This date in Kernels alumni history – July 14, 1946 The Williams Shift
On July 14, 1946, Lou Boudreau (Cedar Rapids Raiders – 1938) went 5-5 at the plate with a HR, 4 RBI, 4 doubles and scored three runs, but the Cleveland Indians fell 11-10 to Ted Williams and the Boston Red Sox. Williams hit three HR in the first game of that day’s doubleheader. Boudreau, the Indians player-manager installed a defensive shift each time Williams came to bat in the day’s second game moving almost his entire team to the right side of the field.
Boudreau, the Indians shortstop, put the third baseman behind second base, shifted himself to the right of second base, had the second baseman move into short right field and closer to first base and had the first baseman move closer to the line. He also had the center fielder play closer to right and the right fielder guard the foul line. The only player remaining on the left side was the left fielder who was positioned behind the shortstop’s normal area. The strategy became known as the Williams shift and has been used in recent years in less extreme versions against hitters know to pull the ball a lot. Williams went 1-2 with two walks and a double in the game.
Cedar Rapids alumni were everywhere in the game. Bill Zuber (Cedar Rapids Bunnies – 1932) earned the win striking out seven batters in 7 2/3 innings of work while allowing three runs. Red Embree (Cedar Rapids Raiders – 1940) took the loss for the Indians. Hank Edwards (Cedar Rapids Raiders – 1941) went 2-5 with a double, a RBI and scored a run and Pat Seerey (Cedar Rapids Raiders – 1942) was 1-4 with a walk for the Indians in the loss.
Lou Boudreau hit .295 with 68 HR and 796 RBI in his 15 year career with the Indians and the Red Sox. Boudreau was an eight-time All Star Game selection, starting three times. He won the 1944 AL batting title (.327), and led the league in doubles in 1941, 1944, and 1947. He led AL shortstops in fielding eight times. Boudreau still holds the record for hitting the most consecutive doubles in a game (four), set on July 14, 1946.
In 1948, he won the American League Most Valuable Player Award and managed the Cleveland Indians to the World Series title. Boudreau was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1970.
Lou Boudreau was part of the 1938 Cedar Rapids Raiders team that finished 56-63 under manager Cap Crossley. Boudreau hit .290 with three HR that year for the Cedar Rapids club in 60 games.