Johnny Evers and Joe Tinker End 33-Year Feud!

Johnny Evers and Joe Tinker End 33-Year Feud!

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 Johnny Evers and Joe Tinker End 33-Year Feud!

As we await the opening of Spring training, here’s something that will warm your heart, and may even bring a tear to your eye, especially those of us who love “Old-Timers’” photos.

One hundred three years ago yesterday, Johnny Evers was traded to the Braves by the Cubs for second baseman Bill Sweeney. It was a trade that worked out well for the Braves as Evers won the Chalmers award (precursor to the MVP award) and led them to a pennant and World Series championship. That got me thinking about the famous feud between Evers and teammate, Joe Tinker. 

We’re all familiar with the classic poem “Baseball’s Sad Lexicon” by Franklin Pierce Adams that immortalized the Cubs double play combination of “Tinkers to Evers to Chance.” But not everyone is aware that a feud started between Tinker and Evers in 1905 and the two didn’t speak to each other for 33 years! On September 14, 1905, Tinker and Evers engaged in a fistfight on the field because, the story goes, “Evers had taken a cab to the stadium and left his teammates behind in the hotel lobby.”

Thankfully, the feud eventually had a happy ending. In the great photo below, we see Joe Tinker and Johnny Evers reunited in 1937 at an Old-Timers game played at Wrigley Field. On that day, they dedicated a plaque to the memory of their deceased manager, Frank Chance, who had died in 1924. Here’s the heart-warming caption I found with the photo:

“When Joe Tinker and Johnny Evers were reunited in Chicago in 1937, the two hadn’t seen each other in 14 years. Their bitter feud had mellowed and when the met in a Chicago hotel, and after a moment’s hesitation, they threw their arms around each other and cried.” (From Mark Stang’s “Cubs Collection”)

What a beautiful scene that must have been!

Here’s a little background information about the famous Cub double-play combination and the “feud”:

Tinker, Evers, and Chance first appeared in a game together on September 13, 1902 and turned their first double play two days later. Led by the famous trio, the Cubs won National League pennants in 1906, 1907, 1908, and 1910. Tinker and Evers worked so well together that some called them the “Siamese twins of baseball” because “they play the bag as if they were one man, not two.” The three played their final game together on April 12, 1912. All were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946. Their inductions have been credited to the fame generated by Adams’ poem.

Despite their celebrated success at turning spectacular plays, relations between the teammates were said to have been often strained and they actually had a fist fight on the field in 1905. After the fight they refused to speak to one another. Strangely, they played alongside each other for seven more years, turned numerous double plays, and won two World Series—all without a single word. 

Joe Tinker always downplayed his problem with Evers, believing that the press made too much of the story. “They make a great deal of such differences among ball players, but this is pure exaggeration. You cannot expect to be on intimate terms with everybody on your club and there is no reason why you should be, so long as you are playing the game.”

It took 33 years, but we can all be thankful it had a happy ending!

Gary Livacari
Photo Credits: “The Cubs Collection,” by Mark Stang; and public domain

Information: Excerpts edited from the “Baseball’s Sad Lexicon” Wikipedia page. Quote taken from the source named above.

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I'm a baseball historian who also loves to write. My forte is identifying ballplayers in old photos, and my specail interest is the Dead Ball Era.

1 Comment

  1. Andy Castellanos · February 14, 2017 Reply

    Gary: “Great Post”- The media played a big part of this feud, making it bigger that it was, unbelievable infield combination maybe the best in the history of baseball.
    “Giant Killers”

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