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David Rapp: Tinker to Evers to Chance: The Chicago Cubs and the Dawn of Modern America

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In Conversation with NPR's Ron Elving

Tinker to Evers to Chance examines a pivotal moment in American history, when baseball became the game we know today, and when spectator sports first gripped the national psyche with "baseball fever." The Chicago Cubs was the first sports dynasty of the 20th century, led by three self-effacing heroes named Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and Frank Chance. They came together in rough-and-tumble Chicago to lead the Cubs to four National League pennants and two World Series championships from 1906 to 1910. 

Each man brought a distinctive local culture with him: Evers from the Irish-American hothouse of Troy, New York; Tinker from the urban parklands of Kansas City, Missouri; Chance from the verdant fields of California's Central Valley. Their stories shed unexpected light not only on the evolution of baseball, on the enthusiasm of its players and fans all across America, but also on the broader convulsions transforming the US into a confident new industrial society.

This iconic trio helped baseball reinvent itself, but their legend has largely been relegated to myths and barroom trivia. David Rapp, a longtime journalist in Washington, DC., resets the story and brings these men to life again — a rare look at the forces behind baseball's emergence as the national pastime. 

“In the first decade of the twentieth century, America, Chicago, and baseball were revving up and feeling their oats, in tandem. Rapp’s telling of this coming-of-age story crackles with the energy of the era he describes.”—George F. Will, author of A Nice Little Place on the North Side: Wrigley Field at One Hundred

David Rapp is a longtime Washington journalist and former editor of Congressional Quarterly and Roll Call. He got his start covering Indiana school sports for his hometown Evansville Press. He lives on Capitol Hill with his wife, Lee Anne George, and sings in the bass section of the Capitol Hill Chorale. 

David Rapp will be in conversation with NPR Senior Editor and Washington Desk Correspondent Ron Elving

600 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002

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