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Johnny Evers


Position: Second baseman
Teams: Chicago Cubs, 1902-1913; Boston Braves, 1914-1917, 1929; Philadelphia Phillies, 1917; Chicago White Sox, 1922
Manager: Chicago Cubs, 1913, 1921; Chicago White Sox, 1924

John Joseph Evers (1881-1947) was a devout student of the game. Even in a time when players were much more concerned with its history and its intricacies than they are today, Evers stood alone in his almost fanatical obsession with the nuances of his chosen profession.

His diligence was attributed to his having to gain every extra advantage he could, owing to his size. At 5 feet 9 inches, Evers was about average height for his time, but he weighed barely 100 pounds when he turned professional in 1902.

 

Hall of Famer Johnny Evers
Despite his scrawny size, Johnny Evers was a key player
on five championship teams, four of them in Chicago.

Whatever the reason, though, for Johnny's ruthless devotion to learning everything there was to know about baseball, it paid off for him. Not only did he enjoy an extraordinarily successful major-league career after initially being judged too fragile to last even in a single game in top company, but in 1908 he played a key role in perhaps the most important incident in a major-league game that turned on a rule interpretation.

 

It happened in a late-September contest at the Polo Grounds between the Giants and Evers's Cubs. The Cubs, shooting for their third straight pennant, seemingly were about to be dethroned when Al Bridwell of the Giants singled in the bottom of the ninth inning to bring home Moose McCormick with the apparent winning run.

Evers, always on the alert, noticed that Fred Merkle, the Giants runner at first base, headed for the clubhouse in center field as soon as Bridwell delivered his hit. Calling for the ball, Evers began screaming to umpire Hank O'Day that Merkle was out on a force play at second base since he had neglected to touch the bag before leaving.

O'Day had been through this same scenario before with Evers earlier in the season and was disposed to make the only decision that complied with the rule book. He declared Merkle out at second, provoking a near riot that prevented the game, now tied again, from continuing.

When the Giants and the Cubs finished the season deadlocked, the teams replayed the tie game and the Cubs won. Thanks largely to Evers, the Cubs thus captured their third straight flag.

Johnny played on four pennant winners altogether in Chicago. In 1914 he played on a fifth flag team, the Miracle Braves of Boston. Evers's role in Boston's triumph was deemed to have been so critical that he was voted the NL's MVP. Although he was only age 31, it was his final season as a full-time player. Evers was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1946.

Here are Johnny Evers' major league totals:

BAGABR
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
SB
.270
1,783
6,134
919
1,658
216
70
12
538
324

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