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1930s & Earlier / Tinker to Evers to Chance
Back in the day when sports writing was at its gaudy peak, scribes often used poetry in their description of people and events. The most famous sports poem is likely this one penned by Franklin P. Adams: 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.' This work was first published as 'That Double Play Again' in the July 12, 1910, New York Evening Mail. The Chicago Daily Tribune reprinted it as 'Gotham's Woe' on July 15, 1910. Three days later, on July 18, the New York Evening Mail republished it under the title by which it is best known today, 'Baseball's Sad Lexicon.' It described the double-play artistry of Chicago Cubs when the team was in its heyday in the first decade of the 20th century. (Yes, the Cubs actually had a heyday.) Second baseman Joe Tinker, shortstop Johnny Evers, and first baseman Frank Chance first played together in 1902. Although the poetic lament was accurate, the Cubs' famed trio never came close to leading the National League in double plays at any time. Nevertheless all three were inducted into the Hall of fame in 1946 largely because of Franklin Adams' doggerel. Based on sheer statistics, probably only Frank Chance deserves to be there. Although all three ballplayers are long dead, their double play prowess has been referenced in numerous literary works, movies, and TV shows as varied as Hogan's Heroes and The Brady Bunch.