Sunday, April 25, 2010

Tinker to Evers to Chance and More!

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."
Baseball's Sad Lexicon, by Franklin Pierce Adams (F.P.A.), was published in the New York Evening Mail in the summer of 1910 and is one of the most famous baseball poems. The poem tells of the Chicago Cubs' infielders Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and Frank Chance and their proclivity for turning double plays against the New York Giants during the race for the pennant. Until recently the poem stood alone as a tribute to the "trio of bear cubs" but through some painstaking research Tim Wiles, the Director of Research at the National Baseball Hall of Fame, discovered this one poem was part of a larger story.

In this Cover the Bases podcast, Wiles tells Joe Magennis about researching the poem in order to write an article celebrating its 100 year anniversary. Listening to the podcast you can hear the excitement in Wiles' voice as he explains the lengths he had to go to try to find the first time the poem was published and what he discovered as a result. Wiles discovered that the Chicago Tribune writers responded to the poem with their own poem! In fact, so far his research has turned up 29 poems between the two newspapers and many of them make reference to specific plays in a game. Wiles' research is continuing as he attempts to uncover all of the poems and match them up with plays. What an amazing discovery! I highly recommend listening to the podcast for more information on the original poem, F.P.A. (he was a Cub's fan!) and the research. You'll also hear some of the poems that were found!

I can't wait to read all of the poems and get a true sense of the emotions that the Cubs' and Giants' fans were feeling along the way as they were battling for the pennant. I love that their emotions are captured in verse! While we may not write poems, 100 years after the line "Tinker to Evers to Chance" was penned baseball fans still bond by talking about their team and enjoy some good "smack talk" with the opposing team. In my world this happens mostly on Twitter or Facebook but it's still capturing the same emotions (although not nearly as eloquently!). Today I can watch a game on my iphone, share the experience with others through Twitter, listen to podcasts, play fantasy baseball online, blog and share this through Facebook, and receive texts and pictures from my friend who is at a game all thanks to technology. What a different world this is from the days of F.P.A., Tinker, Evers and Chance. Despite the ever changing and fast moving world, however, hearts are still captured by baseball just as they were 100 years ago.

1 comment:

  1. Myka .. I am so glad to have discovered your great blog, and your great passion for baseball. We both seem to have a similar love of the literature and creativity that the game inspires.

    When Tim first told me of his amazing discovery, I immediately said that it would make a great book. He chuckled and said that his commitments would not allow him to pursue that idea .. so maybe by writing and talking about these poems, we can somehow help to inspire a complete presentation of Baseball's Sad Lexicon.

    Your take on the use of Twitter and other social networks, in comparison to the elegant compositions from 100 years ago is quite accurate. I believe that today even more baseball fans have a chance to be heard. Newspapers could only allot a certain amount of space, where we now have unlimited capacity. Today, the challenge is one of curation and discovery and is one of the long range missions of Baseballisms.

    I am constantly driven by the belief that I can speak to future generations of my family, and hope that some day they will listen to my voice and understand the legacy of the game.

    Thanks for all of your support, it is an amazing time that we live in!


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