Books for the News, Chicago

Remembering the last time the Cubs were this good

Tinker to Evers to Chance jacket image

Monday Tuesday is the 2018 season home opener for the Cubs, and still riding high on 2016’s Series win, fans are expecting another post-season winning team with a better-than-good chance of making it all the way. Today’s Cubs team has a deep roster of better than average players, and a coach that has been masterful at coordinating their varied talents, but of course this hasn’t really been the case for quite a while.

There was a time though, a long, long time ago, when the Cubs of old looked a lot more like the team does now. Rather than a team chocked full of All-Star prospects though, a small cadre of elite players, Joe Tinker, shortstop; Johnny Evers, second baseman; and Frank Chance, first; came together in rough-and-tumble early twentieth-century Chicago to form the defensive core of the most formidable team in big league baseball. A team that would lead the Chicago Cubs to four National League pennants and two World Series championships from 1906 to 1910.

In Tinker to Evers to Chance: The Chicago Cubs and the Dawn of Modern America David Rapp brings this storied episode in Chicago Cubs history back to life, situating these early glory-days of Cubs baseball within the broader context of the history of the game itself to demonstrate how these early baseball stars helped to turn it into the national pastime it is today. And with winter fading and baseball season getting into full-swing, Rapp’s book has been receiving a quite bit of attention.

In a review of the 2018 season’s freshest books on baseball for the Library Journal Brian Sullivan takes note of how “Rapp connects these baseball stories to larger cultural themes such as social and economic class, the New York–Chicago rivalry, and the emerging media technologies during this period. VERDICT Highly recommended for baseball fans and those interested in early 20th-century American history.”

And from another roundup of recent baseball books in the Northwest Indiana Times: “Rapp . . . show[s] the role baseball, a relatively new sport back then, played in changing the lives of the three men who came from markedly different backgrounds. He also details how the game, thanks in part to the success of the Cubs, gained a massive foothold in Chicago and elsewhere throughout the country.”

Rapp was also recently interviewed about the book on the New Books Network podcast where he gives some additional insight on the subject matter of the book as well as the process involved in writing it.

Coming up before the game this Monday Rapp will also join in on WGN’s Cubs home opener broadcast from
Murphy’s Bleachers on April 9 at 9:30 a.m.

Check out some of the links above or find out more about the book on the University of Chicago Press website.