Louis Boudreau (July 17, 1917 - August 10, 2001) was a Major League Baseball player and the American League MVP Award winner in 1948. After his playing and managing career, he was a long-time radio color commentator for the Chicago Cubs of the National League.
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 batting .295 with 9 home runs and 101 RBI. 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.
Boudreau took over managerial duties with the club in 1942 while remaining the club's everyday shortstop. In 1948, 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 2004). He also had his best personal year, batting .355 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. After that season, Grimm retired, Boudreau went back to the booth for good, and Wrigley began his famous (or infamous) 5-year experiment called the College of Coaches.
As a broadcaster, "The Good Kid" was kind of a mixed bag. When called upon to do play-by-play, he was a bit awkward, stumbling over difficult-to-pronounce names, such as Chris Cannizzaro which came out "Can-zah-narrow" until Chris joined the Cubs and Louie learned how to say the name correctly. Another example was Doug Rader, whom he called "RADAR". But as an analyst, on tactics of the game, he was brilliant, and his typically soft-spoken personality won him many fans during his nearly 3 decades of service with WGN (AM). His two best-known radio play-by-play partners were Jack Quinlan and Vince Lloyd. He also worked on television with Jack Brickhouse from time to time.
As a manager, Louie was often shackled with some inferior teams, and still finished with a decent overall record of 1162 wins and 1224 losses.
Boudreau is interred in Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Frankfort, Illinois.
- 7-time All-Star (1940-44, 1947-48)
- American League MVP Award winner (1948)
- Finished 3rd in American League MVP voting (1947)
- Finished 5th in American League MVP voting (1940)
- Finished 6th in American League MVP voting (1944)
- Finished 8th in American League MVP voting (1945)
- Finished 10th in American League MVP voting (1942, 1943, 1946)
- Elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1970
- Cleveland Indians (1942-1950)
- Boston Red Sox (1952-1954)
- Kansas City Athletics (1955-1957)
- Chicago Cubs (1960)