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Legends On Deck

Tinkers to Evers to Chance Take on Duffy, Harry and The Babe: 1907 Cubs vs. 1916 Red Sox

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Two of the more maligned franchises in major league history are the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox. They are also two of the more successful franchise in the “Dead Ball Era” running from 1903 until 1919. Chicago had gone to three consecutive World Series (1906-1908) winning in 07 and 08. While they did not win a World Series for over 100 years they had chances appearing in the 1910, 1918, 1929, 1932, 1935, 1938 and 1945 World Series before going through a playoff drought until 1984 and a World Series drought until 2016. Boston between 1903 and 1918 went to the World Series a total of 5 times (1903,1912,1915,1916 and 1918). They then fell into some of the worst luck of all time before finally breaking their “curse” in 2004 and going on to titles in 2007 and 2013. The Cubs are one of the oldest franchises in baseball and their history can be traced back to 1876 when they began as the Chicago White Sox. Boston was one of the original 8 teams in the American League that began in 1901. Both teams also have two of the oldest ballparks in the majors with Fenway Park having opened in 1912 and Wrigley Field, which first opened as Weeghman Park in 1914 (was renamed Wrigley Field in 1927 after being known as Cubs Park from 1920 to 1926), is only a scant two years younger than its big sister in Boston, Fenway Park.

The manager of the Cubs was also their first baseman, Frank Chance. The lineup that Chance would have would include the following players. Johnny Kling at the catcher’s position, Frank Chance at first base, Johnny Evers at second, Joe Tinker at third base with Jimmy Sheckard, Jimmy Slagle and Frank Schulte in the outfield. The pitching staff was Orval Overall, Mordecai “Three Fingers” Brown, Carl Lundgren, Jack Pfister and Ed Reulbach.

Bill Carrigan was the Red Sox manager in 1916 and could choose the following lineup to face Chicago. The catcher was Pinch Thomas, Dick Hoblitzell was at first base, Jack Barry at second, Everett Scott, the shortstop and  Larry Gardner at third base. In the outfield for Boston was Tillie Walker, Duffy Lewis and Harry Hooper. The pitching staff consisted of Babe Ruth, Dutch Leonard, Carl Mays, Ernie Shore and Rube Foster. So now it is time to see who comes away with the victory and moves on to the next round.

Mangers, Frank Chance versus Bill Carrigan, the player manager seems to always be a little bit more in the game because he is still playing. Advantage to Frank Chance over Bill Carrigan. This is not to say that Carrigan is not a good manager, he is, but Chance being a part of the infield must really be in on the action especially in the Dead Ball era. Both managers have won pennants and or World Series titles before. Chance won the National League pennant in 1906 and would win both titles, the pennant and World Series title in 1908. Carrigan won the pennant and World Series title in 1915 as well. Although the playing manager seems to have the advantage this one is close and hard to pick a winner. But by a slight margin I will go with Carrigan based on past history. But Chance is right up there.

Catching is next and for Chicago it is the veteran Johnny Kling, who in 1907 had 15 doubles, eight triples and one home run in 334 at bats for a .284 batting average. When he was behind the plate Kling only made eight errors in509 chances for .987 fielding percentage. The catcher for the Boston Red Sox was Pinch Thomas who in 99 games had 57 hits in 216 at bats. Included in those hits were 10 doubles, one triple and one home run as well as a .264 batting average. Thomas made eight errors as well but in less chances (415) for a .981 fielding percentage. That said, veteran leadership is important as well and Kling proved invaluable for Chicago in that respect so advantage to Kling and he Cubs.

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First base for Chicago was Frank Chance and Chance in 11 games had 112 hits including 19 doubles, two triples and one home run. His batting average was .284 and he also had 49 RBIs. With the glove Chance made only 10 errors in 1,219 chances for a pretty good .992 fielding percentage. The Boston Red Sox first baseman in 1916 was Dick Hoblitzell who had 108 hits in 130 games, including 17 doubles, one triple and no home runs. His batting average was .259 and he had 39 run batted in. Hoblitzell was almost as good a fielder as Chance making just 15 errors in 1,307 chances for a .989 fielding percentage. Again as with catcher all of the numbers are close ad by another small margin the advantage goes to the Cubs and Frank Chance.

At second base for Chicago was the scrappy man from Troy New York Johnny Evers. Evers played in 151 games in 1907 and had 127 hits including 18 doubles, four triples and two home runs. His batting average was .250 an he also scored 66 runs and had 46 stolen bases. Despite being immortalized in “Baseball’s Sad Lexicon” Tinkers to Evers to Chance” Evers made 32 errors in 878 chances for a .964 fielding percentage. Boston’s second baseman was Jack Barry, himself a member of a famous infield combination himself, Connie Mack’s $100,000 infield which consisted of Frank Baker at third, Jack Barry at shortstop, Eddie Collins at second base and Stuffy McInnis at first base. The four so named because it was said that Philly manager Connie Mack would not take $100,000 for the four stars. Anyways Barry as Boston’s second baseman had 67 hits in 94 games including six doubles, one triple and a .203 batting average. With the glove the veteran Barry made 13 errors in 495 chances for a .974 fielding percentage. Based on these numbers for the seasons described advantage to Evers and the Cubs.

Joe Tinker, the third member of Tinkers to Evers to Chance was the Cubs shortstop in 1907 and during the season he had 89 hits in 117 games including 11 doubles, three triples and one home run to go with his .221 batting average. As a fielder in 1907, Tinker made 39 errors in 644 chances for a .939 fielding percentage. Everett Scott who later in his career would set a consecutive game streak played mark of 1,307 (later broken by Lou Gehrig and Cal Ripken Jr) was the Red Sox shortstop and in 123 games Scott would have 85 hits including 19 doubles, two triples and a .232 batting average. In the field Scott would make 19 errors in 578 chances for a .967 fielding percentage. Looking at these numbers and based on defense alone advantage to Scott and the Red Sox.

The”hot corner” third base was manned by Harry Steinfeldt. In the 152 games he played in Steinfeldt had 144 hits including 25 doubles, five triples and one home run as well as a .266 batting average and 70 RBIs. When Steinfeldt was in the field he made 16 errors in 484 chances for a fielding percentage of .967. Third base for the Boston nine was Larry Gardner and in the 148 games he played he had 152 hits including 19 doubles, seven triples and two home runs. He had a .308 batting average and drove in 62 runs. 21 errors in 448 chances for Gardner and a .953 fielding percentage. Another contest where the advantage s not big but here Gardner and the Red Sox get the nod given Gardner’s better offensive numbers.

The outfields will be discussed as a unit and the 1907 outfield for Chicago consisted of Jimmy Sheckard (143 games-129 hits-23 doubles, one triple, one home run and a .267 batting average.) In the field (six errors,241 chances, .975 fielding percentage). Next was Jimmy Slagle (136 games-126 hits-six doubles, si triples and a .258 batting average) In the field Slagle (10 errors, 264 chances, .962 fielding percentage). The final member of the Cubs outfield was Frank Schulte (97 games-98 hits-14 doubles, seven triples and two home runs-.287 batting average). For Schulte in the field ( four errors-132 chances-.973 fielding percentage). Now the Red Sox trio of outfielders: first Tillie Walker (128 games-124 hits-29 doubles, 11 triples, three home runs and a .266 batting average). With the glove Walker (13 errors, 315 chances, .959 fielding percentage). Next was Duffy Lewis (152 games-151 hits-29 doubles, five triples, one home run, .268 batting average). In the field Lewis ( 10 errors, 332 chances, .970 fielding percentage). The final member of the Red Sox outfield Harry Hooper ( 151 games-156 hits-20 doubles, 11 triples, one home run and a .271 batting average). As for fielding Hooper ( 10 errors, 295 chances and a .966 fielding percentage). Clearly here the advantage goes to the Red Sox with out a doubt, case closed. It also must be remembered that before 1916 the Red Sox had probably the finest defensive outfield in baseball with Hooper, Lewis and Tris Speaker who now was with the Cleveland Indians.

Now for the pitcher in a one game playoff, Chance had five legitimate choices in Orval Overall (23-7), Mordecai Brown (20-6), Carl Lundgren (18-7), Jack Pfiester (14-9) and Ed Reulbach (17-4), tough choices indeed and Carrigan could choose between five aces as well, Babe Ruth (23-12), Dutch Leonard (18-12), Carl Mays (18-12), Ernie Shore (16-10) and Rube Foster (14-7). Chance almost would have to go with Mordecai Brown or Overall and either of those two would be facing probably the best left hander in baseball at the time, George Herman “Babe” Ruth. The thing is that there would be a potent bullpen for either manager to go to had the starting pitcher failed. It is awfully hard to beat the best and advantage he goes to the Ruth pitching, Red Sox. Boston is going to be awfully hard to beat as Chicago will find out, but Ruth was one heck of a pitcher and nothing seemed to bother him. Ruth and the Red Sox move on to the next round.

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Kevin Larkin

Kevin Larkin has been going to minor league and major league baseball games since 1967. He has been to numerous major league and minor league parks and describes himself as a "baseball fan" who likes the Yankees. He enjoys researching, writing and reading about about baseball and will talk for hours on end about his favorite sport.
He is in love with the history of the game, having written three books about his beloved sport. They are "Baseball in the Bay State" a history of baseball in the state of Massachusetts. Then he wrote Gehrig:Game by Game, a history of all of the major league ballgames including All Star games and World Series games as well as regular season that the "Iron Horse" Lou Gehrig played in. The third book "Baseball in the Berkshires" a history of baseball in Berkshire County co written with three others, Tom Daley, Jim Overmyer and Larry Moore. As a result of this book Larkin and the other three gentlemen have put together a museum exhibit that is now permanently housed at the Berkshire Mall in Lanesboro Massachusetts.
Larkin also does fact checking and writing for the Society for American Baseball Research or SABR and has had numerous articles published there as well.
He lives in Great Barrington Massachusetts, in the heart of Red Sox country and is involved in a number of projects. He also is a security guard at Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington after having been a police officer for 24 years in his home town