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Tinker to Evers to Chance

This is a remarkable baseball story few know. It was written by one of the game’s serious historians, Gary Livacari, and excerpted here in part:

“We’re all familiar with the classic poem Baseball’s Sad Lexicon by Franklin Pierce Adams that immortalized the Cubs double play combination of ‘Tinkers to Evers to Chance.’ But not everyone is aware that a feud started between Tinker and Evers in 1905 and the two didn’t speak to each other for 33 years! On September 14, 1905, Tinker and Evers engaged in a fistfight on the field because, the story goes, ‘Evers had taken a cab to the stadium and left his teammates behind in the hotel lobby.’

“Thankfully, the feud eventually had a happy ending. In the great photo above, we see Joe Tinker and Johnny Evers reunited in 1937 at an Old-Timers game played at Wrigley Field. On that day, they dedicated a plaque to the memory of their deceased manager, Frank Chance, who had died in 1924.

“Here’s the heart-warming caption I found with the photo: ‘When Joe Tinker and Johnny Evers were reunited in Chicago in 1937, the two hadn’t seen each other in 14 years. Their bitter feud had mellowed and when they met in a Chicago hotel, and after a moment’s hesitation, they threw their arms around each other and cried.’

“What a beautiful scene that must have been!

“Here’s a little background information about the famous Cub double-play combination and the ‘feud’:

Tinker, Evers, and Chance first appeared in a game together on September 13, 1902 and turned their first double play two days later. Led by the famous trio, the Cubs won National League pennants in 1906, 1907, 1908, and 1910. Tinker and Evers worked so well together that some called them the ‘Siamese twins of baseball’ because ‘they play the bag as if they were one man, not two.’ The three played their final game together on April 12, 1912. All were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946. Their inductions have been credited to the fame generated by Adams’ poem.

“Despite their celebrated success at turning spectacular plays, relations between the teammates were said to have been often strained and they actually had a fistfight on the field in 1905. After the fight, they refused to speak to one another. Strangely, they played alongside each other for seven more years, turned numerous double plays, and won two World Series—all without a single word.

“Joe Tinker always downplayed his problem with Evers, believing that the press made too much of the story, saying: ‘They make a great deal of such differences among ball players, but this is pure exaggeration. You cannot expect to be on intimate terms with everybody in your club and there is no reason why you should be, so long as you are playing the game.’

“It took 33 years, but we can all be thankful it had a happy ending!”