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SAD, SAD LEXICON
That fabled infield of the old Cubs consisted of four ballplayers?Harry Steinfeldt, the third baseman; small Johnny Evers, playing second base; at shortstop, Joe Tinker; and big Frank Chance, as the first baseman.
That Cub quartette lived glorious baseball years even though, individually, each player was beset by eccentricities. Harry Steinfeldt, the third baseman, was morose and always kept to himself. Big, husky Frank Chance, the greatest first baseman of his time, always seemed to fear impending doom. While Joe Tinker and Johnny Evers, although for years they played baseball side by side, never spoke a word to each other when off the field.
But while fame had blessed those four players of the Cub infield, tough luck and tragedy dogged them. Harry Steinfeldt was the first to be hit by the curious jinx. In 1914, Harry suddenly became paralyzed. When he finally died after a year of torture, he was only 37.
The next victim of the jinx was Frank Chance. Towards the end of his playing career he was beaned. He was never the same man again. For years after, he suffered great pain and anguish from headaches?and then he became a victim of the dread disease of tuberculosis and died.
Johnny Evers, the brilliant second baseman, could not escape the jinx. When the peppery little infielder left baseball he had a fortune of close to a quarter of a million dollars, but he soon lost it all. Then he suffered a stroke which paralyzed his right arm and leg and cost him partial loss of his voice. For years Evers remained a helpless invalid, sentenced to a wheelchair, until death finally released him.
And Joe Tinker, the double-play shortstop, also fell victim to the doom. When he left baseball he seemed headed for fortune and happiness, he ran his baseball earnings into a fortune of half a million dollars. But suddenly his savings were swept away. Added to his financial troubles, Joe suffered domestic tragedies. His first wife died and so did his second. He had many serious illnesses, and he lost a leg. Years of misery finally came to an end for one-legged Joe Tinker, who on his 65th birthday decided it was time to join his teammates in Valhalla.
What was this strange fate that pursued all the four players who made baseball history? Out of four men, all died after years of torture, pain and misery. Sad lexicon, indeed.