Three position changes, three Hall of Famers and three names as recognizable to Cubs fans today as they were more than 100 years ago.
On September 15, 1902 they took the field together for the first time. Tinker a 21-year-old rookie shortstop, Evers a 20-year-old rookie second baseman, and Chance a 25-year-old first baseman.
The threesome turned its first double play the following game and quickly developed into one of the best infield dynamos in professional baseball for the time.
The three remained teammates through 1912, but are best remembered for a seven-year run from 1903-1909. During this time they led the Cubs to four pennants and two World Series championships.
Individually, Tinker evolved as a third baseman in the Pacific Northwest League, but later found his calling at shortstop during his rookie season. He spent 11 full seasons with Chicago before departing for Cincinnati in 1913 as a player/manager.
Evers’ career literally caught a break when then-starting second baseman Bobby Lowe broke his ankle in September of 1902. Although a natural shortstop, Evers jumped at the chance to man second base. Turns out he never looked back.
Evers run with Chicago ended after 1913, and with plenty of good baseball left in his tank. It showed the following season when he won the NL’s MVP Award with the Boston Braves.
Perhaps the most interesting of the three is Chance. Originally a backup catcher, Chance changed positions at the request of manager Frank Selee, who recognized Chance’s potential as a first sacker.
Although Chance obliged, albeit begrudgingly, he did so unaware that he would later become the best all-around first baseman of his era.
As fate would have it, Chance later replaced Selee–who resigned due to illness– as active manager in 1905. For the next seven seasons Chance skippered the Cubs, including the record 116-win season of 1906. He then finished his baseball career managing both the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.
One hundred years later and the Cubs have yet to match the immortal combination of Tinker, Evers, and Chance!
Castro-to-Theriot-to-Lee? Not quite!