35 outfield assists by Tris Speaker 1910 and 1912
Yup. That’s another team record.
Yup. It’s another team record that won’t be broken.
Even crazier? He had 30 assists in 1913,and 29 in 1914. That’s just insane. I’ve mentioned before that I always wondered why people didn’t just stop running on him. I mean. Usually the best outfielders have low assists because runners don’t even try. So, I wondered if Speaker had the kind of arm that people kept trying. But, after 30 of them? I think it’d be time to change the plan. Then I found out the real reason. He got lots of those assists on double plays. As the pivot man.
His speed (and the dead ball era) allowed him to play so close, that he could be the pivot man on a 6-8-3 double play. I don’t care how fast you are, or what era you’re in. That’s pretty close.
I know that many things about Fenway have changed since Tris Speaker roamed the outfield. But, the dimensions are the same. Sometimes when I’m sitting in the stands and looking out at the field, I wonder just how close he would need to play in order to make the pivot. I assume he wasn’t on the infield dirt. Five steps back? Ten? Did he get assists on a lot of 8-3 groundouts?
Which always leads to another question. If people didn’t hit the ball far enough to make Speaker play more than 5-10 steps behind the infield, why is the centerfield fence 420 feet away? Why would they waste all that space? If the left field wall was 310 feet away and people, wrongly, assumed nobody would ever reach it, why was center so deep?
Was it because people did hit it out there? Was Speaker just that good? Were hits out that far just that rare? Speaker was part of the golden outfield at that point. Could the other two outfielder cover for him on the rare instance that one went to deep center? Could the Red Sox do that today? I wonder how shallow someone like Mookie Betts play in center if Bradley was covering for him in right? How many balls really go out there? Would it be worth the trade-off of cutting down every ball up the middle?
Of course, Brock Holt isn’t a baseball legend.
35 is for the 35 assists by Tris Speaker in 1910 and 1912.