Updated 7:20 AM on Sunday, September 23, 2007
Texan was a baseball legend
By Glenn Dromgoole
When the first class was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., a Texan from the small town of Hubbard was one of 14 men recognized.
Others in the class - Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and Cy Young - have maintained their fame better than Tris Speaker, the subject of an extensive biography, Spoke, by former Texan Charles C. Alexander (Southern Methodist University Press, $25.95 hardcover).
The author, who grew up in the Beaumont-area town of China, has written about other baseball notables such as Ty Cobb, John McGraw and another Texan, Rogers Hornsby.
Speaker's .345 lifetime batting average ranks him fifth all-time, and he was considered one of the greatest defensive centerfielders ever. But he played a long time ago, from 1907 to 1928.
When Sporting News ranked the 100 greatest baseball players in 1999, Speaker came in 28th. Another ranking, using a system called the Total Player Rating, placed him eighth all-time in value to his team.
In his book, Alexander wrote, "I have repeatedly had the experience of telling someone that I was working on a biography of Tris Speaker - and getting a blank stare."
But Alexander asserts that "Speaker was a titan in his time."
"When Speaker's playing career ended," Alexander wrote, "he was almost universally conceded to be the greatest centerfielder ever."
Speaker was naturally right-handed but an injury (he was thrown from a horse) at age 10 led him to begin throwing and batting left-handed, which he did the rest of his life.
Speaker was born in either 1888 or 1889 in Hubbard, started his pro baseball career in Texas with Cleburne, and died during a fishing trip at Lake Whitney in 1958.
PAUL NEWBERRY, AP Sports Writer
Chipper Jones' new son has a name: Tris, a nod to Hall of Famer Tris Speaker.
Tristan Clay Jones was born Tuesday, but his parents took a few days to settle on a name. Sharon Jones wanted to bond with the couple's third son before making it official.
Chipper was certainly in agreement with Tris, knowing that Tris Speaker was one of the greatest players in baseball history. He had a career average of .344 in a 20-year career.
Actually, Speaker's first name was Tristram, but Tristan is close enough for his father.