Lou Boudreau holds a special place in the history of the Cleveland Indians, and for the city of Cleveland in general. The last time the Indians won the World Series was 1948, and they were led by their player manager Lou Boudreau. During his 15 year career, Boudreau hit .295, with 68 home runs, 385 doubles, 796 walks against 309 strikeouts. He was a seven time All Star, led the American League in doubles three times, led all American league shortstops in fielding percentage eight times, won the 1944 batting title with a .327 average, and was named the 1948 American League Most Valuable Player.
Boudreau’s successful playing career overlapped with his managerial career. He acted as the player-manager for the Indians from 1942 to 1950 and with the Boston Red Sox in 1952. In all, Boudreau managed for 16 seasons. In addition to his time as the player-manager with the Indians and the 1952 season with the Red Sox, he continued manage the Red Sox until 1954. After his stint in Boston, Boudreau manager the Kansas City Athletics for three seasons between 1955 and 1957, and finished his career in 1960 with the Chicago Cubs. He finished his managerial career with 1,162 wins against 1,224 loses.
The 1948 season saw Boudreau lead the Indians to American League pennant and capture the World Series title. Individually Boudreau won the Most Valuable Player award, after batting .355 (second to Ted Williams‘ .369, Stan Musial led all Major League batters with a .376 average), with 199 hits, 18 home runs, 106 RBI, 34 doubles, with 98 walks against 9 strikeouts.
Boudreau’s legacy can still be seen across Major League Baseball today as he introduced what became known as the Boudreau Shift. In order to combat the pull hitting of Ted Williams, Boudreau shifted his defense to take away holes in the defense which Williams would otherwise exploit.
Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1970, Lou Boudreau left a lasting legacy on baseball. He holds a special place in the hearts of all Indians fans and all baseball fans can see his impact as defenses shift when pull hitters come to the plate. Lou Boudreau more than earned his place as the fourth greatest Jewish baseball player of all time.