This Week in Cubs History: Tinker to Evers to Chance

In this week’s edition of This Week in Cubs History, we look at the 1910 publication of “Baseball’s Sad Lexicon” that popularized the most famous double-play combo of all time.

On July 12, 1910, New York columnist Franklin P. Adams published the poem, “That Double Play Again?” (the title was changed to “Baseball’s Sad Lexicon” when it was republished on July 18). The poem is written from the perspective of a New York Giants fan watching the Cubs turn a double play with shortstop Joe Tinker, second baseman Johnny Evers and first baseman Frank Chance.

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.’

The poem reflects the efficiency of the now-famous trio of Tinker, Evers, and Chance, who combined for 491 double plays between 1906 and 1910. During their time together with the Cubs, they won four National League pennants (1906, 1907, 1908 and 1910) and two World Series titles (1907 and 1908).

Tinker spent 17 seasons in the big leagues, slashing .296/.394/.394 in his career. Tinker spent 12 of his 15 seasons with the Cubs and finished with a career slash of .262/.308/.353. Evers spent 18 seasons in the majors with a .270/.356/.334 slash. All three players were unanimously voted into the Hall of Fame in 1946 by the Veteran’s Committee.

Although these men were not the biggest power hitters, their excellent defense is what solidifies them as one of the great double-play trios in baseball history. Tinker, Evers, and Chance had the highest league fielding percentage at their respective positions multiple times throughout their long careers.

The game has changed a lot in 108 years, but some things remain the same. Just as they were when that famous poem was first published, the Cubs are only two years removed from a World Series title and they feature a dynamic double-play combo. Perhaps a century from now, people will still be talking about Baez to Russell to Rizzo.

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