BOUDREAU, LOUIS "LOU" (17 July 1917-10 August 2001) was a hall of fame player and manager for the CLEVELAND INDIANS.
Boudreau was born in Harvey, Illinois, to Louis and Birdie (Henry) Boudreau. He graduated from Thornton Township High School and enrolled at the University of Illinois, where he played baseball and basketball. He won a Big Ten basketball title with the Illini, and was a basketball All-American. Boudreau played professional basketball briefly for the Hammond (Indiana) Ciesar All-Americans, where his teammates included future UCLA coach John Wooden.
Indians scout Cy Slapnicka signed Boudreau as a third baseman, and he made his major league debut in 1938, appearing in one game for the Indians. Boudreau switched positions and by 1940 was the Indians’ everyday shortstop.
Following the 1941 season, manager Roger Peckinpaugh was promoted to general manager, and Boudreau lobbied hard to become the Indians’ player manager. Boudreau debuted as manager in 1942, and remained with the team throughout WORLD WAR II (playing basketball had led to arthritic ankles for Boudreau, making him ineligible for military service).
In 1946, Boudreau devised a shift against Ted Williams, stacking the right side of the field and leaving the left practically empty. Following the 1947 season, new Indians owner BILL VEECK floated the idea of trading Boudreau, but didn’t do so. (He noted a fan outcry against the move.)
Boudreau had an MVP season in 1948 as the Indians beat the Red Sox in a tiebreaker game to win the pennant, and then beat the Boston Braves in six games in the WORLD SERIES. Following the 1950 season, Boudreau was fired as manager and released as a player. He signed with the Red Sox, managed at the time by Steve O’Neil. Boudreau succeeded O’Neil as Red Sox manager in 1952. He played his final four games that season as well, but served solely as manager for the Red Sox in 1953 and 1954.
After being fired as Red Sox manager, Boudreau was hired to manage the Athletics, who had just moved from Philadelphia to Kansas City. He was fired in August 1957, and auditioned to become a commentator for the Cubs on WGN. He was hired as part of the broadcast crew until 1960, when he swapped places with manager Charlie Grimm for one season, in which the Cubs finished in last place in the National League. Boudreau then returned to the broadcast booth, where he would be a part of Cubs broadcasts until 1987. At WGN, he also did pre- and post-game interviews for Blackhawks hockey games, and even put his basketball background to use calling games of Chicago’s new basketball team in the 1960s, the Chicago Bulls.
Boudreau married Della DeRuiter, a high school classmate, in 1938. They remained married until her death in 1999. They had two sons, Louis and James, and two daughters, Sharyn and Barbara. (Sharyn married Major League pitcher Denny McLain.) Lou and Della had 10 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.
Boudreau was inducted into the Indians’ team hall of fame in 1954, and elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1970. Also that year, his number 5 was retired by the Indians. In 2017, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame at the University of Illinois, for his prowess in baseball and basketball, and his number was retired. A statue of Boudreau outside PROGRESSIVE FIELD was also unveiled that year.
Last updated: 5/30/2023