Monday, February 11, 2008

Indians Uniform Number - 5 (Part 2 of 2) Lou Boudreau

While researching players for the All-time Triber Uniform #5, one name jumped out: Lou Boudreau. From his nearly-perennial All-Star appearances (sometimes in nomination instead of in-game) to his World Series win to his Hall of Fame induction and Indians jersey being retired, Boudreau evokes both the memories of days gone by and of what baseball players should aspire to become.

Lou Boudreau - 13 seasons (1938-1950) - I feel like I could not say a word, and if you know anything about Indians players, or HOFers at all, you know without a doubt who the all-time #5 Triber is. Nonetheless, I don't feel I would do the list justice if I did not at least touch on some of the highlights of this amazing Indians player. In 1938, Boudreau had one at-bat in one game. He was walked. Over the next 12 seasons, he would not hit anything less than .257 per year. Add to that EIGHT All-Star selections, an AL championship and the 1948 World Series title. In 1944, he won the AL batting title. In three seasons, he led the AL in doubles. In '48, he helped the Tribe end the seasons tied with the Red Sox (while limping on an injured ankle, no less). This led to a one-game tie-breaker, where Boudreau hit 4-for-4, knocking in two homers for good measure. Defensively, he held the record for the most double plays in a season (134) for TWENTY-SIX YEARS (only three other shortstops have bested that record). In 1970, he was elected to the Hall of Fame, and the Indians retired his number that year. His baseball resume' is pages long, and not only covers his playing career, but also his managing and sportscasting work as well. Oh yeah, and he also played pro basketball.

Lew Fonseca - 4+ Seasons (1927 - part of 1931) - Lew was truly an all-around player. While with the Indians, he played shortstop, 1b, 2b, and 3b. On the 1930 W554 I bought, he is listed as an outfielder (not a position he played while with the Tribe, though he did play OF for the White Sox). Later in life, he also pitched for the Sox. In his time with the Tribe, he batted .279+ each season, but this does not really cover his true averages. He batted .311 his first year, then .327, .369, .279, and .370 respectively for each year with the club. His 1929 .369 average was his career high and also earned him the AL top-hitter title that year. An interesting tidbit about Fonseca is that he is one of the first guys to use film in order to find weaknesses in other players. In 1928, he broke a leg, and in 1930, he broke an arm. Looking at his stats from those years, it is easy to speculate just how far he might have gone: 1928 - 263 at-bats (in 75 games), 38 runs, 86 hits, 19 doubles, 4 triples, 3 homers, 36 RBIs with only 17 strikeouts. 1930 - 129 at-bats (in 40 games), 20 runs, 36 hits, 9 doubles, 2 triples, 17 RBIs.

Ray Webster - 1 season (1959) - Webster played in 40 games for the Tribe. In 74 at-bats, he got 10 runs on 15 hits, including two doubles, a triple, and two home runs with seven strike outs. He left the Tribe with a .203 average before being traded to the Red Sox.

Roger Maris - 1+ seasons (1957 - part of '58) - Before Maris was "ROGER MARIS! 61 in '61!," he began his MLB career in a Tribe uniform. He batted in 116 games his rookie year for 358 at-bats. Would his rookie career be a taste of what was to become of this up-and-comer? You decide. He scored 61 runs (hmmm) on 84 hits with 79 strikeouts. He also got nine doubles, five triples, and fourteen home runs, bringing in 51 RBIs. In his rookie seasons, he hit an "on par for a Triber" .235 average, and his next stint (only 51 games) left him with a .225 avg. A little non-Tribe trivia: Did you know that he never batted better than .281? Did you know that his 61 homers in '61 netted him a .269 avg? Just some neat facts about Mr. Maris.

Roy Hughes - 3 seasons (1935-'37) - Nicknamed "Jeep" because of his speed, Hughes batted in 82 games in his rookie year with 266 appearances at the plate. In those 82 games, he got 78 hits with 40 runs, fifteen doubles, and fourteen RBIs for a .293 first-year average. The next year, he added .002 to his avg to bump himself up to a .295, before dropping to a .277 before being traded to the St. Louis Browns. He did not hit a lot of homers as a Triber (only hit 1), but he did have 209 runs (117 RBIs) on 362 hits. Just be sure not to confuse him with the Roy Hughes of "old west" days... :-)

Sammy Taylor - Part of 1 season (1963) - Taylor batted in 4 games for the Tribe. In his 10 at-bats, he scored one run on three hits and struck out twice. He finished his MLB career with his best average of his ball-playing years: .300 (which followed his career low of .000 in three games with the Reds prior coming to the Tribe).

Skeeter Webb - 2 seasons (1938-'39) - James "Skeeter" Webb came to the Tribe via Free Agency through the Cardinals. Bouncing between 2b, 3b, and shortstop, he ultimately found his permanent spot in the shortstop position for the Tribe late in 1938 and played there during the '39 season. His 20-game introduction to the Tribe netted him a .276 average and his 81-game sophomore season with the Tribe brought him his career-high .264 average. The photo comes from the Ole Miss alumni page...

Snuffy Stirnweiss - 1+ seasons (1951 - part of '52) - George "Snuffy" Strinweiss hung around the MLB just long enough to get himself a 1952 Topps baseball card, then he was done. He came to the Indians from St. Louis, batting in 50 games his first season and in just one game in '52. He had a total of 88 at-bats, netting 10 runs on 19 hits with 1 homer and 4 RBIs. Amazingly, he was walked 22 times (that's a walk in every four at-bats). He also managed to strike out 25 times, which left him with a .216 avg his first year, and a goose-egg his final year in the majors.

Steve Demeter - Part of 1 season (1960) - Demeter was born, ironically, in Homer, Pa. Ironic, you ask? His entire MLB career consists of 15 games (11 for the Tigers and 4 with the Tribe) and he had no homers in any of those games. In his 5 at-bats with the Tribe, he had one strikeout and no other hits at all. Like several of the Tribers in our lists, he left Cleveland with a zero average.

Willie Kamm - 4+ seasons (Part of 1931-1935) - Kamm charged onto the field for a .295 average his first year in an Indians uniform (his 2nd highest avg), and he followed that up with .286, .282, and .269 seasons. In his last season, he batted 18 times in 6 games for a .333 career-ending average (not a bad way to end a 13-year career).

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