Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now

Frank Chance, the Pearless Leader

Posted on May 26, 2013 by Dean Hybl


Frank Chance

Frank Chance

The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former Chicago Cubs player and manager who is best remembered as part of a sports trio forever immortalized in verse.

Known as “The Peerless Leader”, Frank Chance was not only the starting first baseman for the Chicago Cubs, but as their manager he led the team to four World Series appearances between 1906 and 1910.
Like his teammates Joe Tinker and Johnny Evers, Chance is known to generations of baseball fans thanks to the 1910 poem “Baseball’s Sad Lexicon”, which was written by Franklin Pierce Adams. The poem, written from the vantage point of a Giants fan, refers to the double-play ability of the three Chicago infielders, all of which are members of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Of the three, Chance was the most accomplished as a hitter and also was the unquestioned field leader of the Cubs.

A career .296 hitter, Chance hit over .300 four times in his career, including a career-best .327 in 1903. He also led the NL with 67 stolen bases that season, a rare accomplishment for a first baseman.

Playing in the dead ball era, Chance had 200 career doubles, 79 triples and 20 home runs. He drove in 596 runs, stole 401 bases and had a career on base percentage of .394.

Taking over as manager of the Cubs in 1905, he led them to NL Pennants in 1906, 1907, 1908 and 1910. They claimed the World Series titles in 1907 and 1908. As every baseball fan knows, the Cubs have not won the title since then.

In the 1910 World Series, Chance was the player ever ejected from a World Series game as he was tossed from game three. The Cubs lost the series in five games to the Philadelphia A’s.

He left the Cubs in 1912 and spent two seasons as manager of the New York Yankees. He later served as manager and part owner of the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League.

His lifetime record as a manager was 946-648.

Chance passed away in 1924 at the age of 48.

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