CLEVELAND — Lou Boudreau didn’t just manage the Cleveland Indians to their last World Series title in 1948. He was also their starting shortstop — and the AL’s MVP.
The club honored the Hall of Famer on Saturday by unveiling a bronze statue that will permanently sit outside the main entrance of Progressive Field alongside Bob Feller and Larry Doby, two fellow Hall of Famers and former teammates.
Boudreau was 24 when he became the youngest manager in team history in 1942. He led the Indians through a golden age, as the club won 728 games under him and their second World Series championship in 1948.
That year, Boudreau batted .355 with 106 RBI and struck out just nine times in 560 at-bats.
Indians owner Paul Dolan recalled that his father, Larry, idolized Boudreau and made him the standard by which he judged all other players.
It was almost unfair to compare anyone to Boudreau, one of the most unique players in baseball history. A seven-time All-Star, he finished with a .295 career average and led the league’s shortstops in fielding eight times.
“As a child of the 1960s and 70s, winning in Cleveland was unknown,” Dolan said. “And the World Series was unthinkable. So my father’s stories of this player-manager Lou Boudreau leading our Cleveland Indians to the World Series was like me reading stories of Harry Potter to my children. Magical and heroic, but unbelievable. Yet, there’s nothing fictional about the Boudreau magic.”
More than 70 members of Boudreau’s family and most of the Indians current players attended the pregame ceremony before the Indians hosted the New York Yankees.
Former major league pitcher Denny McLain, Boudreau’s son-in-law, spoke of his selflessness.
“Lou had no ego, none,” said McLain, who went 31-6 with Detroit in 1968. “Lou is the only man I’ve met who cared about everyone and everything.”
Lou Boudreau Jr. spoke about his father’s innovation as a manager. When the Indians faced the Boston Red Sox, Boudreau often deployed a shift against the great Ted Williams, moving three infielders on the right side to stop him. That strategy is very common in today’s game, a nod to Boudreau.
Before the statue of Boudreau, his bat pulled back as he loads up to swing at a pitch, was unveiled, Boudreau Jr. noted that his late father would have turned 100 this year.
“This statue will keep him forever young,” he said.