The million-dollar outfield: Lewis, Speaker, Hooper
There have been many combinations of players that would at times, or in the future, define a team, a season, or even an entire franchise. Murderers Row always comes to mind, or The Atlanta Braves, pitching line up of the 90’s, but this trio I am referring to would also do all three of these things. They were called “The Million Dollar Outfield”, or “Golden Outfield” to some others, but either way they were priceless. They were the starting outfielders for the Boston Red Sox from 1910 to 1915. The three members were Duffy Lewis in left field, Tris Speaker in center field, and Harry Hooper in right field.
This dynamic threesome would help The Red Sox win two World Series titles, one in 1912 and the other in 1915. Speaker and Hooper would later be inducted into The National Baseball Hall Of Fame; Speaker would be a member of the very first class in 1937. They all were solid batters in the lineup and played the outfield like infielders some said. Speaker known by team mates and fans as “ Spoke “ or “ The Gray Eagle “ due to his hair turning gray prematurely, would play so shallow, that at times he could catch a pop fly and tag second for a double play, it would become his signature move. While with the Red Sox, Speakers led the AL in doubles, home runs, extra base hits, and on base percentage.
After a salary dispute with owner Joe Lannin, Speaker would head to the Cleveland Indians, where he would co-manage and play, and 1920 he led Cleveland to their first World Series title. Speaker would retire in 1928 with a career batting average of .345, 3,514 hits, 1,528 RBI, and a MLB record that has not been broken to this day, that consists of 792 career doubles. George Edward “ Duffy ” Lewis, the name synonymous with the famous “ Duffy’s Cliff “, a slope that rose into the left field wall of Fenway Park, which Lewis was so good at fielding balls off of it, so they named it “ Duffy’s Cliff “. Lewis a California native, attended St. Mary’s, and made his pro debut in 1910. In 11 seasons, Lewis batted .284 with 38 home runs, 793 RBI, 612 runs, 1518 hits, 289 doubles, 68 triples, and 113 stolen bases in 1459 games, finishing his career in 1921 with the Washington Senators. His .444 batting average in the 1915 World Series against the New York Giants is considered one of the greatest post season performances in franchise history. The famous bare- handed catch that robbed Larry Doyle of a home run in the 1912 World Series was just one of the many spectacular plays that our left fielder of this incredible triad made in his career, his name is Harry Hooper.
A famous saying about Hooper was that if the ball was hit into another country he could catch it, making Hoopers range seem unmatched. Like Lewis Hooper attended St. Mary’s in California and made his pro debut a year earlier in 1909. Hooper would win 4 World Series titles in 1912, 1915, 1916, and 1918. He holds franchise records in triples (130), and stolen bases (300), and on May 30, 1913 would be the first player in the major leagues to hit a leadoff home run in both games of a doubleheader which would be matched 80 years later by Hall Of Famer Rickey Henderson. His post- season performance would be forever remembered in Red Sox and major league history, for being the first player to hit two home runs in one game during The World Series in 1919. Hooper ended his career in 1925 with a .281 batting average, 75 home runs, 817 RBI, 2,466 hits, 389 doubles, 160 triples, 375 stolen bases in 2,309 games. He would be inducted into The National Baseball Hall Of Fame in 1971 to join Tris Speaker. Sadly Duffy Lewis would not make it into the Hall, due to poor voting percentages, but I am sure he is there in spirit.
The three out fielding phenoms defined what teamwork, professionalism, and pride in ones position on the diamond. So the next time you are watching a game, at home or in the stands, and an outfielder makes a spectacular play against the wall or fence, throws someone out with rocket from the outfield, or robs the opposing team of a home run, think about our “Million Dollar Outfield “, and do us a favor at Through The Fence Baseball, and please tip your hat not once but three times.