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Frank Chance
#?? | First baseman | Chicago Cubs


Frank Leroy Chance: "The Peerless Leader"; "Husk"

     Chance was the first baseman in the double-play trio of "Tinker to Evers to Chance," immortalized by Franklin Adams in the poem "Baseball's Sad Lexicon."  He was also the player-manager of the Chicago Cub infield on the terrific 1906 squad, one of the greatest teams ever.  Under Chance's often brilliant guidance, what the trio did was to bring fielding into focus.  They devised new defensive strategies to defeat the bunt, the hit-and-run, and the stolen base (the key run-producing techniques of the dead-ball era) and implemented the first known version of the rotation play.

 

          1910, just two years after Adams fashioned his poem, was the final season that the trio played together.  Evers was hurt for most of 1911, and player-manager Chance had retired as a player to devote his full energies to managing.

 

     Chance was just 27 when he took over managerial duties with the Cubs.  His team won 116 games, a record that remained unmatched in major league history until the 2001 Seattle Mariners.  In seven full seasons, he won at least 100 games four times, and never finished lower than third.  His .664 winning percentage (768-389) stands as the best in Cubs history.

 

     He led the NL with 67 stolen bases in 1903, and with 57 in 1906, when his 103 runs scored were also the league high.  In only six seasons (1903-08) did he play in more than 100 games, but he batted better than .300 in the first four of them.  He was among the National League's finest hitters and fielders of the early 1900s, and he built the Cubs into a dynasty, winning four pennants in five years (1906-1910) to gain the nickname, "the Peerless Leader."

 

     Some called him "Husk" because he was husky, strong, and aggressive.  He made his opinions known and never backed down from an argument, and he ran his clubs with a clenched fist, coming down hard on any player who gave less than 100%.  He was often beaned, and his hearing was eventually affected; as a result, he developed a peculiar whine which grated on his teammates and opponents.

 

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."

 

Franklin P. Adams, New York Globe writer (and Giants fan) on July 10, 1908

 

The term "gonfalon" refers to a flag or pennant, and the phrase "gonfalon bubble" describes the repeated success 

of the Chicago Cubs and their celebrated infield against their National League rivals, his beloved New York Giants.

 

 

 

 


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