Tristram “Tris” Speaker began his storied career as an outfielder for the Boston Red Sox in 1907, when his contract was purchased from the Houston club of the North Texas League. Two years later, in 1909, Speaker became the everyday center fielder for Boston and is remembered today more for his superb defensive skills, despite a batting average of .337 during his nine years with the Red Sox, third in team history behind only fellow Red Sox Hall of Fame players Ted Williams and Wade Boggs.
As part of one of the greatest outfielder platoons in baseball history with Duffy Lewis in left field and Harry Hooper in right, Speaker made 64 of his 139 career double plays and 207 of his 449 career outfield assists during his Boston tenure. Part of the reason for his amazing success was because he played a shallow center field, almost daring batters to try and hit one over his head.
At the plate, Speaker amassed 1327 of the 3514 hits he would collect in his career in a Red Sox uniform. His hustle in the outfield also translated to the base paths; he is also second in team history for triples with 106 and stolen bases with 267, second only to Hooper in both categories. Speaker was also part of two World Series championships with Boston in 1912 and 1915 and batted .298 with a double, three triples, and two RBI in post-season play.
After the 1915 season, Speaker was traded to the Cleveland Indians for pitcher Sad Sam Jones, minor league player Fred Thomas, and $55,000 cash; Speaker went on to enjoy the next 11 seasons with Cleveland and retired in 1928 after stops in Washington and Philadelphia. He also celebrated one more World Series championship as a member of the Indians in 1920. In 1937, Speaker was among the first eight players enshrined in baseball’s Hall of Fame.