Tinker to Evers to Chance, Part 2

Second of 3 posts


As promised in yesterday's posts, here are the results of my research, which required examining more than 1,000 box scores, of what shortstop Joe Tinker, second baseman Johnny Evers and first baseman Frank Chance actually did while all were members of the Orphans in September of 1902, and of the Cubs in 1903-12.

There are a lot of numbers, many of which may surprise, but there is almost no math!



Chance joined the Cubs in 1898, Tinker on Opening Day of 1902 and Evers on Sept. 1, 1902.

Their first game together was Evers' debut, in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Philadelphia. He played short that day, with Tinker at third and Bobby Lowe at second.

Tinker, Evers and Chance first appeared a short, second and first, respectively, on Sept. 13, at home, in a 12-0 rout of the Cardinals.

Their last game together was on April 12, 1912, at Cincinnati.

A day earlier, the Cubs had helped the Reds to inaugurate Redland Field, which would remain their home park until June 24, 1970. Starting in 1934, it was called Crosley Field.

The Cubs gave up a run in the first inning of the park's first game, then scored 5 in the third, only to give up 6 in the fourth and lose, 6-10, to the delight of the throng of 23,500.

The next day, the Cubs lost again, 2-3. The Cubs made 1 double play, started not by Tinker, but by third baseman Ed Lennox.


(9 X 9 X 9) - 1

That was the 728th game in which Tinker, Evers and Chance were on the field together at short, second and first. There were 3 more in which Chance was catcher and 16 in which he pinch hit.

No. 728 proved to be their last as a trio. Chance, who had suffered for years as a result of repeated beanings, was forced to retire the next day.


From Evers' first game to Chance's last, the Cubs as a team played 1,414 games.

So, the famous double play combination actually was together for barely more than half of their games, 51.5 percent!


Chance played in 973 of the 1,414 games, which is 68.8 percent. He was at first base for 954, 67.5 percent -- slightly more than two thirds of all games.

Evers played in 1,134 games, 80.2 percent, and was second for 1,108 of them, 78.4 percent -- a little less than 4 of every 5. He played 23 games at short and pinch hit in 3 games.

Tinker played in 1,364 games, 96.5 percent -- more than 19 of every 20. He played 28 games at third, pinch hit in 7, played right in 1 and pinch ran in 1.

So, Tinker appeared in 391 more games than Chance, a whopping 40.2 percent more, and 230 more, 20.3 percent, than Evers.

Evers saw action in 161 more than Chance, 16.5 percent.

Collectively, they saw action in 3,471 of a possible 4,242 games (1,414 times 3), which is 82.5 percent.



To calculate the number of games they played together at short, second and first, I studied the box scores of all 954 games in which Chance played first, to see whether Tinker and/or Evers also played that day.

Tinker was not in the field in 100 of the 954 games, 10.5 percent.

Evers was missing in 129 of them, 13.5 percent.

Remarkably, those numbers include only 3 games in which Tinker and Evers both were absent and Chance played: May 16-17, 1911, at Brooklyn, and the next day at Philadelphia.

100 plus 129, minus 3, makes 226 distinct games. Subtract 226 from 954 and you get 728 games when each of the future Hall of Famers manned his usual position.


Here is how many games they played together in each season:

1902: 13

1903: 82

1904: 107

1905: 74

1906: 130

1907: 70

1908: 100

1909: 70

1910: 68

1911: 12

1912: 2


As you can see, they exceeded 82 games in only 3 seasons: 1904, 1906 and 1908.

They played together 337 times those seasons, which is 46.2 percent of the 728 in the 9 full seasons they were teammates, 1903-1911, plus the 2 partial seasons, 1902 and 1912.

They averaged 112 games in those 3 seasons, but just 49 in the remaining 8. In the 6 with fewer than 100, excluding the first and last, they averaged 63.



Exactly how many double plays did Tinker, Evers and Chance execute in their 728 games together?

By my count, exactly 250, or a tad more than 1 every 3 games.

That is the total of every double play made by them individually, as a tandem, or as a trio, without any other teammates taking part.

They made 41 in 1904, then 48 during the Cubs' record-setting 116-win 1906 season. They made as many as 34 in only 1 other season, 1908.

Those 3 seasons added up 123 double plays, almost half of all 250.

They had no more than 28 in any the remaining seasons.

They took part in an average of 25 double plays in the 10 years, 1902-11, and an average of 30 in the 8 full seasons, 1903-10.



Of those 250 double plays, just 71, less than one third of all double plays, were in the order of Tinker to Evers to Chance, as memorialized in the famous poem, "Baseball's Sad Lexicon."

They made 1 that way in their 13 games at those positions in 1902, 2 in their 12 games in 1911 and none in their 2 games in 1912.

In the 8 seasons from 1903-10, then, made 68, an average of 8.5 per year.

The most they made in any year was 12, in 1904. They made 10 in 3 other seasons: 1906, 1907 and 1910, for a total of 42 of all 71, almost 60 percent, in just 4 years.

Their fewest in 1903-10 was 5, in 1909, followed by 6, in 1905; 7, in 1908; and 8, in 1903.



In addition to the 71 that went Tinker to Evers and Chance, the trio collaborated on 50 that went Evers to Tinker to Chance.

They made 12 of those in 1906, matching their single-season high by Tinker to Evers to Chance set 2 years earlier.

They made no more than 8 that were started by Evers in any other season.

34 of the 50 came in 4 seasons: 1904-06 and 1908.



Here, in chronological order, is how many total double plays involved Tinker, Evers and/or Chance in each season, followed by the number that went Tinker-Evers-Chance, the number that went Evers-Tinker-Chance, then the total of those 2 combinations and the percentage that represents of all double plays:

1902: 4, 1 and 0 = 1, 25 percent

1903: 26, 8 and 6 = 14, 54 percent

1904: 41, 12 and 7 = 19, 46 percent

1905: 25, 6 and 7 = 13, 52 percent

1906: 48, 10 and 12 = 22, 46 percent

1907: 28, 10 and 5 = 15, 54 percent

1908: 34, 7 and 8 = 15, 44 percent

1909: 20, 5 and 2 = 7, 35 percent

1910: 19, 10 and 2 = 12, 63 percent

1911: 5, 2 and 1 = 3, 60 percent

TOTAL: 250, 71 and 50 = 121, 48 percent



As you see, fewer than half of all the double plays featuring any of the trio and nobody else went Tinker-Evers-Chance or Evers-Tinker-Chance.

Of note, in 3 seasons (1905, 1906 and 1908), they made more 3-man double plays started by Evers than by Tinker, 27-23.

In 1905-09, Tinker began 38 and Evers 34.



The 50 double plays that went Evers-Tinker-Chance actually were 1 less than were made just by Tinker and Chance.

Evers and Chance alone made 46.

Runners on first base must have been pretty bad in that era.

Relatively few 4-3 double plays in later years have been made by the second baseman fielding a ball, stepping on second and throwing to first. Instead, the second baseman either catches a line drive and throws to first, to double the runner off the bag, or tags the runner heading for second, then throw to first to retire the batter.



Tinker, Evers and/or Chance made 32 double plays in 10 more ways, for a total of 14 different methods by which they recorded 2 outs at once.

Among the 32 were 1 each that went Tinker-Chance-Evers and Evers-Chance-Tinker.

Here are all 14 ways members of the trio pulled off double plays, from most to least frequent:

71: Tinker-Evers-Chance

51: Tinker-Chance

50: Evers-Tinker-Chance

46: Evers-Chance

6: Evers-Tinker

4: Tinker-Evers

4: Tinker unassisted

4: Evers unassisted

4: Chance-Tinker

3: Chance-Tinker-Chance

3: Chance unassisted

2: Chance-Evers

1: Tinker-Chance-Evers

1: Evers-Chance-Tinker


Tinker started 127 double plays, besides his 4 that were unassisted.

Evers started 103; Chance, 9.

Evers was the pivot man on 71; Tinker, 53; Chance, 2.

Chance made the second out on 221 double plays other than his 3 that were unassisted. Tinker did so on 11; Evers, on 7.



The 250 double plays by any any combination of the 3 players came in 207 separate games:

1902: 4

1903: 22

1904: 36

1905: 18

1906: 37

1907: 22

1908: 30

1909: 18

1910: 15

1911: 5


They did it Tinker-Evers-Chance twice in 4 games, 1 each in 1905 and 1906, then on April 28 and July 3 of 1910.

In 63 games, they turned 2 in that order once, for a total of 67 games of Tinker-Evers-Chance, or 30.4 percent of the 207 games in which they made any double plays -- and 9.2 percent, less than 1 of 10, of their 728 games together in the field.

Twice, in 1905 and 1906, they pulled off a pair of Evers-Tinker-Chance double plays in a game.

They did that once in 46 games, for a total of 50 games in that order, or 24.2 percent of games with a double play and just 6.9 percent, less than 1 of 14, of the 728 games together.



They combined for 4 double plays without assistance from any teammates in 1 of those 728 games, on June 24, 1905, at St. Louis.

They needed the equivalent of 2 full games to do it, as they outlasted the Cardinals, 2-1, in 18 innings that took only 3 hours, 10 minutes to complete.

The double plays went:





The Cubs had a fifth double play in the game. It went Chance-catcher Johnny Kling-Chance.



In 4 more games, Tinker, Evers and/or Chance made 3 double plays.

The first came in 1904, the next 2 just 2 days apart in 1906, and the last in 1908.

Here they are, in order, with how the double plays were made:

May 15, 1904, in 4-2 win at home over Phillies:

Evers unassisted, Tinker-Evers-Chance, Tinker-Chance

April 27, 1906, in 7-6, 12-inning win at home over Reds:

Chance-Tinker-Chance, Evers-Tinker, Evers-Tinker-Chance

(Cubs also made double play, third baseman Harry Steinfeldt-Kling-Chance)

April 29, 1906, in 4-2 win at St. Louis:

Tinker-Evers-Chance twice, Tinker-Chance

Sept. 23, 1908, in 1-1 tie at New York:

Tinker-Evers-Chance twice, Evers-Chance



You might recognize the date and score of the last of those games. It was the celebrated "Merkle's Boner" game, in which Giants rookie Fred Merkle did not touch second on a 2-out hit in the ninth inning that appeared to score the winning run from third.

Merkle's action had been commonplace for many years. The Cubs had appealed a similar situation in the 10th inning at Pittsburgh on Sept. 4, without success.

But this time the umpire agreed with the Cubs and declared the game a tie because the crowd of 20,000 had overrun the field.

The Giants protested, but the ruling was upheld and the game was ordered to be replayed, if necessary, at the end of the season.

The Cubs and Giants had identical 98-55 records after completing the rest of their schedules, so they replayed the game on Oct. 8 at the Polo Grounds.

The Cubs won game, 4-2, and the pennant. They made 1 double play in doing so, Kling to Chance.



In 32 games, Tinker, Evers and/or Chance made a pair of double plays, including 11 in which both involved all 3 men: 4 with a pair of Tinker-Evers-Chance, 2 with a pair of Evers-Tinker-Chance, and 5 with 1 of each.

They made a single double play in 170 games, of which 99 were by the trio: 58 Tinker-Evers-Chance and 41 Evers-Tinker-Chance.



More than half of the 250 doubles plays featuring any or all of the trio came on the road.

Here is a breakdown by site and type:

122 at home: 33 Tinker-Evers-Chance and 30 Evers-Tinker-Chance = 63, 51.6 percent

128 on road: 38 Tinker-Evers-Chance and 20 Evers-Tinker-Chance = 58, 45.3 percent



Here is the total number of double plays involving the 3 men and nobody else, by opponent, from most to least, with the number at home and on the road in parentheses:

44: New York (20/24)

40: Boston (21/19)

36: St. Louis (11/25)

35: Philadelphia (21/14)

33: Cincinnati (17/16)

33: Pittsburgh (20/13)

29: Brooklyn (12/17)

Average: 35 (17/18)

Note that against Boston, Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, there were 79 double plays at home and 62 on the road -- 56 percent at home.

But against Brooklyn, New York and St. Louis, there were only 43 at home and 66 on the road -- just 39 percent at home.



Here is how many individual games in which Tinker, Evers and Chance made double plays, by opponent, from most to least, with the number of games at home and on the road in parentheses:

37: New York (19/18)

35: Boston (18/17)

29: St. Louis (10/19)

27: Cincinnati (14/13)

27: Philadelphia (17/10)

26: Brooklyn (11/15)

26: Pittsburgh (14/12)

So, in all 728 games that they played together, Tinker, Evers and Chance made a double play without any help from a teammate, in exactly 1 more game on the road than they did at home, 104 to 103!


TOMORROW: "Making a Giant hit into a double"

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