1944 1547282.4686th in AL
CLE1945 1457372.5035th in AL
CLE1946 1546886.4426th in AL
CLE1947 1548074.5194th in AL
CLE1948 1559758.6261st in AL42.667Won World Series (BKN)
CLE1949 1548965.5783rd in AL
CLE1950 1549262.5974th in AL
CLE total1377728649.52942.667
BOS1952 1547678.4946th in AL
BOS1953 1538469.5494th in AL
BOS1954 1546985.4484th in AL
BOS total461229232.49700
KC1955 1546193.3966th in AL
KC1956 15452102.3388th in AL
KC1957 1033667.350fired
KC total411151260.36700
CHC1960 1375483.3947th in NL
CHC total1375483.39400

Boudreau shift

Boudreau is credited with inventing the infield shift, which came to be known colloquially as the "Boudreau shift." Because slugging Red Sox superstar Ted Williams was a dead-pull hitter, he moved most of his Cleveland Indian fielders to the right of second base against the Splendid Splinter, leaving only the third baseman and left fielder to the left of second but also very close to second base, far to the right of their normal positions. With characteristic stubborn pride, Williams refused the obvious advice from teammates to hit or bunt to left against the Boudreau shift, but great hitter that he was, not changing his approach against the shift didn't affect his hitting very much.

Boudreau later admitted that the shift was more about "psyching out" Williams rather than playing him to pull. "I always considered the Boudreau shift a psychological, rather than a tactical" ploy, he declared in his autobiography Player-Manager.


Cubs broadcasters, July 13, 1965 – Vince Lloyd and Lou Boudreau

Boudreau did play-by-play for Cub games in 1958–59 before switching roles with manager "Jolly Cholly" Charlie Grimm in 1960. But after only one season as Cubs manager, Boudreau returned to the radio booth and remained there until 1987. He also did radio play-by-play for the Chicago Bulls in 1966–1968 and worked on Chicago Blackhawks games for WGN radio and television as well.

The presence of a Hall of Fame announcer affected at least one game. On June 23, 1976, the Cubs were two runs behind at home in the fourth inning of the second game of a doubleheader against the Pittsburgh Pirates at home when the umpires called the game on account of darkness (since there were no lights at Wrigley Field until 1988), announcing that the game would be resumed at the same point the next day as was normally the case in those days. But Boudreau knew the rules better than anyone else in the park, it turned out, for he went down quickly to the clubhouse and pointed out to the umpires that a game that was not yet an official game could not be treated as a suspended game (i.e., it had not gone five innings, or four and a half with the home team leading, as neither was the case), and as such had to be replayed from the first pitch (as was then the rule in a rain-out). The umpires called the National League office, found Boudreau was correct, and removed the two-run Cubs deficit.[16]

Later life and honors

Lou Boudreau's number 5 was retired by the Cleveland Indians in 1970.

Boudreau was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1970 with 77.33% of the vote. That same year, his uniform number 5 was retired by the Cleveland Indians (he wore number 4 with the Red Sox). In 1973, the city of Cleveland renamed a street bordering Cleveland Municipal Stadium after Boudreau.[11] Boudreau Drive in Urbana, Illinois is also named after Boudreau.

In 1990, the Cleveland Indians established The Lou Boudreau Award, which is given every year to the organization's Minor League Player of the Year.[17][18] In 1992, Boudreau's number 5 jersey was retired by the Illinois Fighting Illini baseball program. Boudreau is only one of three Illinois Fighting Illini athletes to have their number retired; the other two athletes being Illinois Fighting Illini football players Red Grange and Dick Butkus.[9][19]

Personal life

Boudreau married Della DeRuiter in 1938, and together they had four children. His daughter Sharyn married Denny McLain, a former star pitcher with the Detroit Tigers who was the last 30-game winner in the major leagues (31–6 for the world champion 1968 Detroit Tigers).

Boudreau had a home in Frankfort, Illinois, for many years. He died on August 10, 2001, due to cardiac arrest at St. James Medical Center in Olympia Fields, Illinois. He was 84. He received a Catholic funeral and his body was interred in the Pleasant Hill Cemetery.[9][20]

See also


  1. MLB cancelled the 1945 All-Star Game and did not name All-Stars that season.


  1. "Lou Boudreau Stats". Baseball-Reference.com.
  2. Porter, D.L. (2000). Biographical Dictionary of American Sports: A-F. Greenwood Press. p. 129. ISBN 9780313311741. Retrieved September 13, 2015.
  3. Ruttman, Larry (1 April 2013). American Jews and America's Game: Voices of a Growing Legacy in Baseball. U of Nebraska Press. ISBN 9780803264755 via Google Books.
  4. Horvitz, P.S.; Horvitz, J. (2001). The Big Book of Jewish Baseball. S.P.I. Books. p. 248. ISBN 9781561719730. Retrieved September 13, 2015.
  5. Chafets, Zev (1 July 2009). Cooperstown Confidential: Heroes, Rogues, and the Inside Story of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. p. 104 via Internet Archive. lou boudreau jewish.
  6. Horvitz, Peter S.; Horvitz, Joachim (11 May 2019). The Big Book of Jewish Baseball. SP Books. ISBN 9781561719730 via Google Books.
  7. Wisnia, Saul. "Ryan Braun and a Look at Other Jewish MVPs in MLB History". bleacherreport.com. Retrieved September 13, 2015.
  8. "100 Legends of Boys Basketball Tournament". ihsa.org. Archived from the original on December 20, 2008. Retrieved September 13, 2015.
  9. "Illini Legend, Baseball Hall of Famer Lou Boudreau Dies". University of Illinois DIA. 2001-08-21. Archived from the original on January 28, 2015. Retrieved December 11, 2014.
  10. Urban, Richard (August 20, 2001). "Boudreau stood out as a player and manager". ESPN. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
  11. Marazzi, Rich; Fiorito, Len (2009). Baseball Players of the 1950s: A Biographical Dictionary of All 1,560 Major Leaguers. McFarland. p. 40. ISBN 978-0786446889.
  12. "Ralph Berger, Baseball Biography Project, SABR.org". Bioproj.sabr.org. Retrieved January 31, 2011.
  13. Baseball Did You Know? – VII, 1945 All Star Game Replacements Retrieved July 26, 2015.
  14. "John Holway, A Mystery Man in the End to DiMaggio's Streak, New York Times, July 15, 1990". New York Times. July 15, 1990. Retrieved January 31, 2011.
  15. "Boudreau Managerial Record". Baseball Reference. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
  16. "Cubs leave Bucs in dark – Chicago Tribune Archive". archives.chicagotribune.com. June 24, 1976. Retrieved September 13, 2015.
  17. Gordon, Robert; Burgoyne, Tom (2005). Movin on Up. ISBN 9780975441930. Retrieved August 23, 2011.
  18. MLB.com. "2B Jason Kipnis named Indians Minor League Player of The Week". mlb.com. Retrieved August 23, 2011.
  19. "Baseball – Retired Number – Lou Boudreau". 2018. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
  20. "Lou Boudreau Obituary". ChicagoTribune. Retrieved September 13, 2015 via legacy.com.

Further reading

  • Boudreau, Lou (2017). Lou Boudreau: My Hall of Fame Life on the Field and Behind the Mic. ISBN 978-1683580461.
  • Lou Boudreau SABR Biography
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