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League Park - Lou Boudreau

 

Lou

 

* Louis "Lou" Boudreau (July 17, 1917, in Harvey, Illinois – August 10, 2001) was an American Hall of Fame Major League Baseball player, and the American League MVP Award winner in 1948.

He won the 1944 AL batting title (.327), and led the league in doubles in 1941, 1944, and 1947. He led AL shortstops in fielding 8 times. He won the American League MVP Award in 1948.

After his playing and managing career, Boudreau was a popular long-time radio announcer for the Chicago Cubs of the National League.

Career

Boudreau made his Major League debut on September 9, 1938 for the Cleveland Indians, at the age of 21.

Boudreau quickly became regarded as one of the best all-round shortstops in the game, combining solid fielding with a good batting average and run production.

In 1940 he batted .295 with 9 home runs and 101 RBI (10th in the league).

One key moment came on a July night in 1941, when his young ballclub put the stopper on Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak. Boudreau himself fielded the ground ball that Joe D. hit in his last at-bat in that game.

That year he led the league in doubles with 45.

Boudreau took over managerial duties with the club in November, 1941 while remaining the club's everyday shortstop.

In 1944 he led the American League in batting with a .327 batting average and 45 doubles, and was second in the league with a .406 obp and 191 hits, and scored 91 runs (6th). He also turned over 134 double plays, which stood as a major league record for the next 26 years. Through 2006, only three shortstops turned over more double plays in a season.

On July 14, 1946, he hit 4 consecutive doubles in one game, tying a major league record that still stood as of 2007.

Each year from 1946-48 he was the most difficult ballplayer in the league to strike out, striking out only 9 times in 560 at bats in 1948.

In 1947 he led the league in doubles for the third time, and came in third in MVP voting.

In 1948, he had a .355 batting average and a .454 obp (both 2nd in the league, behind Ted Williams), a .534 slugging percentage (4th), scored 116 runs (5th in the league, and had 105 RBIs (8th). He led the Indians to a first-place tie with the Boston Red Sox, then got 4 hits in an easy win in a one-game playoff at Fenway Park, breaking the hearts of Red Sox Nation and also depriving the city of their only chance at an all-Boston World Series. The Indians went on to defeat the Boston Braves 4 games to 2 win the Series (their last Series win as of 2006).

He also had his best personal year, batting .355 (2nd in the league) with 18 home runs and 106 RBI, good enough to win the American League MVP Award.

As both shortstop and manager, he was the inventor and most ardent practitioner of the "Williams shift" (a.k.a. "Boudreau shift"), stacking all but one defensive player on the right side of the field when Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox would come to bat in certain situations.

After being traded to those same Red Sox in 1951, Boudreau played one more season and then became full-time manager of the Red Sox and the great "Teddy Ballgame" the next year. Unfortunately, the Sox were a team in decline. After three uneventful seasons in Boston, and three downright miserable seasons trying to skipper the hapless Kansas City Athletics, Boudreau hung up his managerial cap for good, or so he thought, and latched on as a color announcer for his hometown team, the Cubs.

A month or so into the 1960 season, P.K. Wrigley, the ever-innovative owner of the Cubs, made the unusual "trade" of coaxing Boudreau out of retirement to manage the ever-struggling Cubs, and moving talkative manager "Jolly Cholly" Grimm into the broadcast booth. That experiment did not work out notably well, especially on the field.

Hall of Fame and retirement of number

He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1970 1970 with 77.33% of the vote. The same year Boudreau had his # 5 retired by the Cleveland Indians.

Death

Boudreau is interred in Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Frankfort, Illinois.

* - Article by Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia