Harry Steinfeldt: The Other Man in Baseball’s Greatest Infield

Helmar R321 card featuring the Chicago Cubs legendary infield from the early 1900s.

The third baseman in one of the most successful infields in baseball history, a quartet that propelled the Cubs to four pennants in six seasons, Harry Steinfeldt is the only non-Hall of Famer in that group. Teammates Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers, and Frank Chance were helped by a poet’s kind words. I guess it’s hard to rhyme with “Steinfeldt.”

Those Cubs teams were the most stable in history. They had the same catcher in 1906, 1907, and 1908 and again in 1910, Johnny Kling, who only missed the 1909 season because he was running his new pool hall. The left fielder all five years was Jimmy Sheckard and the right fielder was Frank “Wildfire” Schulte, a daring baserunner who stole home like it was a bodily function. Only at center field did the Cubs have transition, from tiny little Jimmy Slagle (1906-08) to Solly Hoffman (1909 and beyond). Hoffman was even more outlandish and daring than Schulte and the free-spirited Sheckard. If you ran into any one of the three Cubs outfielders in those days, a good time was guaranteed. The Cubs won the “World’s Series” in 1907 and 1908, and in 1906 they won an astounding 116 games in a 154-game season. A lot of folks forget about them, but the Cubs of that era are one of the greatest teams to ever take the field.  

Steinfeldt suffered from anxiety disorder, which didn’t bother him much until late in his career after he had left the Cubs. In 1911 he latched on with the Boston Braves after having failed to convince the Cubs to give him a three-year contract. In early July he left a game when he had an anxiety attack and couldn’t calm himself down. He stayed out of the lineup for days, saw a doctor, and consulted with his wife, who desperately wanted him to come home and give up his baseball career. Harry was admitted to a hospital for exhaustion and sat out the remainder of the season. In 1912 he accepted a position as a player/manager with the Louisville Colonels, but didn’t get out of the first month of the season before he was sick again, suffering from hypertension and chest pains. Two years later after yet another attempt to get back in baseball failed, Steinfeldt returned home where he died of a cerebral hemorrhage. He was only 37 years old. 

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