These are the saddest of possible words:
“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”
Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds,
Tinker and Evers and Chance.
Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble,
Making a Giant hit into a double –
Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble:
“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”
– Franklin Pierce Adams
New York Evening Mail July 10, 1910
Joe Tinker (SS), Johnny Evers (2B) and Frank Chance (1B) formed one of the greatest infields in major league history, forming a double play combination for the Chicago Cubs that ran from their first game together on 13th September 1902 through to April 1912.
The Cubs won the NL pennant four times between 1906 and 1910, often beating their rivals the New York Giants on their way to the World Series, and the defensive prowess of Tinker, Evers and Chance was instrumental in delivering the Cubs their only World Series victories in 1907 and 1908!
Here’s a look at their early T206 cards –
Despite their apparent harmonious Baseball relationship on the field things were apparently strained off it. It’s alleged that Tinker and Evers did not talk for many years following an on-field fist fight that erupted between the two of them in 1905 after Evers had supposedly taken a cab to the stadium leaving his teammates behind in their hotel lobby.
The above poem by Franklin Pierce Adams, which forms part of ‘Baseball’s Sad Lexicon’, was written in 1910 and published in the New York Evening Mail in 1912. Adams wrote the poem to try and appreciate what it must be like to be in the shoes of a Giants fan whenever they saw the trio turn a double play! It was seized upon by other writers who added more verses over the years.
Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and Frank Chance were all inducted into the Hall of Fame together in 1946. Many baseball writers at the time, and indeed since then, have attributed their joint induction to the power and mystique of Adams’ poem, for despite having the reputation as being a great infield combination, stats show that from 1906 through 1910 the “Tinker, to Evers, to Chance” double play happened only 54 times in 770 games played and the trio did not collaborate on a double play during any of their 21 World Series games!
Very few cards were produced of the trio from their playing days, apart from the T206 above and the T205 from 1911 –
Panini have put out some more modern card releases, including these three from last years 2012 Cooperstown Collection base set –
The trip also appear on the checklist of this years Golden Age Baseball base set alongside several insert sets, including my favourite – the playing cards!!!
So there it is! The very first ‘Old School’ post! I hope you enjoyed the trip into baseball’s past and I look forward to seeing you again next time when we look at a man who many argue to be one of the best, if not THE best, players of all time – Tyrus Raymond Cobb!