Sunday, February 26, 2012
Many baseball fans know the names of Frank Chance, Johnny Evers and Joe Tinker, the Chicago Cubs infielders named in Franklin Pierce Adams' 1910 poem known as "Baseball's Sad Lexicon." The trio played together as Cubs for over 10 seasons, but 1912 marked the end of Chance's playing days in Chicago. He did, however, continue to manage the team for the rest of the season, leading Chicago to a 91-59 record and a third place finish.
With Evers at second base and Tinker at shortstop, the 1912 Cubs featured one of the best middle infields in franchise history. Evers hit .341 that year while Tinker drove in a career-high 75 runs. According to "Cubs Journal" by John Snyder, though, the two did not always get along and even tried to fight each other in the dugout at one point. (This sounds very similar to a few more recent Cubs players.) Evers also served two suspensions for fighting with umpires during the season.
Rounding out the infield that year was catcher Jimmy Archer, first baseman Vic Saier and third baseman Heinie Zimmerman. On June 10, 1912, Zimmerman hit a game-winning home run in the tenth inning on an attempted intentional walk. Many of Zimmerman's 1912 statistics led the league, including his .372 batting average, his 14 home runs and his 207 hits. He also led the team with 99 RBIs.
The Cubs' outfield in 1912 consisted of regulars Jimmy Sheckard in left field, Tommy Leach in center field and Frank "Wildfire" Schulte in right field. Schulte finished the 1911 season as the first player in major league history to hit 20 home runs, 20 doubles and 20 triples in the same year. He continued to play well in 1912 and placed second on the team in home runs (12) and doubles (27).
Four Cubs pitchers earned double-digit win totals in 1912, including Larry Cheney, the league's leader with 26 wins. Lew Ritchie added 16 wins, as did rookie Jimmy Lavender, whose main pitch was a spitball. Ed Reulbach contributed 10 wins and had four of the team's nine saves.
Despite winning 91 games, the Cubs finished 13 games back in the 1912 National League standings. Chance was fired as the team's manager at the end of the season, with Evers named as his replacement. Tinker was soon traded, marking the official end of the Tinker-Evers-Chance era in Chicago.