The 1910 Cubs were a colorful team. Their slugger, “Wildfire” Schulte, led the team in home runs with 10. Mordecai “Three Fingers” Brown was the veteran staff ace 25-14 with an imperceptible E.R.A. of 1.86. Pitcher Orval Overall was in the twilight of his career. But c’mon Orval Overall? What a great baseball name.
The double play combination of Tinker to Evers to Chance had been together for 8 years and in July of 1910, their rally-killing fielding inspired a frustrated New York sportswriter named Franklin Pierce Adams to pen “That Double Play Again,” which was re-published a week or two later as
Baseball’s Sad Lexicon
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.”
In 1910, The Cubs were still a Southside team. They played at West Side Grounds from 1893 to 1915 at the corner of Polk and South Wolcott. In a 154 game schedule, they won a staggering 104 games.
Their World Series opponents were the Philadelphia Athletics managed by Connie Mack and led by Home Run Baker, whose famous nickname belied the 2 home runs he hit during that season.
Not to draw conclusions or conjure up parallels, but that formidable 1910 Cubs squad lost the World Series in 5 games. But over a century later, there are some fascinating sidebars.
The World Series of 1910 introduced the first baseball with a cork center effectively ending the ‘dead ball era’ of baseball. Wildfire Schulte would hit twice as many homers the following season.
Athletics manager, Cornelius McGillicuddy, or Connie Mack joined the major leagues in 1886. He was still managing in the major leagues when Vin Scully first became a baseball broadcaster.
And my favorite bit of 1910 trivia? The Cubs starting pitcher King Cole had a career year in 1910. 20-4 and he had the league’s lowest E.R.A. 1.80. But King Cole was the inspiration was apparently the inspiration for my single favorite short story, Alibi Ike.
“HIS right name was Frank X. Farrell, and I guess the X stood for “Excuse me.” Because he never pulled a play, good or bad, on or off the field, without apologizin’ for it.”
Alibi Ike was written by legendary sportswriter and humorist Ring Lardner, who wrote the Wake of the News column for the Chicago Tribune, a column later anchored by former XRT Athletes’ Feats host Bob Verdi, a dryly humorous man in his own ‘write.’
Alibi Ike could not make a dramatic catch or game-winning hit without finding an excuse for why he couldn’t have done it better.
“What did you hit last year?” Carey ast him.
“I had malaria most o’ the season,” says Ike. “I wound up with .356.”
“Where would I have to go to get malaria?” says Carey, but Ike didn’t wise up.
The 2016 Cubs begin their ascent next Friday. They are a rare and talented baseball team. It was one afternoon watching Baez fill in at second base that I was moved to dash off this doggerel.
WITH APOLOGIES TO FRANKLIN PIERCE ADAMS AND BEN ZOBRIST.
These are the saddest of all possible words: Russell to Baez to Rizz.
Trio of youngsters and knowing their biz, Russell to Baez to Rizz
Gracefully diving, our juggling tandem
Plucking a liner driven at random
Words that are heavy cuz they play with abandon
Russell to Baez to Rizz
Phew. Thanks for reading. You have to understand that these days when I start talking about the Cubs and Cubs history, people just start inching away.