Tristram Speaker: "The Grey Eagle," "Spoke"
Tris Speaker revolutionized outfield play by positioning himself in shallow center field, which resulted in his recording more assists (450) than any other outfielder. Twice he threw out a record 35 American League baserunners in a single season. He also compiled a .345 lifetime batting average capped by a league-leading .386 in 1916. His best season was 1923, when he hit .380 and was runner-up to Babe Ruth for RBI honors with 130.
He had humble beginnings - bought in 1907 by the Red Sox for $750 from Houston of the Texas League, he did not hit, and the next spring, without a Boston contract, he was left behind at Little Rock as payment for the use of the training camp. But his quick Southern League success convinced the Red Sox to recall him, as previously agreed, for $500. Playing at the same time as Ruth, he was overshadowed for much his career; nevertheless, from 1910 to 1915 he was the leader of Boston's legendary outfield, which included Duffy Lewis and Harry Hooper, and made 161 of their record 455 assists. In Lewis's words, "Speaker was the king of the outfield ... It was always `Take it,' or `I got it.' In all the years we never bumped each other."
"It would be useless for any player to attempt to explain successful batting."
- Tris Speaker
"Cobb would have to play center field on my all time team. But where would that put Speaker?
In left. If I had them both, I would certainly play them that way."
- John McGraw
Picture from National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc.