Tris Speaker

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4+12 games behind the Yankees. The Indians did not seriously contend for the pennant from 1922 through 1925. [39] Speaker led the league in doubles eight times, including every year between 1920 and 1923. [14] He led the league's outfielders in fielding percentage in 1921 and 1922. [16] On May 17, 1925, Speaker became the fifth member of the 3,000 hit club when he hit a single off pitcher Tom Zachary of the Washington Senators. Only Napoleon Lajoie had previously accomplished the feat as a member of the Indians. [40]

AL President Ban Johnson asked Speaker and Detroit manager Cobb to resign their posts after a scandal broke in 1926. Pitcher Dutch Leonard claimed that Speaker and Cobb fixed at least one game between Cleveland and Detroit. 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. [41] 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. [42]

At the time of his 1926 resignation, news reports described Speaker as permanently retiring from baseball to pursue business ventures. [43] However, Speaker signed to play with the Washington Senators for 1927. [44] Cobb joined the Philadelphia Athletics. Speaker joined Cobb in Philadelphia for the 1928 season; he played part time and finished with a .267 average. [45] Prior to that season, Speaker had not hit for a batting average below .300 since 1908. [14]

Speaker's major league playing career ended after 1928. He retired with 792 doubles, an all-time career record. [14] Defensively, Speaker holds the all-time career records for assists as an outfielder and double plays as an outfielder. [16] He remains the last batter to hit 200 triples in a career.

Later life

Speaker's 1933 Goudey Gum Company baseball card TrisSpeakerGoudeycard.jpg
Speaker's 1933 Goudey Gum Company baseball card

In 1929 Speaker replaced Walter Johnson as the manager of the Newark Bears of the International League. [46] In two seasons with Newark, he also appeared as a player in 59 games. [47] When Speaker resigned during his second season, the Bears were in seventh place after a sixth-place finish in 1929. [48] In January 1933 he became a part owner and manager of the Kansas City Blues. [49] By May, Speaker had been replaced as manager but remained secretary of the club. [50] By 1936, he had sold his share of the team. [51] In 1937, Speaker was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame during its second year of balloting. He was honored at the hall's first induction ceremony in 1939. [52]

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. [53] 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. [54] Speaker sorted out a scheduling conflict for a 1940 boxing match in Cleveland involving former middleweight champion Teddy Yarosz. [55] Yarosz defeated Jimmy Reeves in ten rounds and the fight attracted over 8,300 spectators. [56]

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. [57] He ultimately recovered. [58]

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. [59] The league shut down operations due to poor attendance only two months after its formation. [60] 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. [61] Speaker served as vice president of the society, ran fundraising campaigns and received a distinguished service award from the organization. [62] He became seriously ill with pneumonia in 1942. [63] Speaker ultimately recovered, but Gay characterized Speaker's condition as "touch-and-go for several days". [64]

In 1947, Speaker returned to baseball as "ambassador of good will" for Bill Veeck and the Cleveland Indians. [65] He remained in advisory, coaching or scouting roles for the Indians until his death in 1958. In an article in the July 1952 issue of SPORT , Speaker recounted how Veeck hired him in 1947 to be a coaching consultant to Larry Doby, the first black player in the AL and the second in the major leagues. Before the Indians had signed Doby, he was the star second baseman of the Newark Eagles of the Negro leagues. 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. Speaker was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1951. Texas was the first state to establish a state sports hall of fame and Speaker was in its inaugural induction class. [66]


Speaker died of a heart attack on December 8, 1958, at the age of 70, at Lake Whitney, Texas. He collapsed as he and a friend were pulling their boat into the dock after a fishing trip. It was his second heart attack in four years. [67] Speaker was buried at Fairview Cemetery in Hubbard, Texas. [68]

After Speaker's death, 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." Lajoie said, "He was one of the greatest fellows I ever knew, both as a baseball player and as a gentleman." [69] Former Boston teammate Duffy Lewis said, "He was a team player. As great a hitter as he was, he wasn't looking out for his own average ... Speaker was the bell cow of our outfield. Harry Hooper and I would watch him and know how to play the hitters." [70]


Line-Up for Yesterday

S is for Speaker,
Swift center-field tender,
When the ball saw him coming,
It yelled, "I surrender."

Ogden Nash , Sport magazine (January 1949) [71]

Immediately after Speaker's death, the baseball field at the city park in Cleburne, Texas, was renamed in honor of Speaker. [68] 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. [72] In 1999, he ranked number 27 on the Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players. He was named to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. [73] [74] Speaker is mentioned in the poem "Line-Up for Yesterday" by Ogden Nash. [75]

In 2008, former baseball players' union chief Marvin Miller, trying to defend the recently retired catcher Mike Piazza against claims that he should not be elected to the Hall of Fame because of association with the use of steroids, on the basis that the Hall of Fame has various unsavory people in it, 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." [76] Miller's comment about Anson has no basis, other than speculating that he could have been a Klansman since he was a racist during his playing career, which ended in 1897, although he was umpiring games with black players by 1901, including featuring the all-black Columbia Giants. Miller, age 91 at the time the 2008 article appeared, is the earliest source for declaring that it is factual that Anson was a member of the Klan, based purely on an Internet search of sources that try to link Anson to the Klan. By contrast, Speaker-Cobb-Rogers Hornsby biographer Charles C. Alexander, a Klan expert in his general history writings, told fellow baseball author Marty Appel, apparently referring to the 1920s (Anson died in 1922), “As I’ve suggested in the biographies, it’s possible that they [Speaker, Cobb and Hornsby] were briefly in the Klan, which was very strong in Texas and especially in Fort Worth and Dallas. The Klan went all out to recruit prominent people in all fields, provided they were native born, Protestant and white.” [77]

Baseball historian Bill James does not dispute this claim in apparently referring to Speaker and possibly Cobb, but says that the Klan had toned down its racist overtures during the 1920s and pulled in hundreds of thousands of men, including Hugo Black. [78] 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. [79]

Regular season statistics

Tris Speaker
Tris Speaker.jpg
Center fielder / Manager
Born:(1888-04-04)April 4, 1888
Hubbard, Texas
Died: December 8, 1958(1958-12-08) (aged 70)
Whitney, Texas
Batted: Left
Threw: Left
MLB debut
September 14, 1907, for the Boston Americans
Last MLB appearance
August 30, 1928, for the Philadelphia Athletics

Managerial record

TeamYearRegular seasonPostseason
GamesWonLostWin %FinishWonLostWin %Result
CLE 1919 614021.6562nd in AL
CLE 1920 1549856.6361st in AL52.714Won World Series (BKN)
CLE 1921 1549460.6102nd in AL
CLE 1922 1547876.5064th in AL
CLE 1923 1538271.5363rd in AL
CLE 1924 1536786.4386th in AL
CLE 1925 1547084.4556th in AL
CLE 1926 1548866.5712nd in AL

See also


  1. "Career Leaders & Records for Batting Average". Baseball Reference. Retrieved 2012-12-14.
  2. Gay, p. 130
  3. 100 Greatest Baseball Players by The Sporting News : A Legendary List by Baseball Almanac
  4. Speaker, Tristram E. Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved July 31, 2013.
  5. 1 2 Speaker, Tris (May 19, 1916). "How I Became the Highest-Priced Star in Big Leagues". Toledo News-Bee. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  6. Vaughan, Doug (September 19, 1939). "On The Rebound". The Windsor Daily Star. Retrieved December 16, 2012.
  7. Gay, p. 41
  8. Snyder, Dean (August 1, 1921). "Tris Speaker Throws a Mean Rope". The Southeast Missourian. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
  9. "Speaker is Crowned King of All Baseball Players; Star Becomes Famous When His Team Takes Lead". The Gazette Times . June 29, 1912. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  10. Gay, p. 48
  11. Jim Sandoval, Bill Nowlin, Can He Play? A Look at Baseball Scouts and their Profession, 2011, page 2
  12. Nichols, John (2007). The Story of the Boston Red Sox. The Creative Company. p. 8. ISBN   978-1583414811.
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  16. 1 2 3 4 "Tris Speaker Fielding Statistics". . Retrieved October 3, 2013.
  17. "Tris Speaker Swings Last Bat". The Vancouver Sun. December 9, 1958. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
  18. "1910 American League Team Statistics and Standings". Sports Reference, LLC. Retrieved July 31, 2013.
  19. "1911 American League Team Statistics and Standings". Sports Reference, LLC. Retrieved July 31, 2013.
  20. Browne, Ian. "Harper reflects back on racial turmoil in Boston". . Archived from the original on October 4, 2013. Retrieved October 4, 2013.
  21. "Speaker's Mother Wants Him to Quit". The St. Petersburg Independent. August 27, 1912. Retrieved December 16, 2012.
  22. Richards, Steve (September 29, 1999). "Speaker: First Sox Who Got Away". The Boston Globe . Archived from the original on October 11, 2013. Retrieved July 30, 2013. via HighBeam Research.
  23. "Tris Speaker World Series Stats". Baseball Almanac . Retrieved July 30, 2013.
  24. "Tris Speaker Sold to Cleveland Club" (PDF). New York Times. 9 April 1916. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
  25. McMane, Fred (2000). The 3,000 Hit Club. Sports Publishing, LLC. p. 43. ISBN   9781582612201.
  26. Vaccaro, Mike (2006). Emperors and Idiots: The Hundred Year Rivalry Between the Yankees and Red Sox, From the Very Beginning to the End of the Curse . ISBN   9780385513548.
  27. Grabowski, John (1992). Sports in Cleveland: An Illustrated History. Indiana University Press. p. 37. ISBN   0253207479.
  28. Webster, Gary (2012). Tris Speaker and the 1920 Indians: Tragedy to Glory. McFarland. p. 17. ISBN   978-0786467969.
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  31. Williams, Joe (February 9, 1928). "Speaker Longs to Cavort on One More Championship Club". Toledo News-Bee. Retrieved July 31, 2013.
  32. "Speaker Seeks to be Aviator" (PDF). New York Times. 21 October 1918. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
  33. Gay, p. 181
  34. Snyder, Dean (August 1, 1921). "Speaker Throws a Mean Rope". Cape Girardeau Southeast Missourian. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  35. Murdock, Eugene (1991). Baseball Players and Their Times: Oral Histories of the Game, 1920–1940. New York: Macklermedia. p. 200. ISBN   0-88736-235-4.
  36. McMane, Fred (2012). The 3,000 Hit Club: Stories of Baseball's Greatest Hitters. Skyhorse Publishing. ISBN   978-1613213018.
  37. "Speaker Again Stars; Indians are Champions". The Milwaukee Journal. October 12, 1920. Retrieved July 30, 2013.
  38. "Chapman Planned to Retire After Helping Speaker Win His Pennant". The Deseret News. August 18, 1920. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  39. 1 2 3 Steinberg, Steve (June 22, 2010). "Manager Speaker". The Baseball Research Journal. Archived from the original on March 29, 2015. Retrieved July 30, 2013. via HighBeam Research.
  40. "The 3,000 Hit Club: Tris Speaker". National Baseball Hall of Fame . Retrieved April 18, 2013.
  41. 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.
  42. Schneider, Russell (2004). The Cleveland Indians Encyclopedia. Sports Publishing, LLC. p. 322. ISBN   1582618402.
  43. "Speaker Resigns Cleveland Indian Post". The Milwaukee Sentinel. November 30, 1926. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  44. "Griffith Grabs Veteran With Phone Talk". The Milwaukee Sentinel. February 1, 1927. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  45. Neyer, Rob (2003). Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Lineups. Simon & Schuster. p. 247. ISBN   0743241746.
  46. "Tris Speaker Signs to Manage Newark Team in Minor Loop". The Washington Daily Reporter. November 12, 1928. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  47. "Tris Speaker Minor League Statistics & History". Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  48. "Tris Speaker Quits Newark". San Jose Evening News. November 27, 1930. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  49. "Blues Are Sold". St. Joseph Gazette. January 28, 1933. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  50. Levy, Sam (May 28, 1933). "Tris Speaker Bawled Out Manager in His First Regular League Start". The Milkwaukee Journal. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  51. "Speaker Deplores Lack of Color in Baseball". The Milwaukee Journal. May 14, 1936. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  52. "Tris Speaker". Sports Reference, LLC. Retrieved July 31, 2013.
  53. McCann, Richard (March 17, 1937). "Tris Speaker's Three Jobs Keep Him Hustling Like a Browns' Outfielder". The Telegraph-Herald. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  54. "Tris Speaker Quitting Boxing Body". St. Petersburg Times. October 31, 1943. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  55. "Old Tris Settles Ring Date Mixup". Toledo Blade . March 25, 1940. Retrieved October 4, 2013.
  56. "Teddy Yarosz Scores Easy Victory Over Jimmy Reeves". The Daily Times. April 16, 1940. Retrieved October 4, 2013.
  57. "Tris Speaker May Recover from His Injury in Fall". Reading Eagle. April 12, 1937. Retrieved January 30, 2013.
  58. "Tris Speaker to Speak at Oldtimers Banquet". Reading Eagle. January 20, 1952. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  59. "Indoor League Is Organized". The Milwaukee Journal. November 15, 1939. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  60. "National Indoor Baseball League Halts Activities". Saskatoon Star-Phoenix. December 23, 1939. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  61. "Editorials: Tris Speaker". Lewiston Evening Journal. December 9, 1958. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  62. "Tris Speaker Awarded Medal For His Service". The Portsmouth Times. April 14, 1944. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  63. "Speaker is Sure He'll Get Well". Portsmouth Times . July 12, 1942. Retrieved July 30, 2013.
  64. Gay, p. 271
  65. "Veeck Adds Tris Speaker as Good Will Ambassador". The Milwaukee Sentinel. January 24, 1947. Retrieved April 5, 2013.
  66. "Texas Sports Hall of Fame". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  67. "Tris Speaker, Baseball Immortal, Dies in Texas". Schenectady Gazette. December 9, 1958. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  68. 1 2 "Tris Speaker Funeral Today". St. Petersburg Times. December 11, 1958. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  69. "Cobb Pays Great Tribute To Old Rival". Toledo Blade. December 9, 1958. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  70. "Lewis is Shocked by Speaker's Death". The Milwaukee Journal. December 9, 1958. Retrieved July 30, 2013.
  71. "Line-Up For Yesterday by Ogden Nash". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved 2008-01-23.
  72. "Yogi Wins Tris Speaker Award". Ocala Star-Banner. January 6, 1963. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  73. "Baseball's 100 Greatest Players". Retrieved April 5, 2013.
  74. "The All-Century Team". . Retrieved April 5, 2013.
  75. "Line-Up For Yesterday by Ogden Nash". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved July 31, 2013.
  76. Jaffe, Jay (May 29, 2008). "Prospectus Hit and Run". Baseball Prospectus . Baseball Prospectus . Retrieved 2008-05-29.
  77. Appel, Marty. "Historian puts spotlight on Cobb and Speaker"., Sports Collectors Digest, December 21, 2007. Anson biographer Rosenberg did the Internet search on July 22, 2016, and added the citation to Alexander's article, to point out Miller's imbalance in weighting Anson versus Cobb, plus the juxtaposing of a Bill James comment that lacks a page citation and which likely is not referring to Anson on this subject. For Anson umpiring games with black players, see Rosenberg, Howard W. "Fantasy Baseball: The Momentous Drawing of the Sport's 19th-Century 'Color Line' is still Tripping up History Writers"., The Atavist, June 14, 2016
  78. James, Bill (December 31, 2008). "The New Bill James Historical Abstract". Simon & Schuster. ISBN   9781439106938 . Retrieved 2008-12-31.
  79. Grigsby, Daryl Russell (2012). Celebrating Ourselves: African-Americans and the Promise of Baseball. Indianapolis: Dog Ear Publishing. p. 105. ISBN   978-160844-798-5 . Retrieved 8 August 2012.

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Further reading

Preceded bySingle season doubles record holders
Succeeded by
Preceded by Hitting for the cycle
June 9, 1912
Succeeded by