PDI Blog

Presidential Post - July 15, 2013


Brent Willett 2012

Brent Willett
PDI President

These are the saddest of possible words:
"Tinker to Evers to Chance."
Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds,
Tinker and Evers and Chance.
Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble,
Making a Giant hit into a double –
Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble:
"Tinker to Evers to Chance."

These words were written more than 100 years ago on July 10, 1910 by Franklin Pierce Adams in the New York Evening Mail about three-quarters of the infield of the 1907 Chicago Cubs. That team- the greatest of all time [some of you likely will disagree and cite the 1927 Yankees as the greatest team ever, while others may scoff and argue the 1975 Reds were the finest to take the field. Fortunately none of you are writing this memo.] swept the Detroit Tigers to claim the World Series title that year despite a completely dysfunctional relationship among its best players.

Even to this day "Tinker to Evers to Chance" suggests well-oiled teamwork to anyone who reads it, baseball fan or not. However, explosive personality conflicts were seething just below the surface. Evers and Tinker hated each other and never spoke except when absolutely necessary on the field- Tinker attributed it to an incident where Evers once took a taxi to the ballpark without waiting for him [as good a reason as any to hold an unalloyed grudge for years]. Yet the two put aside differences every day and joined with Chance to form perhaps the best infield in history, an accomplishment which suggests, given what's required of a good baseball infield- unmitigated trust, absolute coordination and an innate understanding of the instincts of three other people at every turn- that differences off the field needn't impair the performance and path toward the greater goal on it.

There's something to Adam's rendering of the solidarity, communication and collaboration necessary to execute the perfect double play despite exterior factors that could derail it, I think, that we can take with when thinking about to the sorts of collaborative economic development efforts that, as far as I can tell, every PDI member is engaged in to one extent or another. To pull off any project- large or small, public or private, our idea or theirs- requires incredible coordination on the part of the economic developer. Coordination of agencies, of personalities, of priorities, of agendas- you name it- it often is the singular responsibility of the economic developer to execute what on the surface [to the media, to your investors, to your mom] looks to be a flawless 6-4-3 double play to win the game but in the background was a spectacular challenge overcome only though a deftness of skill demonstrated by you in areas ranging from development finance to political advocacy to public relations. That's a pretty cool responsibility- find me another profession with such a rich portfolio of responsibility and opportunity.

Whether it's the achievement of a Microsoft announcement in West Des Moines or a multi-family housing renaissance in Charles City, the fundamentals are the same. Tinker to Evers to Chance. EDC to P&Z to Council. COG to EDA to developer. City to Utility to County. What matters is the result, and it's up to us to ensure when the ball comes bouncing our way, our partners are in place to instinctively execute on the opportunity.

Despite their off-the-field differences, Tinker, Evers and Chance were voted into the Hall of Fame as a unit in 1946.

What matters is the result.


Brent Willett
President, Professional Developers of Iowa 

Written by Brent Willett
Categories :

Comments on this post