“You can write him down as one of the two models of ballplaying grace.” Grantland Rice

Tris Speaker was the best player on the Boston Red Sox team of 1912. In fact, in 1912, he was the best player in the league. In fact, Tristram E Speaker was Fenway Park’s first full-blown superstar! In fact, Tris Speaker was a better all around baseball player than Ty Cobb! That’s right, it may seem blasphemous to say that being that Cobb has the best lifetime batting average in history, but Speaker was not that far behind him offensively and defensively Speaker had no match. There are some who will argue his match has yet to be met as a defensive centerfielder! 

Tris Speaker and Ty Cobb.

Born on the plains of Texas, he had three uncles who fought with the Confederacy in the Civil War. He taught himself to throw left-handed after twice breaking his right arm, being bucked off a steer. He hunted, he fished and is said to have taught Will Rogers how to throw a lariat.

After failed attempts to join a professional team, he paid his way to the Red Sox spring training site in Little Rock Arkansas in 1908 and in 1909 he became their regular centerfielder.

 Speaker hit .309 as a rookie and did not dip below .300 until 1919 when he hit .296. The 1910 season brought “Duffy” Lewis and Harry Hooper into the Red Sox outfield and for six seasons the three of them formed what some still call the greatest defensive outfield in history; anchored by Tris Speaker in center!

Lewis, Speaker and Hooper.

In 1912 he led the Red Sox to 105 wins, the American League pennant, and in the World Series deciding game, he tied it in the bottom of the tenth with a two out base hit. He received the “Chalmers Award” as the American League MVP.

After leading the Red Sox to another World Series title in 1915, he was traded to Cleveland just before the start of the 1916 season. A victim of a rift in the clubhouse that believe it or not, centered on religious differences; there was a catholic faction and a protestant faction. Owner Joseph Lannin was an Irish catholic and Tris was Cleveland bound.

He went on to secure his place in history as a player and player-manger with the Indians. As an outfielder he led the league in putouts seven times and assists three times. He still holds the record for outfield assists in a season with 35, he did it twice. And six times he led the league in double plays. At the plate; his .345 lifetime batting average is sixth all time, his 3,514 hits is fifth all time, his .428 on base percentage is 11th all time and his 792 career doubles tops the list! And if all that wasn’t enough, he was the first manager to platoon his lineup!

In 1937 he was inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame but his Red Sox roots are not forgotten as he was a charter member of their hall of fame in 1995 and today his banner waves in honor on Van Ness Street outside of Fenway Park, 100 years after he was the MVP!

             And so it was at this time in Fenway Park history, winter 1911.


About fenwaypark100

Hello and welcome, my name is Raymond Sinibaldi. An educator for more than two decades, a baseball fan for nearly 60 years, I have authored four books about baseball and her glorious history; with a fifth on the way in late spring of 2015; the first, The Babe in Red Stockings which was co-authored with Kerry Keene and David Hickey. It is a chronicle of Babe's days with the Red Sox. We also penned a screenplay about Babe's Red Sox days so if any of you are Hollywood inclined or would like to represent us in forwarding that effort feel free to contact me through my email. In 2012 we three amigos published Images of Fenway Park in honor of the 100th birthday of Fenway Park. That led to the creation of this blog. The following year, 2013 came my first solo venture, Spring Training in Bradenton and Sarasota. This is a pictorial history of spring training in those two Florida cities. The spring of 2014 brought forth the 1967 Red Sox, The Impossible Dream Season. The title speaks for itself and it also is a pictorial history. Many of the photos in this book were never published before. The spring of 2015 will bring 1975 Red Sox, American League Champions. Another pictorial effort, this will be about the Red Sox championship season of 1975 and the World Series that restored baseball in America. I was fortunate enough to consult with sculptor Franc Talarico on the “Jimmy Fund” statue of Ted Williams which stands outside both Fenway Park and Jet Blue Park Fenway South, in Fort Myers Florida. That story is contained in the near 300 posts which are contained herein. This blog has been dormant for awhile but 2015 will bring it back to life so jump on board, pass the word and feel free to contact me about anything you read or ideas you may have for a topic. Thanks for stopping by, poke around and enjoy. Autographed copies of all my books are available here, simply click on Raymond Sinibaldi and email me.
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