Saturday, July 10, 2010

Baseball's Sad Lexicon Centennial

On this day 100 years ago Franklin Pierce Adams' poem Baseball's Sad Lexicon was first published in the New York Evening Mail. It's better known as "Tinker to Evers to 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."

Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers, and Frank Chance were the shortstop, second baseman, and first baseman/manager respectively of the Cubs back in their "glory days" of the early 20th Century when they dominated the league, won 4 pennants in 5 years and 2 consecutive World Series.

Statistically speaking, they didn't turn an extraordinary amount of double-plays, and none of them had Hall of Fame numbers. Frank Chance as a manager might have. Nonetheless, they were certainly famous, and the Hall of Fame inducted all three of them 1946.

Why write a poem about them? Adams was a columnist and sports writer for the Giants who had spent 5 years falling just short of the Cubs in the standings (most famously in 1908). They were their nemesis, if you will. Maybe the poem brought some luck, as the Giants would win 3 consecutive pennants from 1911-1913.

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In 1789, the governor of Australia granted land and some animals to James Ruse in an experiment to see how long it would take him to support himself. Within 15 months he had become self sufficient. The area is still known as Experiment Farm. This is my Experiment Farm to see how long it will take me to support myself by writing.