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Joe Tinker Day, 1914

One hundred years ago, an Oak Parker was in the spotlight when Chicago’s new baseball stadium opened.

On Thursday, April 23, 1914 21 “pilots” lined up their Overland, Kissel, Mitchell, Franklin and sundry other automobiles along Wisconsin (later Marion) Street at South Boulevard for a motorcade that transported some 100 Oak Park and River Forest baseball fans to the opening day at the newly-constructed Weeghman Park, home of the Chicago Federals.

When the Federal League folded after just two years, the Chicago Cubs moved in from their West side park and soon re-named it Wrigley Field. The 1907 and 1908 world champions have yet to raise a World Series champion banner ever since.

The locals went to cheer on one of their own, former Cub and now Chicago Feds star short stop Joe Tinker, who lived with his wife and two sons at 832 Gunderson. In fact, opening day 1914 was proclaimed “Joe Tinker Day” by his adoring fans and the Oak Leaves.

Although then nearing the end of his 15 year major league career Tinker had already been immortalized in Franklin P. Adams’ 1910 poem “Base Ball’s Sad Lexicon“, which first appeared in the New York Evening Mail and contained the New Yorkers’ lament: “These are the saddest of possible words--Tinker to Evers to Chance.” Sad at least to New Yorkers whose championship hopes fell victim to this Cubs double play combination.

Despite what purists will point out were less than stellar statistics, the myth surrounding this trio of Tinker at short, Johnny Evers at second and Frank Chance at first was sufficient to propel them to be elected as a unit into the baseball Hall of Fame in 1946.

Two years later, Joe Tinker died in relative poverty in Orlando, Florida, far from the cheering crowds at Wrigley who still flock to the ball park every spring in hopes of recapturing that elusive magic of 1908.

Baseball players pass away, but myths endure.

Submitted by Bob Messer, 4/19/2014

Sources: Oak Leaves, April 18, 1914, cover photo, and April 25, 1914, p. 6. Peggy Tuck Sinko, Village Yesterdays, Spring 2005. pp.4,6. Harold Seymour, Baseball: The Golden Years, 1971, p. 148. Jim Enright, Baseball’s Great Team: The Chicago Cubs, 1975, pp. 121-124.