Thursday, November 03, 2016


Before this week, the Chicago Cubs professional baseball team last won a World Series in 1908 -- 108 years ago.  Yesterday the long drought ended when the Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in ten innings of the 7th game of the series.  Though sick in bed, I had to watch it.  This was an American historical drama, finally playing out over a century and multiple generations of Americans.

And like any good tale, it involves heroes and legends, handed down from one generation to another.  One of the best involves the Cubs infield of 1908, a deadly trio dealing in double plays.  They were shortstop Joe Tinker, second baseman Johnny Evers, and first baseman Frank Chance.  Their story is immortalized in a 1910 poem written by a frustrated New York reporter, Franklin Pierce Adams, when the Cubs infield completed a double play to defeat the New York Giants.  The poem is titled "Baseball's Sad Lexicon."

Tinker, Evers and Chance,
Cubs Double Play Combo 1902 - 1912
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."

Tinker, Evers and Chance are still legendary heroes of Cubs fans. Some of the 2016 fans left trinkets and pennants at Ever's grave, in hopes, perhaps, of conjuring blessings and support from beyond the grave for the Cubs 2016 chances

Items Left at Grave of Johnny Evers, Chicago Cubs
1908 2nd Baseman
Baseball!  This game has been the one cultural item that is present in American history for more than a hundred years -- the World Series began in 1903.

A lot has happened since the Cubs won their last World Series championship:  the sinking of the Titanic, World War I and II, television, the moon landings, Mars landings (of robots), heart transplants, personal computers and mobile phones, to name a very few.  So I wondered:  how did people work and live and get around town in 1908?  Well I couldn't find much detail, but I did find some information.  According to the site The Daily Press, here are some facts about 1908:
  • The average life expectancy was 47 years.
  • The average wage in 1908 was 22 cents an hour. The average worker made $200 to $400 a year.
  • There were only 8,000 cars and only 144 miles of paved roads.
  • Only 8 percent of the homes had telephones.
  • Only 14 percent of the homes had bathtubs.
  • Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.
  • Two out of every 10 adults couldn't read or write.
  • More than 95 percent of all births took place at home.
But they had professional baseball!

Additional information on the famous infield trio can be seen on Find-A-Grave.  Do look them up! They are linked below.

1908 Cubs, left to right:  Tinker, Evers and Chance

Joe Tinker

Johnny Evers

Frank Chance

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