Tristram (Tris) E. Speaker was born in 1888 in Hubbard, where he attended school and acquired his lifelong passion for the game of baseball. After breaking his right arm in a fall from a horse, he became left-handed. A second accident, this time playing football, injured his left arm and the doctors advised amputation, but he refused and fully recovered.
After graduating from Hubbard High School and attending Fort Worth Polytechnic Institute, his first break came when he signed on as a pitcher for the Cleburne Railroaders of the Texas League for $50 per month. He soon moved to outfield, and then to a Houston team in the same league. His big break came in 1907 when the Boston Red Sox bought his contract. His mother was not happy to see him move that far from home to play baseball but he felt that this was his big chance.
| "Million Dollar Outfield"|
Harry Hooper, Tris Speaker, and Duffy Lewis
While in Boston for eight years, he was a key player on the 1912 and 1915 World Series championship teams. In the latter series, Speaker played alongside Babe Ruth, who was pitching in his first full season. Speaker played center field, and because of his speed, he could play just 50 feet behind second base. Along with Duffy Lewis and Harry Hooper, the "Million Dollar Outfield" was one of the finest outfield trios in baseball history.
| Tris Speaker and his mother, Jenny. |
After Cleveland won the World Series,
October 4, 1920
In 1916, he was traded to the Cleveland Indians, where he played for 11 years, 8 of them as a player-manager. He set numerous records, and led the team to the World Series championship in 1920. His career batting average was .345, with 3,514 hits and 1,529 runs batted in.
Speaker always loved his hometown, and was a lifelong member of the Hubbard VFD, returning home every year for a visit. At one time during his career in Cleveland, he brought the team "home" to play an exhibition game for friends and family.
|Liberty Bond Poster|
During World War I, the United States government sold Liberty Bonds [more] to raise money for the war efforts. One of the highest honors ever conferred to a ballplayer came when Tris Speaker was selected to set the ball rolling in Uncle Sam’s second Liberty Bond campaign by buying the first bond.
Secretary of the Treasury William McAdoo came to Cleveland and the Public Square was packed as he made his speech. He appealed to the nation to respond as liberally to the second bond appeal as it had to the first. Speaker then stepped forward and McAdoo handed him the serial number 1 bond with a denomination of $1000. Speaker exchanged this for his personal check while the crowd cheered.
"Every $50 Bond that a citizen buys is a base hit against our enemies,” McAdoo said, “and every four Bonds scores a home run. Tris Speaker has scored five home runs the first day. Let Cleveland’s batting average in the league of liberty be of championship caliber."
After 22 seasons playing major baseball, he ended his career in 1928 after a year with the Washington Senators and a year with the Philadelphia Athletics. Nine years later, he was the first Texan elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame with over 80% of the votes.
Speaker’s hair had turned gray at an early age, and his speed in the outfield was unmatched. With his silvery hair and the grace and speed of an eagle, he became known as the "Gray Eagle" to fans around the world.