Lou Boudreau Jr was born on July 11, 1917 in Harvey, Illinois and went to Thornton Township High School, a school without a baseball team. Lou instead, became a very good basketball player, an excellent passer and playmaker. In 1936, he entered the University of Illinois, where he majored in physical education and captained both the basketball and baseball teams. Boudreau led Illinois to the Big Ten basketball title in 1937, and was a 1938 All-American. As a college baseball player he averaged about .270 and .285.
The Cubs and Indians both pursued Lou and also fielded offers to act in a movie and to play for $150 a game with Caesarís All-Americans, a Hammond, Indiana, team in the National Basketball League, a forerunner of the NBA. Lou decided to sign with the Indians.
The Indians assigned him to a Class C club in the Western Association in 1938. He sat on the bench for a week and then was shipped to Cedar Rapids in the Class B Three-I League. After hitting .290 in 60 games, the third baseman was called up to the Indians.
In 1939, Lou trained with the Indians in New Orleans but was advised to work at shortstop, because young Ken Keltner looked to have a lock on third base. Lou batted went back to the minors and after hitting .331 with 17 homers, earned an August recall to the parent club. He played 53 games at shortstop for the Indians in 1939 and batted .258.
In 1940, Lou had a good season, batting .295 and defensively he led all shortstops in the American League. The Indians didnít win the pennant that year, losing to Detroit by one game. The Indians nor Lou fared as well as in 1940. A search was underway for a new manager after the season and Lou sent a letter requesting an interview. The directors finally agreed on him, backing him up with a staff of older and more experienced coaches. But not all of the Indians, who were experienced veterans, were happy with the choice for their new young manager.
Soon after Louís hiring, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Two days later Bob Feller joined the Navy, and Lou, like his counterparts on the other teams, spent the next four years not knowing who their players were going to be. Without Feller, the 1942 Indians were 28 games behind the Yankees and Lou batted .283. Though he was still learning, he proved able to manage the club and still play good ball at shortstop.
The 1943 club finished 15 1/2 games out of first place at seasonís end and Lou batted .286 and led all league shortstops in fielding, making his fourth All-Star team. In 1944, the Indians slumped, though Lou personally had a fine season, leading league batters at .327. The next season he suffered a broken ankle and more importantly, the war ended in late summer.
With all the stars now returned to baseball in 1946, the fans turned out en masse. As usual Ted Williams was tearing up the league and Lou came up with the famous "Williams Shift".
The Indians made history in 1947 by signing the American Leagueís first black ballplayer, Larry Doby. Lou tried to make Dobyís joining the team as painless as possible.
Lou was upbeat about the 1948 season but knew he had to produce a winner or his tenure as manager would be up. He experienced some hard times during the Ď48 campaign. Owner Bill Veeck had brought Hank Greenberg into the Indians organization to serve as his right-hand man and confidant and they were always questioning his moves. At the conclusion of the 1948 schedule the Indians and the Red Sox were tied for first place and in the one game playoff, Boudreau took matters into his own hands. He had a 4-for-4 performance that included two homers and the Indians triumphed 8-3. The Indians capped off their season beating the Boston Braves and winning the World Series in six games. During this incredible season, Lou had a .355 average, all while guiding his team as manager and was voted the Most Valuable Player in the American League.
Still, when the Indians failed to repeat in 1949, Lou knew his time was coming to an end. His last season in Cleveland was 1950. In November, the Indians released him after 12 years as a player and nine as manager.
The Red Sox acquired him in 1951 as a utility infielder. Playing in 82 games, he batted .267, with five homers and 47 runs batted in. After the 1951 season, the Red Sox named Lou as their manager. He played four games for the club in 1952, but was a bench-manager for the rest of his career.
He managed the Red Sox from 1952 through 1954, an event-filled period for the franchise. The team had spent a lot of money on amateur players in recent years, and Lou presided over the transition. Bobby Doerr had recently retired, Johnny Pesky and Vern Stephens were traded, and Ted Williams spent most of two seasons in the Marines In the spring of 1953 center fielder Dom DiMaggio suffered an eye injury.
Lou chose to move promising rookie Jimmie Piersall from the outfield to shortstop in 1952, a shift that Piersall later claimed led to bizarre behavioral problems and eventual nervous breakdown. When Piersall recovered, Lou kept him in the outfield, and Piersall played another 15 seasons. Though the Red Sox posted a surprising 84-69 record in 1953, their regression the next year led to Louís dismissal.
After being fired by the Red Sox in 1954, he got a job as manager of the Kansas City Athletics and lasted three years. He was fired in August 1957, but not long after, Jack Brickhouse approached Lou about being the color man for the Chicago Cubs broadcast team.
For over two years Lou was the Cubs color man, but by 1960, he was back managing for the team. A poor team, the Cubs finished in last place 35 games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 1961, Lou was back in the broadcasting booth. He was a part of the Cubs broadcast team for 30 years. When the station chose not to pick up his contract for the 1988 season, he was 71 years old, and finally retired, after having been a player, manager, and broadcaster for 50 years.
In 1970, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. That same year, his uniform number #5 was retired by the Indians. In 1973, the city renamed a street bordering Cleveland Municipal Stadium after Boudreau. In 1990, the Indians established "The Lou Boudreau Award", which is given every year to the organization's Minor League Player of the Year.
Lou Boudreau had a heart attack and passed away at age 84, on August 10, 2001, at St. James Medical Center in Olympia Fields, Illinois on August 10, 2001.