Florida Frontiers “Chicago Cubs Central Florida Connection”

The Chicago Cubs won the 2016 World Series Championship. The Cubs came back from a 3-1 game deficit to play a full series of 7 games. The final game required an extra tenth inning for the Cubs to defeat the Cleveland Indians in a dramatic 8-7 finish, following a rain delay. The win ended a 108-year drought for the Cubs, the longest in Major League Baseball history.

The 1906 Cubs won a record setting 116 of 154 games played that season. The team was the first to play in three consecutive World Series Championships, and the first to win twice in a row, in 1907 and 1908.

The last time that the Cubs won the World Series, in 1908, Joe Tinker was an important player on the team. Tinker has strong ties to Central Florida, and played a key role in the development of the Orlando area.

From 1902-1912, Cubs shortstop Joe Tinker, second baseman Johnny Evers, and first baseman Frank Chance perfected a double play combination that helped to defeat opposing teams. The 1910 poem “Baseball’s Sad Lexicon” by Franklin Pierce Adams is written from the perspective of a New York Giants fan.

These are the saddest 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.”

The three teammates were elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946.

Tinker played for the Cubs from 1902-1913. After one season with the Cincinnati Reds, Tinker returned to the Cubs as a player and manager until 1916. After leaving the Cubs, Tinker was part owner and manager of a minor league team, the Columbus Senators.

Tinker’s wife had persistent health problems, and they decided to move to Orlando in 1920. Tinker became owner and manager of the Orlando Tigers.

“The Tigers were the second incarnation of Orlando’s initial baseball franchise,” says Michael Perkins, executive director of the Orange County Regional History Center. “They were the Caps in 1919 and ’20, then the Tigers in 1921, and then the Bulldogs in until 1924. All of the teams played Class C baseball in the Florida State League. The Tigers won the League under Tinker’s management in 1921.”

Using wealth he had acquired from a successful career in professional baseball, Tinker started a real estate company, buying and selling land in Orange County and Seminole County. Tinker profited greatly from the Florida Land Boom of the 1920s. His offices were in the Tinker Building at 16 and 17 West Pine St. in Orlando, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“The Tinker Building cost Tinker $90,000 to build in 1925, an enormous sum for the time,” says Perkins. “It held his real estate offices for about two years before Florida’s economic collapse of 1927 caused the local real estate market to bust.”

Orlando’s Tinker Field, named after Joe Tinker, is adjacent to the Citrus Bowl. Tinker Field has served as the Spring Training home of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds, Washington Senators, and Minnesota Twins. It was also the original home field of the Orlando Rays. While not as iconic as the Cubs home at Wrigley Field in North Chicago, Orlando’s Tinker Field is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

On Christmas Day, 1923, Tinker’s wife Ruby committed suicide following an apparent nervous breakdown. In 1926, he was remarried to Mary Ross Eddington of Orlando.

“By 1930, he had lost his considerable fortune and actually went on a ten week theatrical tour of the country with a small troupe that included his old team mate, Johnny Evers,” says Perkins. “He spent the rest of his life in and around baseball, and helped convince the Cincinnati Reds and Washington Senators to hold their Spring Training games in Orlando.”

Tinker died of complications from diabetes in Orange Memorial Hospital on July 27, 1948, his 68th birthday. He is buried in Orlando’s historic Greenwood Cemetery.

It’s been 108 years since the Chicago Cubs last won the World Series Championship, when Tinker played for the team.

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Relevant Date: 

15 Nov 2016

Article Number: 

139

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