Monday, February 22, 2010

#25 Lou Boudreau

Lou Boudreau was born in Harvey, Illinois in 1917. His mother was Jewish, his father was of French descent. A natural athlete as well as scholar, Boudreau attended the University of Illinois and chose to persue athletics as a career. He played professional basketball for a few years in the National Basketball League, but signed with the Cleveland Indians in 1937 and debuted a year later.
A fine hitter and fielder, Boudreau quickly assumed the shortstop role, and became the leader of the Indians on the field. It wasn't long before he became the leader in the dugout, too. In 1942, at the mere age of 24, Boudreau was named manager of the Tribe after Roger Peckinpaugh was promoted to General Manager.
Classified as 4-F by the US Draft Board due to arthritic ankles, Boudreau remained stateside during World War 2 and was one of the American League's premier players. He won the batting title in 1944 with a .327 average and finished 6th in the MVP voting. He did not have a drop-off after the war, and in 1948, had one of the best seasons a man has ever had in the history of the game. Aside from managing Cleveland to their second (and as I write this, last) World Series title, he batted .355 with 18 home runs and was voted the AL Most Valuable Player. By 1950, his problems with his legs took their toll, and depsite a 92-62 record he was both fired as manager and released as a player by Cleveland. He signed the Red Sox in 1951, and played sparingly. He was named manager in 1952 but only played in 4 games, the final ones of his career. He stayed on as manager of the Red Sox until 1954, and then moved to three unsuccessful years at the healm of the Kansas City Athletics. He became the Cubs radio announcer in 1958, but swapped gigs with the Cubs manager Charlie Grimm in 1960. He returned to the radio booth in 1961, where he remained a fixture until 1987.
Boudreau was elected into Baseball's Hall of Fame in 1970. His daughter Sharyn married Denny McLain, who would win two Cy Young Awards for the Detroit Tigers in the 60's. Boudreau wrote an autobiography in the mid-90's, and in August of 2001, he died of complications of an infection and diabetes.

The Autograph: Boudreau's autograph is one of the most common Hall of Fame autographs around. He was always a great signer.

Lou and his wife before a game in 1948

Lou at an old-timers game

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