April 30, 1948
If he wasn’t the manager, he’d still be the manager’s favorite player.
Lou Boudreau, the player, is tough to keep out of the lineup, and so far this season, he’s tough to keep off the base paths as well. During the last two Indians games, Boudreau has been on base 11 of his last 13 plate appearances. Yesterday, he was a triple shy of hitting for the cycle, smashing four hits in five at-bats. Monday, he was a home run shy of the same feat, with five hits and two walks in eight plate appearances.
In only six games of the young season, Boudreau is hitting .519 with 14 hits in 27 at-bats. While it seems like a small sample size, Boudreau has been hitting since the team assembled for exhibition play six weeks ago. He’s hitting over .400 since exhibition play began in early March.
What’s more impressive is that the Tribe’s player-manager rarely leaves the field. Boudreau handles all the responsibilities of running the team, while producing on the field. Despite owner Bill Veeck’s interest in trading him last offseason, Boudreau had his best season as a big leaguer last year, hitting .307 with four home runs, 67 RBI and a league-leading 45 doubles. His best season was good enough to finish third in the American League voting for Most Valuable Player.
Boudreau missed only four games all of last season, while producing his career-best season. His ability to stay on the field is remarkable, considering his aging knees and ankles that often are iced before and after games, earning the nickname, “Old Shufflefoot.” To date, Boudreau has not missed an out of the 1948 season.
Veeck’s interest in trading Boudreau wasn’t to move the player to another town, but to move the manager. Boudreau and the Indians have struggled since he became manager in 1942. Veeck hoped to deal him to St. Louis so that he could hire a manager of his choosing. Instead, the manager is having the best start of his career, too. The Tribe remains the only undefeated team in either major league and has a two game lead over the rest of the American League. They are slated to wrap up their road trip in St. Louis today before riding home to take on the Detroit Tigers on Saturday and Sunday at the stadium.
A strong manager and a run-producing shortstop who never leaves the field are two important elements to a championship winning team.
Lucky for the Indians, they have that all wrapped up into one.
Photo: Cleveland Memory Project