In the famous game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, the idea is to connect folks to the famous actor within six steps.
Blane Cottrell is within six degrees of Tris Speaker. In fact, the 9-year-old third-grader at Mansfield's J.L. Boren Elementary School is three degrees removed as the great-great-great nephew of the Hall of Fame baseball player.
And he didn't even know it, until recently.
"I was kind of confused when I found out, and mostly excited," Blane said. "That was my first time to hear of him."
Blane found out recently when his grandmother, Jan Liedtke, was doing some genealogical research on the internet. She was looking into her mother's side of the family and made the discovery.
"There's a lot of history in baseball, and it's cool to be a part of that," she said.
Speaker, from Hubbard, lived from 1888 to 1958. He played minor league ball in Texas and Arkansas before joining the Boston Red Sox in 1907 and helping them win the World Series in 1912 and 1915. He also helped the Cleveland Indians to a world championship in 1920.
Speaker was a player-manager in Cleveland. He also played for the Washington Senators and was inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937 with a lifetime batting average of .345.
Ironically, Blane also plays for the Red Sox, his Mansfield youth baseball team.
"The coincidence is cool," Blane said.
"We were surprised by it, but it's really cool," Blane's mother, Jennifer Cottrell, said "He (Blane) was pretty star-struck."
Jennifer found a photo online of Speaker, Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth together. She said it was fun explaining their history, and Blane had an interesting question about Babe Ruth.
"One of his first questions was, 'You mean like the candy bar?'" she said. "I died laughing over that."
Speaker played mostly center field. Blane, in his fifth playing baseball, has played a variety of positions, including that one, but catcher is his favorite.
"You're in control of the whole field pretty much and there's a lot of action there," he said.
Jennifer said his team won a championship last season in coach-pitch.
Blane comes from a line of athletes. His mom played basketball and volleyball for Mansfield, his dad Lee played football in Mansfield, Jennifer's dad played baseball in Mansfield, and Lee's father played football in New Mexico.
Blane's uncle Aaron Cottrell is the head boys soccer coach at Keller Central, formerly at Mansfield Legacy. Blane's sister Kylie, a sixth-grader, is a swimmer.
And, another discovery by his grandmother uncovered his great-great uncle was Tex Jeanes, from Maypearl, who played for the Cleveland Indians, Washington Senators and the New York Giants in the 1920s.
Blane said he plans to experiment with other sports.
"Whenever baseball season is over, Mom says she's going to sign me up for karate," he said, adding that Tae Kwon Do and soccer are also on the list, along with flag football.
And while he loves baseball, if he had his druthers, he fancies playing another sport as a pro.
Yeah, my mom doesn't like this idea, but I think I'd like to play in the NFL," he said. "Quarterback or wide receiver."