TODAY’S STORY TAKES US BACK TO CHAMPAIGN, ILLINOIS in 1938. Future Baseball Hall-of-Famer, manager and broadcaster Lou Boudreau was a two-sport star at the University of Illinois before his major league baseball career. The U of I was forced to discipline Lou Boudreau for efforts to turn pro too soon.
The 20-year old forward and captain of the Illinois basketball team was disciplined for taking money from a professional baseball team. The Cleveland Indians was sending his mother monthly checks in exchange for the Harvey, Illinois native’s word that he would give the Indians the right of first refusal when he graduated.
Boudreau missed six basketball games at the end of the 1938 season. The Illini won two and lost four and finished with an uninspired 9-9 record in the Big Ten.
Boudreau ended up not returning to the University of Illinois in the fall for his Senior year because he signed a contract with Cleveland and started his professional baseball career.
He played 13 seasons for the Indians, mostly at shortstop, including nine as player-manager. He started managing at the age of 24. He guided the team to a World Series Championship in 1948, and was he league’s Most Valuable Player (MVP).
Boudreau finished his playing career with the Boston Red Sox in 1952. He also managed the Red Sox, Kansas City A’s (today’s Oakland A’s) and Chicago Cubs. Boudreau began broadcasting Cubs games in 1958, and except for managing the Cubs for one season (1960) he remained in the booth until 1987.
Louis Boudreau, the two-sport star the University of Illinois was forced to suspend in 1938, was voted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in 1970.
Boudreau as manager
Associated Press (AP), February 4, 1938s