Lou Boudreau broke into the big leagues with the Indians in 1938 and was a regular two seasons later. In his first season as an everyday player, the shortstop hit .295, knocked in 101 runs, and was named to the All Star team.
Cleveland added managerial duties to Boudreau’s plate in 1942. The 1944 American League batting champ, Boudreau led the junior circuit in doubles in 1941, ’44, and ’47. In 1946 he set the still-standing Major League record when he doubled in four consecutive at bats on July 14.
Every year of the 1940s Boudreau received votes in MVP balloting. During the 10-year run he had eight top-10 finishes and two top-3 finishes.
Boudreau’s shining season as both a player and as a manager came in 1948. He generated career highs in hits (199), homers (18), RBI (106), batting average (.355), total bases (299) on-base percentage (.453), and slugging percentage (.534). His 10.4 WAR was by far the best of his career. In MVP voting he received 22 or the 24 first place votes with Joe DiMaggio getting the other two.
As a manager he pushed all the right buttons. Cleveland finished with 97 wins and beat the Braves in the World Series.
Four months after earning his ring, Boudreau signed this government postcard on February 17, 1949. The ’49 season proved to be Boudreau’s last as an everyday player.
He appeared in all but 20 of the Indians’ games and posted a WAR of 3.1. Though he did receive MVP votes, he finished a distant 14th behind Boston’s Ted Williams.
In 1950 Boudreau hit .269 in 81 games. The Indians released him a month after the season ended, ending his time in Cleveland. He was out of a job for all of six days before Boston signed him to a contract. His 15-year American League playing career concluded with the Red Sox in 1952.
Boudreau was named the Boston skipper for the ’52 season and remained at the helm through the ’54 campaign.
In ’55 the woeful Kansas City Athletics tabbed him to pilot their club. He lasted two full seasons and part of a third, posting a 151-260 record before being fired.
The Cubs soon offered Illinois native Boudreau a spot in the broadcast booth for ’58. He remained there until switching places with Chicago skipper Charlie Grimm early in 1960. In his final managerial job, Boudreau guided the Cubs to a 54-83 record.
He returned to announcing in ’61 and enjoyed a career spanning three decades as the color man. When his contract was not renewed in 1988, Boudreau left the game for good at age 71.
Cooperstown recognized his playing career when it opened its doors to Boudreau in 1970. He remained in Illinois for the rest of his days. The baseball lifer passed away at age 84 in 2001.
Though his autograph is plentiful, examples from his playing days are difficult to find.