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Chance occurrence

By Ed Park

Pulp fiction fans—check it out!
Levi Stahl’s recent PF piece, “Baseball and verse,” dug up some new and old poems inspired by our national sport. He paid specific attention to this mournful lament for the 1910 New York Giants:
These are the saddest of possible words:
“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”
Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds,
Tinker and Evers and Chance.
Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble,
Making a Giant hit into a double—
Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble:
“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”
How popular was that refrain?


The leadoff story in the doorstopping new Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps (Vintage Crime, ed. by Otto Penzler) is Paul Cain’s economical “One, Two, Three.” The title is shorthand for the way a trio of interested parties gets duped. (I’ll refrain from giving out any plot details.)
“One, two, three,” the narrator muses. “Tinkers to Evers to Chance—only more so.”
The story came out in Black Mask in 1933, over two decades after Adams’s poem appeared.http://poetryfoundation.org/archive/feature.html?id=180149

Comments (2)

  • On January 9, 2008 at 3:55 pm Matt wrote:

    A bittersweet reminder that the last time the Cubs won the World Series was the era when people used words like “gonfalon”.
    1908-2008. A century. That’s one hundred years. Sigh…

  • On January 10, 2008 at 7:05 am Levi Stahl wrote:

    That’s funny, because I was reading E.B. White’s “Here is New York” (1948) yesterday, and he lists Franklin P. Adams–along with much better-remembered names as Heywood Broun, Christopher Morley, Robert Benchly, Ring Lardner, Dorothy Parker–as one of his literary heroes when he came to New York. He was amazed every day, he said, that they were living here in the same city as him. He wrote, “I used to walk quickly past the house in West Thirteenth Street between Sixth and Seventh where F.P.A. lived, and the block seemed to tremble under my feet–the way Park Avenue trembles when a train leaves Grand Central.”
    I had somehow completely missed that Adams was a member of the Algonquin Group (an Algonquinian?), though I did know he wrote a column called “The Conning Tower” for several New York newspapers. But now I feel bad for really only having known him as the author of “Baseball’s Sad Lexicon”!


Posted in Uncategorized on Wednesday, January 9th, 2008 by Ed Park.