Tris Speaker

Tristram E Speaker
Inducted to the Hall of Fame in: 1937
Primary team: Cleveland Indians
Primary position: Center Fielder

“At the crack of the bat he'd be off with his back to the infield, and then he'd turn and glance over his shoulder at the last minute and catch the ball so easy it looked like there was nothing to it, nothing at all." —Red Sox righthander Smoky Joe Wood

By the time Tris Speaker turned 21, he was already one of the best center fielders in the game, a player highly regarded for both his work at the plate and in the field. A Texas native, Speaker began his career with the Red Sox, where he had the best season of his career in 1912. Speaker earned American League MVP honors that year, leading the AL in on-base percentage and carrying Boston to a World Series championship.

A tremendous contact hitter who could drive the ball into the gaps and down the line, Speaker led the American League in doubles eight times. Speaker led the Red Sox to another World Series title in 1915, but Boston traded him to the Indians at the start of the 1916 season. In Speaker’s first season with the Indians, he led the AL in average, on-base percentage and slugging. Ty Cobb, Speaker’s rival for the greatest center fielder of the Deadball Era, had won five consecutive batting titles before Speaker edged him for the crown by 15 points in 1916.

Speaker took over as a player/manager during the 1919 season—a position he held until his final season in Cleveland in 1926—leading the Indians to a 40-21 finish down the stretch. In his first full season as player/manager in 1920, Speaker reached his third and final World Series, helping the Indians capture the championship in seven games over Brooklyn.

Speaker was productive well into his later years in Cleveland, posting career-bests in average (.389) and OBP (a league-leading .479) in 1925 at age 37. He rounded out his career with a season in Washington (where he struck out just eight times in 141 games) and another in Philadelphia, where he retired at age 40 after the 1928 season.

Beyond his offensive prowess, Speaker also stood out for his defense, earning praise from his peers for his speed, range and arm. Speaker was known for playing a shallow center field, which helped him lead AL outfielders in assists three times, while his ability to cover ground on balls hit over his head helped him lead the league in putouts seven times.

“I still see more games lost by singles that drop just over the infield than a triple over the outfielder's head,” Speaker said. “I learned early that I could save more games by cutting off some of those singles than I would lose by having an occasional extra-base hit go over my head."

"Tris Speaker would lead the outfielders in assists and he used to come in sometimes and get in a run down between first and second base. "
Waite Hoyt

Career stats

Year Inducted: 1937
Primary Team: Cleveland Indians
Position Played: Center Fielder
Bats: Left
Throws: Left
Birth place: Hubbard, Texas
Birth year: 1888
Died: 1958, Lake Whitney, Texas
Played for:
Boston Red Sox (1907-1915)
Cleveland Indians (1916-1926)
Washington Senators (1927)
Cleveland Indians (1919-1926)
At BatsAB
Home RunsHR
Stolen BasesSB
Batting AverageBA
On Base %OBP
Slugging %SLG