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Frank Chance: First Baseman, Manager... Author?


You may have heard of Frank Chance, the old-time Cubs Hall of Famer. (Besides being one of the finest first basemen of his era and manager of the last Cubs team to win the World Series, he was also immortalized [1] in verse by Franklin P. Adams as part of the "Tinker to Evers to Chance" infield.) But who knew that Chance was also a published novelist? I was browsing through Southern Illinois University's annotated bibliography of Illinois fiction, and was pleasantly surprised to stumble across this entry:
The Bride and the Pennant; The Greatest Story in the History of America's National Game, True to Life--Intensely Interesting, by Frank L. Chance, Manager of the Chicago "Cubs." With a Preface by Charles A. Comiskey, President of the White Sox. Chicago: Laird & Lee, Publishers. [1910.] 182p.

Harry Sherman, star pitcher for the University of Chicago baseball team, flunks out of school in his senior year and is no longer eligible to play varsity baseball. On the rebound, Sherman joins the New Orleans Bears and begins the rigorous training and grueling round of travel and performance required of professional baseball players. Although the plot concerns a New Orleans team, the deciding games for the pennant are played in Chicago, making that city the site for much of the action of the novel. Professional baseball has seen sweeping changes since 1910, and the baseball buff will find considerable entertainment in comparing the game as it is described in this novel with the game as it is played today. (N. Y. Times Book Review, 6/11/1910, p. 336.)
Though the book is pretty obscure, I did find this undated review by Clarence E. Turner in The Journal of the Rutgers University Library.
This curious little book is of undoubted interest to the baseball fan or to the baseball historian. As literature, it does what the minor works of a period always do: it throws into relief, as by a process of caricature, the conventions and fads of the moment and becomes thus a kind of sad and amusing footnote to Edith Wharton.
Sounds like its obscurity is justified by the quality of the prose, which is about what one would expect from a professional athlete of a hundred years ago. Still, it's probably an interesting period piece, especially for baseball fans. Good luck finding it, though.

[1] "Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble" might be my favorite line of poetry, ever.

August 22, 2012 in Books, Chicago Observations | Permalink


I found two copies on ABE Books. One is only $1,750. The only is a bit more: $3,375.

Posted by: Paul Lamb at Aug 23, 2012 3:56:27 PM

I have a friend who's a Cubs fan who's now happy to know about this novel. I thought it'd be there for the taking in Google Books, but no. There are two copies at Advanced Book Exchange, very pricey. I wonder if any library would let this out as an interlibrary loan.

Posted by: Michael Leddy at Aug 24, 2012 10:00:37 AM

At the prices that Paul noted, I doubt any library would circulate this. And it's not on Project Gutenberg or Internet Archive either.

Posted by: Pete at Aug 27, 2012 9:56:41 AM