Tinker to Evers to Chance, Part 3

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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."

-- Written by Franklin P. Adams and first published in the New York Evening Mail on July 12, 1910; republished many times with a different title: "BASEBALL'S SAD LEXICON"


And exactly how made double plays did Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and Frank Chance, in that order, execute against the Giants?

Based on my study of the box scores of every game the trio played together, between 1902 and 1912, the answer is . . . 14 -- 6 at home and 8 on the road.

The 1 that prompted Adams' poem came in Chicago. It was the only 1 they made against the Giants at the West Side Grounds in 1910.

The Cubs had lost the first 2 games of the series, falling by 3-7 on Saturday and 9-10 on Sunday. The defeats left them only half a game ahead of the Giants, and only because the Cubs had 1 more win, 43-42, as both had 26 losses.

Another setback in the series finale would cost the Cubs first place.

There had been huge crowds for the weekend games, 20,000 and 28,500. Fewer than half as many, 13,500, turned out on Monday.



After a scoreless first inning, Chance began the Cubs' second by hitting a line drive to left center. When the ball got past outfielder Cy Seymour, Chance reached second. He went to third on a groundout, then started for home on a sharply hit ball up the middle by Solly Hofman.

"But [pitcher Doc] Crandall stabbed it with one fist and headed off the run," I.E. Sanborn wrote in the next day's Chicago Tribune. "Chance turned back to give Hofman time to get within scoring distance, then made a desperate plunge for the plate.

"[Third baseman Art] Devlin handed [catcher Jack "Chief"] Meyers the ball in time, but the Indian dropped it and Frank sat squarely down on it over the plate. For an instant every one was in a quandary over what had come off until Frank smilingly produced the missing sphere.

"Hofman reached second and Tinker immediately scored him with an elegant single to center."



In the third, Frank Schulte smacked a 2-out single, stole second and came home on a hit by Chance.

The Giants got a run off Cubs starter Lew Richie in the fifth, on a walk, a single, a bunt and a sacrifice fly.

After the Cubs loaded the bases, Harry Steinfeldt's single drove home a run but the runner on second was thrown out at home, leaving the score 4-1.

The score was the same when the Giants came to bat in the eighth.

Larry Doyle drew a leadoff walk "and was forced at second on [Red] Murray's grounder, but Tinker's effort for a double play was a throw against the stand, letting Murray to second.

"Seymour singled to left, but Murray dared not go home. [Beals] Becker replaced Si on the circuit [i.e., at third base] and [Al] Bridwell turned loose his third swat, scoring Murray."



With 1 out, a runner on first, and the Cubs ahead, 4-2, the stage was set for the play that would inspire Adams' poem.

Devlin hit a ball sharply to Tinker, who fired it toward Evers, who was racing toward second base. Evers gloved it while touching the bag, pivoted and rifled it to Chance at first to end the inning.

The Giants got a 1-out double in the ninth, but Richie struck out the next batter, then Tinker fielded a grounder and threw to Chance to complete the hard-earned victory.


Sanborn's account of the game in the Tribune began this way:

"Just as they have done so often before in the last half decade, when everybody else thought they were on the run, 'Frank Chance's Celebrated Chicago Champion Cubs' rallied gamely in the last ditch yesterday, and with the same old unbeaten spirit, and repulsed successfully the confident onset of the frothing Giants, thereby putting it beyond the realm of possibility for New York to knock us out of the lead in this series."



The Giants never did seize the lead from the Cubs.

Both teams were idle on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, both lost.

On Thursday, the Giants lost again. So did the Cubs, in Game 1 of a doubleheader, but they scored a run in the bottom of the ninth to earn a split.

The walk-off win ignited a 15-2 surge through the end of the month that earned the Cubs a 6.5-game over the Giants by the time the teams began a 4-game series at the Polo Grounds in New York on Tuesday, Aug. 2.

Tinker, Evers and Chance pulled off a double play during the first game, won by the Cubs, 5-4.

Then next day, they made another in that order, plus one that went Evers to Tinker to Chance, as the Cubs blanked the Giants, 3-0.

Those were the Cubs' only 3 double plays in those games. They did not make any in Game 3, a 5-1 victory, or in a 1-10 loss that concluded the series.

The Cubs left town with a cushion of 8.5 games over the Giants -- and 8 over the Pirates, who had moved into second place.

The Giants eventually regained the runnerup spot, as their 91-63 record was 4.5 games better than the Pirates' 86-67.

But New York languished 13 games behind the champion Cubs, who wound up 104-50.



The double plays Aug. 2 and 3 were the last that Tinker, Evers and Chance ever made against the Giants.

In fact, after that series ended, all 3 members of the trio were on the field for the Giants in just 1 of 8 subsequent games between teams in 1910 and in none of the 22 in 1911.

Chance was forced to retire after 2 games at Cincinnati to begin the 1912 schedule.


Chance had been out of action, too, when the Cubs and Giants squared off in back-to-back doubleheaders on Sept. 10-11, 1902. Those were the first games between the teams after Evers joined the Cubs on Sept. 1.

Chance had been with the Cubs since 1898. Tinker had made his debut on Opening Day of 1902.



From Tinker's first game against the Giants, through the end of 1911, the teams played 204 times.

Chance sat out 53 of those games -- more than one quarter.

Evers missed 37, more than 1 of every 6; Tinker, only 10, less than 1 of every 20.

That's a combined 100 games.

In 27 specific games, 2 of the 3 were on the sidelines.

Evers and Chance both were absent in the first 3 games of 1905, a late August game in 1910 and the last 18 games of 1911.

Tinker and Chance missed a June game in 1909 and the first 4 games of 1910.

Tinker and Evers never were out of the lineup for the same game against the Giants.


At least 1 of the 3 did not play in 73 of the 204 total games -- more than one third.

34 of all 73 games in which the trio was not intact took place in 1910-11: 12, then all 22.

So did 57 of the 100 combined games missed: 17, then 40.

In only 1 previous season had they collectively missed more than 8 games against the Giants: 14, in 1905, when Evers was unavailable for 11 games and Chance for 3.

The 8 games were in 1907: 6 by Chance and 1 each by Tinker and Evers.

That was the highest number among 5 full seasons in which no more than 1 of the 3 ever missed any individual game.


In 1908, Tinker was the only 1 of the trio who did not play in every game against Giants. He sat out the finale of a 4-game series at New York on June 22.

Chance missed 2 games against the Giants in 1904 and 3 in 1906, while Tinker and Evers played in them all.



As noted near the top of this post, Tinker, Evers and Chance completed 14 double plays in that order against the Giants. Here are the seasons in which they made them and where the games were played:

1903: 1 at New York

1904: 1 at New York

1905: 1 at Chicago and 1 at New York (2 in game)

1906: none

1907: 2 at Chicago and 2 at New York

1908: 1 at Chicago

1909: 1 at Chicago

1910 1 at Chicago and 2 at New York

That is a total of 13 games, 6 at Chicago and 7 at New York, out of 131 in which all 3 were on the field -- 1 of every 10.


The only game in which they did it twice was on July 14, 1905. The Cubs took a 2-0 lead in the second inning, with Evers driving in the first run, but gave up a run the seventh, then 2 in the ninth, the second with 2 out, and lost, 2-3.

Those were the third and fourth of their 14 Tinker-Evers-Chance double plays against the Giants.

Their first at home came on Sept. 23, in a 7-4 victory.

Their last at home, as described, was the one on July 11, 1910, that inspired the poem about them.



In addition to the 14 Tinker-Evers-Chance double plays, they made 6 against the Giants by Evers-Tinker-Chance: 2 at home, in 1904 and 1908, and 4 on the road, in 1904, 1908, 1909 and 1910.

In both orders combined, then, they got 2 outs as a trio against the Giants 20 times. They did it a combined of 51 times against the 6 other National League teams.

But those 20 weren't all the double plays against the Giants that involved Tinker, Evers and Chance but none of their teammates.

They made 21 more in pairs: 10 by Evers and Chance, 6 by Tinker and Chance, 2 by Evers and Tinker, 2 by Chance and Tinker, and 1 by Tinker and Evers.

Also, Tinker made 2 unassisted double plays against the Giants and Evers made 1.

Add those and you have 44 total double plays featuring only the members of the trio, made in 9 different ways.

They made 20 of them at the West Side Grounds and 24 at the Polo Grounds.



Those 44 double plays were the most made by Tinker, Evers and/or Chance against any team.

They were not the most either at home or on the road.

At home, they turned 21 against Boston, which between 1902 and 1912 was known in various seasons as the Beaneaters, Doves, Rustlers and Braves.

They turned 20 against the Pirates, matching their total against the Giants.

They did it 25 times at St. Louis, 1 more than at New York.



The 20 combined double plays by Tinker-Evers-Chance and Evers-Tinker-Chance against the Giants represent 45.5 percent of the total 44 double plays they made, individually, in tandem or as a trio vs. New York.

That is the second LOWEST such percentage by them against any of their 7 rivals!

The lowest, just 31 percent, was against Brooklyn: 9 of 29

The percentages for other teams, from lowest to highest:

48.5: Cincinnati (16 of 33)

48.5: Pittsburgh (16 of 33)

52.5: Boston (21 of 40)

54.3: Philadelphia 19 of 35)

55.6: St. Louis (20 of 36)


Forty percent of the double plays made by any or all of the trio against the Giants at home were Tinker-Evers-Chance or Evers-Tinker-Chance, 8 of 20. That also is second lowest, ahead only of 33.3 percent vs. Boston (4 of 12).

St. Louis was by far the highest percentage at home, 81.8 (9 of 11).

Half the 24 double plays the 3 men participated in at New York featured all of them in either order (12 of 24).

That 50 percent was surpassed at Pittsburgh (53.8, 7 of 13) and at Boston(52.6, 10 of 19).

The lowest percentage on the road was 29.4, at Brooklyn (5 of 17).


Tinker, Evers and/or Chance did make double plays in more games against the Giants than against any other team: 37, 2 more than against Boston.

They had the most games both with a double play against the Giants both at home (19) and on the road (18), each number 1 more than against Boston.

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