||This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2009)|
|Center fielder / Manager|
April 4, 1888|
|Died: December 8, 1958
Lake Whitney, Texas
|Batted: Left||Threw: Left|
|September 14, 1907 for the Boston Americans|
|Last MLB appearance|
|August 30, 1928 for the Philadelpia Athletics|
|Runs batted in||1,529|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Member of the National|
|Baseball Hall of Fame|
|Vote||82.1% (second ballot)|
Tristram E. Speaker (April 4, 1888 – December 8, 1958), nicknamed "Spoke" and "The Grey Eagle", was an American baseball player. Considered one of the best offensive and defensive center fielders in the history of Major League Baseball, he compiled a career batting average of .345 (sixth all-time), and still holds the record of 792 career doubles. Defensively, his career records for assists, double plays, and unassisted double plays by an outfielder still stand. His fielding glove was known as the place "where triples go to die."
Speaker led the Boston Red Sox to two World Series championships. As player-manager for the Cleveland Indians, he led the team to its first World Series title. His innovations, most notably the platoon system and the infield rotation play, revolutionized the game. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in its second year of voting, 1937.
Early life 
Tris Speaker was born on April 4, 1888 in Hubbard, Texas, to Archie and Nancy Poer Speaker. As a youth, Speaker became left-handed after breaking his right arm in a fall from a horse. In 1905, Speaker played a year of college baseball for Fort Worth Polytechnic Institute. His left arm was severely injured in a football accident, to the extent that surgeons advised amputation. Tris refused, and fully recovered. He worked on a ranch before beginning his professional baseball career.
Speaker's abilities drew the interest of Doak Roberts, then owner of the Cleburne Railroaders of the Texas League in 1906. After losing several games as a pitcher, Speaker converted to outfielder to replace a Cleburne player who had been struck in the head with a pitch. He batted .318 for the Railroaders, and wanted to be a professional ballplayer, but his mother opposed his being “sold into slavery”. Even after he had had success on the Houston club in the same league in 1907, she stated that she would never consent to her son going to the Boston Americans. Roberts sold the youngster to the Sox for $750 or $800, the Red Sox scout beating the St. Louis Browns by a mere half-hour.
Speaker played in seven games for the Red Sox in 1907, with three hits in 19 at bats for a .158 average. The following year, the Red Sox traded Speaker to the Little Rock Travelers of the Southern League in exchange for use of their facilities for spring training in 1908. Speaker batted .350 for the Travelers and his contract was repurchased by the Red Sox, for whom he appeared in 31 games and logged a .224 batting average.
Major league career 
Early years 
Speaker became the regular starting center fielder in 1909 and light-hitting Denny Sullivan was sold to the Cleveland Naps. Speaker hit .309 in 143 games as the team finished third in the pennant race. In 1910 the Red Sox signed left fielder Duffy Lewis. Speaker, Lewis and Harry Hooper would form Boston’s “Million-Dollar Outfield”, one of the finest outfield trios in baseball history. Because of his quickness, Speaker could play as shallow as 50 feet behind second base. In 1910 and 1911, Boston finished second to Connie Mack’s Philadelphia A’s, who were led by their formidable pitching trio of Jack Coombs, Chief Bender and Eddie Plank.
Speaker’s best season came in 1912. He played every game and led the American League (AL) in doubles (53) and home runs (10). He set career highs with 222 hits, 136 runs, 580 at-bats, and 52 steals; his stolen base tally was a team record until Tommy Harper stole 54 bases in 1973. He batted .383 and his .567 slugging percentage was the highest of his dead-ball days. Speaker set a major league single-season record with three batting streaks of twenty or more games (30, 23, and 22). He also became the first major leaguer to hit 50 doubles and steal 50 bases in the same season. In August, Speaker's mother unsuccessfully attempted to convince him to quit baseball and come home.
The Red Sox won the 1912 AL pennant, finishing 14 games ahead of the Washington Senators and 15 games ahead of the Philadelphia A’s. In the 1912 World Series, Speaker led the Red Sox to their second World Series title by defeating John McGraw's New York Giants. After the second game was called on account of darkness and ended in a tie, the series went to eight games. The Red Sox won the final game after Fred Snodgrass dropped an easy fly ball and later failed to go after a Speaker pop foul. After the pop foul, Speaker tied the game with a single. The Red Sox won the game in the bottom of the tenth inning. Speaker finished the series with a .300 batting average, nine hits and four runs scored.
Speaker batted .338 in 1914 and .322 in 1915. The Red Sox beat the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series. The Red Sox were led by pitcher Babe Ruth, who was playing in his first full season. Ruth won 18 games and hit a team-high four home runs.
Traded to the Indians 
After 1915, Red Sox president Joseph Lannin wanted Speaker to take a pay cut from about $15,000 to about $9,000 after his average had fallen to .322; Speaker refused and offered $12,000. On April 8, 1916, Lannin dealt Speaker to the Cleveland Indians. In exchange, Boston received Sad Sam Jones, Fred Thomas and $50,000. The angry Speaker held out for $10,000 of the cash that Boston collected, eventually receiving it with the aid of AL President Ban Johnson. Speaker’s contract with Cleveland for $40,000 was the highest in baseball at the time.[dubious ]
Speaker hit over .350 in ten of his eleven years with Cleveland. In 1916 he ended Ty Cobb's run of nine consecutive AL batting titles by batting .386 to Cobb’s .371. On Speaker's return to Boston on May 9, 1916, over 15,000 fans showed up and roared with approval every time he came near the ball. After one half-inning, Speaker started towards the Boston dugout, and the crowd went wild. His return was only spoiled by the Indians' loss of 5–1.
On September 1, 1917, in a game against the Tigers in Cleveland, Speaker was hit with the ball as he tried to steal home in the bottom of the first inning. Batter Joe Evans swung away and lined the ball into Speaker's face. As a courtesy, Detroit manager Hughie Jennings allowed Speaker to sit out the second inning while his face was sewn up. Elmer Smith played center field until Tris returned in the third.
Speaker played a very shallow center field for most hitters, positioning himself not far behind the infield. He executed six career unassisted double plays at second base, snaring low line drives on the run and then beating base runners to the bag. At least once he was credited as the pivot man in a routine double play. Longtime Red Sox teammate Bill Carrigan would send pickoff throws from his catcher's position to Speaker, who had sneaked in on second base. With Cleveland, the team practiced a play where he came in from center field to cover second on bunt plays. This freed his shortstop to cover third base and his third baseman to charge the bunts.
Stint as player-manager 
From the day that Speaker arrived in Cleveland, manager Lee Fohl rarely made an important move without consulting Speaker. George Uhle recalled an incident from 1919 during his rookie year with the Indians. Speaker would frequently signal to Fohl when he thought that a pitcher should be brought in from the bullpen. One day Fohl misread Speaker's signal and brought in a different pitcher than Speaker had intended. Speaker let the change stand to avoid the appearance of overruling his manager. Fritz Coumbe lost the game, Fohl resigned that night and Speaker became manager. Uhle said that Speaker felt bad for contributing to Fohl's departure.
In 1920, Speaker guided the Indians to their first World Series win. Speaker caught a screaming line drive hit to deep right-center field by Shoeless Joe Jackson in a season-ending game with the Chicago White Sox to win the pennant. On a dead run, Speaker leaped with both feet off the ground, snaring the ball before crashing into a concrete wall. As he lay unconscious from the impact, he still had a viselike grip on the ball. Cleveland's 1920 season had also been significant for the death of Ray Chapman on August 17. Chapman died after being hit in the head by a pitch from Carl Mays. Chapman had been asked about retirement before the season, and he said that he wanted to help Speaker earn Cleveland's first World Series victory before thinking of retirement.
On May 17, 1925, Speaker became the fifth member of the 3,000 hit club when he hit a single off of pitcher Tom Zachary of the Washington Senators. Only Napoleon Lajoie had previously accomplished the feat as a member of the Cleveland Indians.
AL President Ban Johnson asked Speaker and Detroit manager Ty Cobb to resign their posts after a scandal broke in 1926. Pitcher Dutch Leonard claimed that Speaker and Cobb fixed at least one Cleveland-Detroit game. In a newspaper column published shortly before the hearings were to begin, Billy Evans characterized the accusations as "purely a matter of personal revenge" for Leonard. The pitcher was said to be upset with Cobb and Speaker after a trade ended with Leonard in the minor leagues. When Leonard refused to appear at the January 5, 1927 hearings to discuss his accusations, Commissioner Landis cleared both Speaker and Cobb of any wrongdoing. Both were reinstated to their original teams, but each team declared its manager free to sign elsewhere. Speaker did not return to big league managing and he finished his MLB managerial career with a 617–520 record.
At the time of his 1926 resignation, news reports described Speaker as permanently retiring from baseball to pursue business ventures. However, Speaker signed to play with the Washington Senators for 1927. Cobb joined the Philadelphia Athletics. Speaker joined Cobb in Philadelphia for the 1928 season; he played part-time and finished with a .267 average.
Later life 
In 1929 Speaker replaced Walter Johnson as the manager of the Newark Bears of the International League. In two seasons with Newark, he also appeared as a player in 59 games. When Speaker resigned during his second season, the Bears were in seventh place after a sixth-place finish in 1929. In January 1933 he became a part owner and manager of the Kansas City Blues. By May, Speaker had been replaced as manager but remained secretary of the club. By 1936, Speaker had sold his share of the team.
In 1937, Speaker sustained a 16-foot fall while working on a flower box near a second-story window at his home. Upon admission to the hospital, he underwent facial surgery. He was described as having "better than an even chance to live" and was suffering from a skull fracture, a broken arm and possible internal injuries. He ultimately recovered.
In 1939, Speaker was president of the National Professional Indoor Baseball League. The league had teams in New York, Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Boston, Cleveland, Chicago, Cincinnati and St. Louis. The league shut down operations due to poor attendance only two months after its formation.
In 1947, Speaker returned to Major League Baseball as "ambassador of good will" for Bill Veeck and the Cleveland Indians. He remained in advisory, coaching or scouting roles for the Indians until his death. In an article in the July 1952 issue of SPORT, Speaker recounted how Bill Veeck hired him to be a coaching consultant to Larry Doby, the first black player in the American League and the second in Major League Baseball. The Indians had signed Doby, the star center fielder of the Newark Eagles of the Negro Leagues, in 1947. A SPORT photograph that accompanied the article shows Speaker mentoring five members of the Indians: Luke Easter, Jim Hegan, Ray Boone, Al Rosen and Doby.
Outside of baseball 
Speaker enrolled at Boston Institute of Technology in 1918 for purposes of becoming an aviator. Though World War I ended less than two months after he enrolled, Speaker completed his training and served in the naval reserves for several years. He also owned a ranch in Texas and competed in roping events during the baseball offseason.
Speaker was one of the founders of Cleveland's Society for Crippled Children and he helped to promote the society's rehabilitation center, Camp Cheerful. Speaker served as vice president of the society, ran fundraising campaigns and received a distinguished service award from the organization.
After his playing and managing days, Speaker was an entrepreneur and salesman. By 1937, Speaker had opened a wholesale liquor business and worked as a state sales representative for a steel company. He chaired Cleveland's boxing commission between 1936 and 1943. Newspaper coverage credited Speaker with several key reforms to boxing in Cleveland, including the recruitment of new officials and protections against fight fixing. Under Speaker, fight payouts went directly to boxers rather than managers.
Speaker died of a heart attack on December 8, 1958 in Lake Whitney, Texas. He collapsed on a fishing trip with a friend as they were pulling their boat back into the dock. He was 70 years old. Speaker had suffered a previous heart attack four years prior to his death. Speaker was buried at Fairview Cemetery in Hubbard, Texas.
After Speaker's death, Ty Cobb said, "Terribly depressed. I never let him know how much I admired him when we were playing against each other... It was only after we finally became teammates and then retired that I could tell Tris Speaker of the underlying respect I had for him." Nap Lajoie stated, "He was one of the greatest fellows I ever knew, both as a baseball player and as a gentleman."
Immediately after Speaker's death, the baseball field at the city park in Cleburne, Texas was renamed in honor of Speaker. In 1961, the Tris Speaker Memorial Award was created by the Baseball Writers Association of America to honor players or officials who make outstanding contributions to baseball.
In 2008, former baseball executive Marvin Miller opined that Speaker should be removed from the Hall of Fame because of alleged membership in the Ku Klux Klan. Miller said, "Some of the early people inducted in the Hall were members of the Ku Klux Klan: Tris Speaker, Cap Anson, and some people suspect Ty Cobb as well. I think that by and large, the players, and certainly the ones I knew, are good people. But the Hall is full of villains." Baseball historian Bill James does not refute this claim, but says that the Klan had toned down its racist overtures during the 1920s and pulled in hundreds of thousands of non-racist men, including Hugo Black. James adds that Speaker was a staunch supporter of Doby when he broke the American League color barrier, working long hours with the former second baseman on how to play the outfield.:p.105
Honors and awards 
In 1937, Speaker was voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame during its second year of balloting. He was honored at the hall's first induction ceremony in 1939. When Speaker was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1951, he became the first American athlete inducted into a state sports hall of fame. In 1999, he ranked number 27 on the Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players and was named to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.
Regular season statistics 
See also 
- 3,000 hit club
- Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame
- Hitting for the cycle
- List of Major League Baseball batting champions
- List of Major League Baseball doubles champions
- List of Major League Baseball doubles records
- List of Major League Baseball hit records
- List of Major League Baseball home run champions
- List of Major League Baseball leaders in career stolen bases
- List of Major League Baseball player–managers
- List of Major League Baseball players with 100 triples
- List of Major League Baseball players with 1000 runs
- List of Major League Baseball players with 1000 RBI
- List of Major League Baseball players with 2000 hits
- List of Major League Baseball players with 400 doubles
- List of Major League Baseball triples records
- "Career Leaders & Records for Batting Average". Baseball Reference. Retrieved 2012-12-14.
- Gay, Timothy M. (2005). Tris Speaker: The Rough-and-Tumble Life of a Baseball Legend. Lyons Press. ISBN 978-1-59921-111-4. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
- Speaker, Tris (May 19, 1916). "How I Became the Highest-Priced Star in Big Leagues". Toledo News-Bee. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- Vaughan, Doug (September 19, 1939). "On The Rebound". The Windsor Daily Star. Retrieved December 16, 2012.
- Snyder, Dean (August 1, 1921). "Tris Speaker Throws a Mean Rope". The Southeast Missourian. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
- Jim Sandoval, Bill Nowlin, Can He Play? A Look at Baseball Scouts and their Profession, 2011, page 2
- "Tris Speaker Swings Last Bat". The Vancouver Sun. December 9, 1958. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
- "Speaker's Mother Wants Him to Quit". The St. Petersburg Independent. August 27, 1912. Retrieved December 16, 2012.
- "Tris Speaker Sold to Cleveland Club". New York Times. 9 April 1916. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
- Murdock, Eugene (1991). Baseball Players and Their Times: Oral Histories of the Game, 1920-1940. New York, New York: Macklermedia. p. 200. ISBN 0-88736-235-4.
- "Chapman Planned to Retire After Helping Speaker Win His Pennant". The Deseret News. August 18, 1920. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- "The 3,000 Hit Club: Tris Speaker". National Baseball Hall of Fame. Retrieved April 18, 2013.
- Evans, Billy (December 27, 1926). "Charges Against Cobb And Speaker Made By Pitcher "Dutch" Leonard Were Prompted By Personal Grudge". Beaver Falls Tribune. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- "Speaker Resigns Cleveland Indian Post". The Milwaukee Sentinel. November 30, 1926. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- "Griffith Grabs Veteran With Phone Talk". The Milwaukee Sentinel. February 1, 1927. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- "Tris Speaker Signs to Manage Newark Team in Minor Loop". The Washington Daily Reporter. November 12, 1928. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- "Tris Speaker Minor League Statistics & History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- "Tris Speaker Quits Newark". San Jose Evening News. November 27, 1930. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- "Blues Are Sold". St. Joseph Gazette. January 28, 1933. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- Levy, Sam (May 28, 1933). "Tris Speaker Bawled Out Manager in His First Regular League Start". The Milkwaukee Journal. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- "Speaker Deplores Lack of Color in Baseball". The Milwaukee Journal. May 14, 1936. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- "Tris Speaker May Recover from His Injury in Fall". Reading Eagle. April 12, 1937. Retrieved January 30, 2013.
- "Tris Speaker to Speak at Oldtimers Banquet". Reading Eagle. January 20, 1952. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- "Indoor League Is Organized". The Milwaukee Journal. November 15, 1939. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- "National Indoor Baseball League Halts Activities". Saskatoon Star-Phoenix. December 23, 1939. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- "Veeck Adds Tris Speaker as Good Will Ambassador". The Milwaukee Sentinel. January 24, 1947. Retrieved April 5, 2013.
- "Speaker Seeks to be Aviator". New York Times. 21 October 1918. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
- Snyder, Dean (August 1, 1921). "Speaker Throws a Mean Rope". Cape Girardeau Southeast Missourian. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- "Editorials: Tris Speaker". Lewiston Evening Journal. December 9, 1958. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- "Tris Speaker Awarded Medal For His Service". The Portsmouth Times. April 14, 1944. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- McCann, Richard (March 17, 1937). "Tris Speaker's Three Jobs Keep Him Hustling Like a Browns' Outfielder". The Telegraph-Herald. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- "Tris Speaker Quitting Boxing Body". St. Petersburg Times. October 31, 1943. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- "Tris Speaker, Baseball Immortal, Dies in Texas". Schenectady Gazette. December 9, 1958. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- "Tris Speaker Funeral Today". St. Petersburg Times. December 11, 1958. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- "Cobb Pays Great Tribute To Old Rival". Toledo Blade. December 9, 1958. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- "Yogi Wins Tris Speaker Award". Ocala Star-Banner. January 6, 1963. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- Jaffe, Jay (May 29, 2008). "Prospectus Hit and Run". Baseball Prospectus (Baseball Prospectus). Retrieved 2008-05-29.
- James, Bill (December 31, 2008). "The New Bill James Historical Abstract". Simon and Schuster. Retrieved 2008-12-31.
- Grigsby, Daryl Russell (2012). Celebrating Ourselves: African-Americans and the Promise of Baseball. Indianapolis, IN: Dog Ear Publishing. ISBN 978-160844-798-5. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
- "Line-Up For Yesterday by Ogden Nash". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved 2008-01-23.
- "Texas Sports Hall of Fame". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- "Baseball's 100 Greatest Players". Baseball-Almanac.com. Retrieved April 5, 2013.
- "The All-Century Team". MLB.com. Retrieved April 5, 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Tris Speaker|
- Tris Speaker at the Baseball Hall of Fame
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
- Baseball Library (profile)
- Baseball Page (highlights)
- Tris Speaker's IMDB page
- The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History: Tris Speaker
|Awards and achievements|
|American League Home Run Champion
(with Frank Baker)
|American League Most Valuable Player
|American League Batting Champion
|Cleveland Indians Manager
|Single season doubles record holders
1923 - 1925