We are thrilled to present this exclusive conversation with our first repeat guest on Cover the Bases!  It is a privilege and an honor that Tim Wiles, Director of Research at the National Baseball Hall of Fame, provides what we’ll call an extra base hit.  Tim has joined us in the past to discuss his beautiful treatment of Baseball’s Greatest Hit: The Story of Take Me Out to the Ball Game.

In this episode we are honoring the fact that the month of April is designated as National Poetry Month.  Tim is co-editor of a fine collection of baseball poems called Line Drives: 100 Contemporary Baseball Poems along with Brooke Horvath.

The book is also graced with a forward by Elinor Nauen who perfectly sets the emotion of what can be found inside the covers. We begin our discussion quoting Elinor’s fondness for the short poem.

However, our exclusive topic on this episode is Baseball’s Sad Lexicon, the second most famous baseball poem this side of Casey At the Bat. Many will know it as, Tinker to Evers to Chance and it is celebrating it’s 100th anniversary, written in June or July in 191o.

The poem was written by Franklin Piece Adams (F.P.A.), who at the time was a columnist for the New York Evening Mail. He went on to pen a long running column called The Conning Tower and was a regular panelist on radio shows in the day.

As the story goes, F.P.A. was attempting to get out of the newsroom to catch a ballgame at the Polo Grounds one summer day, when his editor requested an additional 8 lines to fill space in the paper.  His editor understood the lasting legacy of those 8 lines as soon as they were published.

Baseball’s Sad Lexicon revolves around the great rivalry of the day, which was the New York Giants and the Chicago Cubs. It is the Cubs’ splendid infield of Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and Frank Chance which is immortalized as a forlorn Giants fan rues the double play that spoils his team’s chances.

[click to continue…]