Tuesday, April 20, 2021

1986 Sportflics Decade Greats: Lou Boudreau

 Thanks everyone for the great feedback yesterday! I am excited to start all of the new series as I got some interesting ideas for each from those comments.

Moving on to the next card in a series inspired from one of A Cracked Bat's giveaways, the 1986 Sportflics Decade Greats set. As we move further into the decade one of the best parts of this series is going to be the great action shots of long-past stars that Sportflics dug up, like this great double-play card.

The player: A star athlete at the University of Illinois at a time when college-educated major leaguers were fairly unusual, the 23-year-old Boudreau developed into a bona fide star at the age of 23 in his second full season in the majors in 1941, leading the American League with 45 doubles. After the season the Indians' managerial position opened up. Several veterans on the team applied for the job, but at the urging of team co-owner George Martin, President of the Sherwin Williams Paint Company, the team went with the youngest applicant for the job, Boudreau. Despite some initial conflicts with the older players, particularly the pitchers, Boudreau developed into a respected manager while remaining the best-hitting shortstops in baseball. He was particularly noted for his use of analytics - his shift on Ted Williams is considered the first of it's kind in baseball history. In 1948, Boudreau had arguably one of the best seasons one man ever had - he had a career year at the plate (.355, 18 HR, 106 RBI), and managed the team to a first-place tie with the Boston Red Sox. He then hit two home runs in the one-game playoff, and hit .273 in the World Series as his Indians defeated the Braves in six games. He is the only person to be voted the league MVP and win the World Series as a manager in the same season. After that season injuries hampered the career of Boudreau the player, and front office conflicts hampered the career of Boudreau the manager. He ended his playing career with two seasons for the Red Sox and had brief managerial stints with the Red Sox, A's and Cubs.

The man: Boudreau was a key figure in the integration of the American League, as Larry Doby's first major league manager, as well as bringing in Satchel Paige for the 1948 stretch run (Paige went 6-1 for the team that won a pennant by one game). After his managerial career he was a Cubs announcer for 30 years. He was the father of four children, including daughter Sharyn who married Tigers pitcher Denny McLain.

My collection: I do not have any playing-days cards of Boudreau. His last card as an active player was 1951 Bowman #62.

1 comment:

  1. I have a small collection of his, and had no idea that he had a card in this set. I guess I'll have to add it to my TCDB wantlist now.