Often paired with Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker would have been the batting champion nearly every year he played, if only he hadn’t been playing in the same era as the Georgia Peach. Coming up with the Boston Red Sox in 1907, the first year Cobb led the AL in batting, Speaker hit better than .300 18 out of the 22 years he played. Already a star, he had an MVP year in 1912, pacing the league in doubles and home runs and batting .383 (Cobb hit .409 that year). Speaker’s specialty was doubles, leading the league eight times and still holding the career record with 792, fifty more than runner up Pete Rose and two hundred and forty more than active leader Derek Jeter. In April 1916 Speaker was traded to the Cleveland Indians and he responded by winning a batting crown with a .386 average, the only year between 1907 and 1919 it wasn’t won by Cobb. His lifetime batting average of .345 ranks 6th all-time. Speaker finished his playing career with Connie Mack’s 1928 Philadelphia Athletics. There, he played alongside twenty-somethings Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Cochrane, Al Simmons and Lefty Grove as well as fellow forty year-olds Eddie Collins and, somewhat poignantly, his old rival Ty Cobb.
Speaker’s nickname was the Grey Eagle. His grave rests at the base of the cemetery flagpole. Atop the pole is a sculpture of an eagle landing, a fitting tribute to guide visitors to the grave of Hubbard’s favorite son.
January 6, 2014