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Tris Speaker: The Rough-and-Tumble Life of a Baseball Legend Hardcover – January 1, 2006

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 318 pages
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press; First Edition edition (January 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803222068
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803222069
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #505,049 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Tristam "Spoke" Speaker sits, statistically, alongside baseball's greatest sluggers and fielders, but his story and name have largely been forgotten. Gay, in his first book, has unearthed the colorful history of this ne'er say die Texas cowboy, giving baseball fans a fresh look at the Hall of Fame center fielder whose colorful personality and remarkable talent were overshadowed by contemporaries like Ty Cobb and Cy Young. (Even the Speaker-Cobb-Wood-Leonard betting affair of 1919 was eclipsed in disgrace by the Black Sox gambling scandal.) Speaker still holds the mark for most career doubles-792, as a member of the Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians-and the shallow position he occupied just behind second base revolutionized the way outfield was played. From 1910-15, Speaker centered Boston's Golden Outfield of Duffy Lewis and Cat Hooper, and nearly 30 years after their final game together (the Golden boys shared the Sox outfield for nearly six seasons), scribe Grantland Rice called the trio "the greatest defensive outfield I ever saw." The phrase "where triples go to die" was originally penned of Speaker's glove, but history somehow misplaced the attribution to Joe Jackson. Gay has insured the righting of history with this biography. A worthwhile read for any sports fan.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Hall of Fame outfielder Speaker was a contemporary of Ty Cobb and Shoeless Joe Jackson. He wasn't quite their equal as a hitter, but he was far superior in the field. Off the field, however, he had nothing to match Cobb's psychotic, racist personality or Shoeless Joe's involvement in the Black Sox scandal and, thus, remains relatively forgotten. Gay hopes to change that with this first serious biography of Speaker. It's carefully researched and documented, engagingly written, and very illuminating. Speaker was both saint and sinner but never long enough to have either term permanently affixed to his name. At one time, he was every bit as racist as Cobb but was seldom outspoken, and, in later years as a Cleveland Indians coach, he tutored the American League's first black player, Larry Doby. And like Jackson, he most likely had a hand in a few shady gambling deals, but he was smart enough to not get caught. Gay has filled a serious gap in baseball history, and his effort compares favorably with Charles Alexander's acclaimed biographies of John McGraw and Ty Cobb. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

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Tris Speaker was a great player in a different era.
Dr. Schnittman
He was a great hitter and was regarded by his contemporaries as the finest CF ever.
Benjamin Meyer
For the baseball history buff, this book is a must read.
Bookworm Plus

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Pat M on December 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
A few years ago David McCullough brought John Adams out from the shadows of such better-known patriots as Jefferson, Washington, and Franklin. In much the same way Timothy M. Gay has cast a brilliant light on Tris Speaker, who has, unfortunately, languished in obscurity behind such greats as Cobb, Ruth, and even Shoeless Joe Jackson. In his chapters on Tris's playing days, Gay's language captures perfectly the voice of the early 20th century sports pages, and his well-researched and lively account of the gambling cloud that hovered over our National Pastime in its early years makes it clear that the Black Sox were just the tip of a corrupt iceberg. While he appropriately glorifies Tris's exploits on the field and at the plate, Gay's book is no hagiography. He brings important new research to the scandal that drove Speaker and Ty Cobb out of managing in the big leagues. He also addresses Speaker's undisguised jealousy of such younger stars as Babe Ruth and Joe Dimaggio. Gay not only gives us Speaker the player, he give us Tris Speaker the man, with all his contradictions. Gay explores how Tris's upbringing in a Texas town that revered its Confederate forefathers shaped his views on race and religion, leading to membership in the Klan and open warfare with his Irish-Catholic Red Sox teammates. Yet Speaker married an Irish Catholic girl and served as a mentor to Larry Doby, the American League's first African-American player. Whether you are a lover of baseball or a lover of American history, Timothy M. Gay's "Tris Speaker" will pull you in the way Spoke himself pulled in fly balls to center field.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Bill Emblom on February 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A biography of Tris Speaker has been long overdue. However, the wait has been worth it. Autor Timothy Gay has provided us with the definitive biograhy of one of baseball's immortals. Speaker's best years were spent chasing down fly balls for the Boston Red Sox and the Cleveland Indians. The phrase "where triples go to die" was originally written regarding Speaker and later attributed to Willie Mays of the Giants. As were many ball players at the turn of the 20th century Speaker was a product of his environment and times. Many players such as Cobb, Hornsby, and Speaker were from the south and displayed attitudes that were anti-African American. To his credit Speaker served as a defensive tutor to the American League's first black player, Larry Doby of the Cleveland Indians. The author does a thorough job in covering the unfortunate death in 1920 of Ray Chapman, Speaker's teammate when player/manager Speaker led the Tribe to the pennant and World Championship over the Brooklyn Dodgers. In 1919 Speaker, teammate Joe Wood, along with Ty Cobb and "Dutch" Leonard of the Tigers met under the stands at Navin Field supposedly to discuss letting the Tigers win a game that would ensure the Tigers of third place money. Since Leonard refused to face those he accused Commissioner Landis dismissed the case although both Cobb and Speaker were to retire quietly to avoid any controversy and not serve as either a player or coach of any major league team. Both Cobb and Speaker did later play one forgettable year together with Connie Mack's Athletics in 1928 when both players missed several games due to injuries.Read more ›
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Brookner on March 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Timothy Gay has cracked the code on how to write a good baseball biography. He blends the right amoung of baseball and personal life of his subject, who happens to be an interesting character, as well as one of baseball's greatest. Moreover, Gay has writing skills that put him at the top of the class for this genre of book.

Even having read many other bios of Spoke's contemporaries, and the classics like Glory of Their Times, I've never encountered much about Speaker's personality or background. Gay brings Spoke to life in all his glory (a champion rodeo rider as well as an initial Hall of Famer).

Maybe it helps that Gay has few axes to grind in choosing to write this book, unlike many whose purpose is to promote their subject into the HOF. He does go a bit over the top in blackguarding Ban Johnson. After all, Ban tried to cover up baseball's dirt, but punish the guilty, regardless of how famous they were (Cobb and Speaker's thrown game scandal). It was Landis who, to shame Johnson, made the scandal public until he suddenly realized he was harming the game. Then he diminished the punishment to scuff the ball that showed the crime (pardon the Tim Gay-like baseball phrasing).

I could have actually liked a few stories of Spoke's greatest games, but the World Series games he played in are almost the only ones described in detail. Still, I am grateful that Gay does not write his book from box scores. Notes: Chick Stahl committed suicide in Spring training, not mid-season (he couldn't bear the prospect of managing the Red Sox through another campaign), and Ray Chapman was a regular shortstop before Speaker arrived. 1916 was the only season he was shifted around the infield.
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