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Tyrus Raymond Cobb

Birthdate: (74)
Birthplace: Narrows, Georgia, United States
Death: July 17, 1961 (74)
Atlanta, GA, United States
Place of Burial: Royston Cemetery, Royston, Hart County, Georgia
Immediate Family:

Son of William Herschel Cobb and Amanda Cobb
Ex-husband of Frances Cobb; Charlotte Marion Cobb and Private
Father of Dr. Tyrus Raymond Cobb, Jr.; Shirley Marion Beckwith; Herschel Roswell Cobb; William Hershel Cobb; Beverly Cobb and 1 other
Brother of John Paul Cobb, Sr and Florence Leslie Cobb

Occupation: Baseball
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Ty Cobb

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ty_Cobb

Tyrus Raymond "Ty" Cobb (December 18, 1886 – July 17, 1961), nicknamed "The Georgia Peach," was an American outfielder in baseball born in Narrows, Georgia. Cobb spent 22 seasons with the Detroit Tigers, the last six as the team's player-manager, and finished his career with the Philadelphia Athletics.

Cobb is widely regarded as one of the best players of all time. In 1936, Cobb received the most votes of any player on the inaugural Baseball Hall of Fame ballot, receiving 222 out of a possible 226 votes.

Cobb is widely credited with setting 90 Major League Baseball records during his career. He still holds several records as of 2010, including the highest career batting average (.366 or .367, depending on source) and most career batting titles with 11 (or 12, depending on source). He retained many other records for almost a half century or more, including most career hits until 1985 (4,189 or 4,191, depending on source), most career runs (2,245 or 2,246 depending on source) until 2001, most career games played (3,035) and at bats (11,429 or 11,434 depending on source) until 1974, and the modern record for most career stolen bases (892) until 1977. He committed 271 errors in his career, the most by any American League outfielder.

Cobb's legacy as an athlete has sometimes been overshadowed by his surly temperament and aggressive playing style, which was described by the Detroit Free Press as "daring to the point of dementia."

Early life and baseball career

Ty Cobb was born in Narrows, Georgia, in 1886, the first of three children to Amanda Chitwood Cobb and William Herschel Cobb.

Cobb spent his first years in baseball as a member of the Royston Rompers, the semi-pro Royston Reds, and the Augusta Tourists of the South Atlantic League. However, the Tourists released Cobb two days into the season. He then tried out for the Anniston Steelers of the semi-pro Tennessee-Alabama League, with his father's stern admonition ringing in his ears: "Don't come home a failure." After joining the Steelers for a monthly salary of $50, Cobb promoted himself by sending several postcards written about his talents under different aliases to Grantland Rice, the sports editor of the Atlanta Journal. Eventually, Rice wrote a small note in the Journal that a "young fellow named Cobb seems to be showing an unusual lot of talent." After about three months, Ty returned to the Tourists. He finished the season hitting .237 in 35 games. In August 1905, the management of the Tourists sold Cobb to the American League's Detroit Tigers for US$500 and $750.

On August 8, 1905, Ty's mother fatally shot his father. William Cobb suspected his wife of infidelity, and was sneaking past his own bedroom window to catch her in the act; she saw the silhouette of what she presumed to be an intruder, and, acting in self-defense, shot and killed her husband. Mrs. Cobb was charged with murder and then released on a $7,000 recognizance bond. She was acquitted on March 31, 1906. Cobb later attributed his ferocious play to the death of his father, saying, "I did it for my father. He never got to see me play ... but I knew he was watching me, and I never let him down."

Major League career

The early years

Three weeks after his mother killed his father, Cobb debuted in center field for the Detroit Tigers. On August 30, 1905, in his first major league at-bat, Cobb doubled off the New York Highlanders's Jack Chesbro who had won a record 41 games the previous season. That season Cobb was 18 years old, the youngest player in the league by almost a year, and he batted .240 in 41 games, enough to win a lucrative $1,500 contract from the Tigers for 1906.

Although rookie hazing was customary, Cobb could not endure it in good humor, and he soon became alienated from his teammates. He later attributed his hostile temperament to this experience: "These old-timers turned me into a snarling wildcat." Tigers manager Hughie Jennings later acknowledged that Cobb was targeted for abuse by veteran players, some of whom sought to force him off the team. "I let this go for awhile because I wanted to satisfy myself that Cobb has as much guts as I thought in the very beginning", Jennings recalled. "Well, he proved it to me, and I told the other players to let him alone. He is going to be a great baseball player and I won't allow him to be driven off this club".

The following year, 1906, Cobb became the Tigers' full-time center fielder and hit .316 in 98 games, the second highest batting average ever for a 19 year old. He would never hit below that mark again. Cobb, following a move to right field, led the Tigers to three consecutive American League pennants from 1907-1909. Detroit would lose each World Series, however, with Cobb's post-season numbers being much below his career standard.

Four times in his career, the first in 1907, Cobb reached first, stole second, stole third, and then stole home. He finished 1907 season with a league high .350 batting average, 212 hits, 49 steals and 119 runs batted in (RBI).At age 20, Cobb became the youngest player to win a batting championship and held this record until 1955 when fellow Detroit Tiger Al Kaline won the batting title when he was twelve days younger than Cobb had been. Despite great success on the field, Cobb was no stranger to controversy off it. Cobb, who was a notorious racist, fought a black groundskeeper over the condition of the Tigers' field in Augusta, Georgia at Spring Training in 1907, Cobb also ended up choking the man's wife when she intervened.

I always find that a drink of Coca-Cola between the games refreshes me to such an extent that I can start the second game feeling as if I had not been exercising at all, in spite of my exertions in the first.

Ty Cobb,

In September 1907, Cobb began a relationship with The Coca-Cola Company that would last the remainder of his life. By the time he died, he owned over 20,000 shares of stock and three bottling plants: one in Santa Maria, California; one in Twin Falls, Idaho; and one in Bend, Oregon. He was also a celebrity spokesman for the product.

In the off-season between 1907 and 1908, Cobb negotiated with Clemson Agricultural College of South Carolina, offering to coach baseball there "for $250 a month, provided that he did not sign with Detroit that season." This did not come to pass, however.

The following season, the Tigers defeated the Chicago White Sox for the pennant. Cobb again won the batting title with a .324 batting average. Despite another loss in the Series, Cobb had something to celebrate. In August 1908, he married Charlotte "Charlie" Marion Lombard, the daughter of prominent Augustan Roswell Lombard. In the offseason, Cobb and his wife lived in his father-in-law's Augusta estate, The Oaks. In November 1913, the couple moved into their own house on Williams Street.

The Tigers won the American League pennant again in 1909. During the Series, Cobb stole home in the second game, igniting a three-run rally, but that was the high point for Cobb. He ended batting a lowly .231 in his last World Series, as the Tigers lost in seven games. Although he performed poorly in the post-season, Cobb won the Triple Crown by hitting .377 with 107 RBI and nine home runs – all inside-the-park. Cobb thus became the only player of the modern era to lead his league in home runs in a season without hitting a ball over the fence.

It was also in 1909 that Charles M. Conlon snapped his famous photograph of a grimacing Ty Cobb sliding into third base amid a cloud of dirt, which visually captured the grit and ferocity of Cobb's playing style.[44]

1910: Chalmers Award controversy

Going into the final days of the 1910 season, Cobb had an .004 lead on Nap Lajoie for the American League batting title. The prize for the winner of the title was a Chalmers Automobile. Cobb sat out the final games to preserve his average. Nap Lajoie hit safely eight times in his teams' doubleheader. However, six of those hits were bunt singles, and later came under scrutiny. Regardless, Cobb was credited with a higher batting average. However it was later found out that one game was counted twice and so Cobb technically lost to Nap Lajoie.

As a result of the incident, Ban Johnson was forced to arbitrate the situation. He declared Cobb the rightful owner of the title. However, the Chalmers company elected to award a car to both of the players.

1911 season and onward

Cobb regarded baseball as "something like a war," Charlie Gehringer said. "Every time at bat for him was a crusade. ." The baseball historian John Thorn has said, "He is testament to how far you can get simply through will... Cobb was pursued by demons."

Cobb was having a tremendous year in 1911, which included a 40-game hitting streak. Still, "Shoeless" Joe Jackson had a .009 point lead on him in batting average. What happened next is discussed in Cobb's autobiography. Near the end of the season, Cobb’s Tigers had a long series against Jackson and the Cleveland Naps. Fellow Southerners, Cobb and Jackson were personally friendly both on and off the field. Cobb used that friendship for his advantage. Whenever Jackson said anything to him, he ignored him. When Jackson persisted, Cobb snapped angrily at Jackson, making him wonder what he could have done to enrage Cobb. Cobb felt that it was these mind games that caused Jackson to "fall off" to a final average of .408, while Cobb himself finished with a .420 average.

I often tried plays that looked recklessly daring, maybe even silly. But I never tried anything foolish when a game was at stake, only when we were far ahead or far behind. I did it to study how the other team reacted, filing away in my mind any observations for future use.

Cobb led the AL that year in numerous categories besides batting average, including 248 hits, 147 runs scored, 127 RBI, 83 stolen bases, 47 doubles, 24 triples, and a .621 slugging average. The only major offensive category in which Cobb did not finish first was home runs, where Frank Baker surpassed him 11-8. He was awarded another Chalmers, this time for being voted the AL MVP by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

A game that illustrates Cobb's unique combination of skills and attributes occurred on May 12, 1911. Playing against the New York Highlanders, Cobb scored a run from first base on a single to right field, then scored another run from second base on a wild pitch. In the 7th inning, he tied the game with a two-run double. The Highlanders catcher vehemently argued the call with the umpire, going on at such length that the other Highlanders infielders gathered nearby to watch. Realizing that no one on the Highlanders had called time, Cobb strolled unobserved to third base, and then casually walked towards home plate as if to get a better view of the argument. He then suddenly slid into home plate for the game's winning run. It was performances like this that led Branch Rickey to say later that "[Cobb] had brains in his feet."

On May 15, 1912, Cobb assaulted a heckler, Claude Lueker, in the stands in New York. Lueker and Cobb had traded insults with each other through the first three innings, and the situation climaxed when Lueker called Cobb a "nigger lover." Cobb, in his discussion of the incident (My Life in Baseball: The True Record, Ty Cobb and Al Stump, Doubleday, 1961, pp. 131–135), avoided such explicit words, but alluded to it by saying the man was "reflecting on my mother's color and morals." Cobb stated in the book that he warned Highlanders manager Harry Wolverton that if something wasn't done about the man, there would be trouble. No action was taken. At the end of the sixth inning, after being challenged by teammates Sam Crawford and Jim Delahanty to do something about it, Cobb climbed into the stands and attacked Lueker, who it turns out was handicapped (he had lost all of one hand and three fingers on his other hand in an industrial accident). When onlookers shouted at Cobb to stop because the man had no hands, Cobb reportedly replied, "I don't care if he got no feet!"

The league suspended him, and his teammates, though not fond of Cobb, went on strike to protest the suspension, and the lack of protection of players from abusive fans, prior to the May 18 game in Philadelphia. For that one game, Detroit fielded a replacement team made up of college and sandlot ballplayers, plus two Detroit coaches, and lost, 24-2. Some of Major League Baseball's "modern era" (post-1901) negative records were established in this game, notably the 26 hits in a nine-inning game allowed by Allan Travers, who pitched one of the sport's most unlikely complete games.

The strike ended when Cobb urged his teammates to return to the field. According to Cobb, this incident led to the formation of a players' union, the "Ballplayers' Fraternity" (formally the Fraternity of Professional Baseball Players of America), an early version of what is now called the Major League Baseball Players Association, and garnered some concessions from the owners. During Cobb's career, he was involved in numerous fights, both on and off the field, and several profanity-laced shouting matches. For example, Cobb and umpire Billy Evans arranged to settle their in-game differences through fisticuffs, to be conducted under the grandstand after the game. Members of both teams were spectators, and broke up the scuffle after Cobb had knocked Evans down, pinned him, and began choking him. Cobb once slapped a black elevator operator for being "uppity." When a black night watchman intervened, Cobb pulled out a knife and stabbed him. The matter was later settled out of court.

"Sure, I fought," said an unrepentant Cobb in a revealing quote. "I had to fight all my life just to survive. They were all against me. Tried every dirty trick to cut me down, but I beat the bastards and left them in the ditch."

1915–1921

In 1915, Cobb set the single-season record for stolen bases, with 96. This record stood until Maury Wills broke it in 1962. Cobb’s streak of five batting titles (believed at the time to be nine straight) ended the following year when he finished second with .371 to Tris Speaker’s .386.

In 1917, Cobb hit in 35 consecutive games; he remains the only player with two 35-game hitting streaks to his credit (Cobb had a 40-game hitting streak in 1911). Over his career, Cobb had six hitting streaks of at least 20 games, second only to Pete Rose's seven.

Also in 1917, Cobb starred in the motion picture Somewhere in Georgia for a sum of $25,000 plus expenses. Based on a story by sports columnist Grantland Rice, the film casts Cobb as "himself", a small-town Georgian bank clerk with a talent for baseball. Broadway critic Ward Morehouse called the movie "absolutely the worst flicker I ever saw, pure hokum."

In October 1918, Cobb enlisted in the Chemical Corps branch of the United States Army and was sent to the Allied Expeditionary Forces headquarters in Chaumont, France. He served approximately 67 days overseas before receiving an honorable discharge and returning to the United States. Cobb served as a captain underneath the command of Major Branch Rickey, the president of the St. Louis Cardinals. Other baseball players serving in this unit included Captain Christy Mathewson and Lieutenant George Sisler.[60] All of these men were assigned to the Gas and Flame Division where they trained soldiers in preparation for chemical attacks by exposing them to gas chambers in a controlled environment.

On August 19, 1921, in the second game of a double header against Elmer Myers of the Boston Red Sox, Cobb collected his 3,000th hit. Aged 34 at the time, Cobb is the youngest ballplayer to reach the milestone, and in the fewest at-bats (8,093).

By 1920, Babe Ruth had established himself as a power hitter, something Cobb was not considered to be. When Cobb and the Tigers showed up in New York to play the Yankees for the first time that season, writers billed it as a showdown between two stars of competing styles of play. Ruth hit two homers and a triple during the series, compared to Cobb's one single.

As Ruth's popularity grew, Cobb became increasingly hostile toward him. Cobb saw Ruth not only as a threat to his style of play, but also to his style of life. While Cobb preached ascetic self-denial, Ruth gorged on hot dogs, beer, and women. Perhaps what angered him the most about Ruth was that despite Ruth's total disregard for his physical condition and traditional baseball, he was still an overwhelming success and brought fans to the ballparks in record numbers to see him set his own records.

After enduring several years of seeing his fame and notoriety usurped by Ruth, Cobb decided that he was going to show that swinging for the fences was no challenge for a top hitter. On May 5, 1925, Cobb began a two-game hitting spree better than any even Ruth had unleashed. He was sitting in the dugout talking to a reporter and told him that, for the first time in his career, he was going to swing for the fences. That day, Cobb went 6 for 6, with two singles, a double, and three home runs. His 16 total bases set a new AL record. The next day he had three more hits, two of which were home runs. His single his first time up gave him 9 consecutive hits over three games. His five homers in two games tied the record set by Cap Anson of the old Chicago NL team in 1884. Cobb wanted to show that he could hit home runs when he wanted, but simply chose not to do so. At the end of the series, 38-year-old Cobb had gone 12 for 19 with 29 total bases, and then went happily back to bunting and hitting-and-running. For his part, Ruth's attitude was that "I could have had a lifetime .600 average, but I would have had to hit them singles. The people were paying to see me hit home runs."

Cobb as player/manager

Frank Navin, the Detroit Tigers owner, signed Cobb to take over for Hughie Jennings as manager for the 1921 season. Cobb signed the deal on his 34th birthday for $32,500 (or $398,000 in 2008 dollars). The signing surprised the baseball world. Although Cobb was a legendary player, he was disliked throughout the baseball community, even by his own teammates; and he expected as much from his players as he gave, a standard most players couldn't meet.

The closest Cobb came to winning the pennant race was in 1924, when the Tigers finished in third place, six games behind the pennant-winning Washington Senators. The Tigers had finished second in 1922, but were 16 games behind the Yankees.

Cobb blamed his lackluster managerial record (479 wins-444 losses) on Navin, who was arguably an even more frugal man than Cobb. Navin passed up a number of quality players that Cobb wanted to add to the team. In fact, Navin had saved money by hiring Cobb to manage the team.

Also in 1922, Cobb tied a batting record set by Wee Willie Keeler, with four five-hit games in a season. This has since been matched by Stan Musial, Tony Gwynn and Ichiro Suzuki.

At the end of 1925 Cobb was once again embroiled in a batting title race, this time with one of his teammates and players, Harry Heilmann. In a doubleheader against the St. Louis Browns on October 4, 1925, Heilmann got six hits to lead the Tigers to a sweep of the doubleheader and beat Cobb for the batting crown, .393 to .389. Cobb and Browns manager George Sisler each pitched in the final game. Cobb pitched a perfect inning.

Move to Philadelphia

Cobb finally called it quits from a 22-year career as a Tiger in November 1926. He announced his retirement and headed home to Augusta, Georgia. Shortly thereafter, Tris Speaker also retired as player-manager of the Cleveland team. The retirement of two great players at the same time sparked some interest, and it turned out that the two were coerced into retirement because of allegations of game-fixing brought about by Dutch Leonard, a former pitcher of Cobb's.

Leonard accused former pitcher and outfielder Smoky Joe Wood and Cobb of betting on a Tiger-Cleveland game played in Detroit on September 25, 1919, in which they allegedly orchestrated a Detroit victory to win the bet. Leonard claimed proof existed in letters written to him by Cobb and Wood. Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis held a secret hearing with Cobb, Speaker, and Wood. A second secret meeting amongst the AL directors led to Cobb and Speaker resigning with no publicity; however, rumors of the scandal led Judge Landis to hold additional hearings. Leonard subsequently refused to appear at the hearings. Cobb and Wood admitted to writing the letters, but they claimed it was a horse racing bet, and that Leonard's accusations were in retaliation for Cobb's having released Leonard from the Tigers to the minor leagues. Speaker denied any wrongdoing.

On January 27, 1927, Judge Landis cleared Cobb and Speaker of any wrongdoing because of Leonard's refusal to appear at the hearings. Landis allowed both Cobb and Speaker to return to their original teams, and both became free agents. Speaker signed with the Washington Senators for 1927; Cobb signed with the Philadelphia Athletics. Speaker then joined Cobb in Philadelphia for the 1928 season. Cobb said he came back only to seek vindication, and so that he could say he left baseball on his own terms.

Cobb played regularly in 1927 for a young and talented team that finished second to one of the greatest teams of all time, the 1927 Yankees, which won 110 games. He returned to Detroit to a tumultuous welcome on May 11, 1927. Cobb doubled in his first at bat, to the cheers of Tiger fans. On July 18, 1927, Cobb became the first player to enter the 4000 hit club when he doubled off former teammate Sam Gibson of the Detroit Tigers at Navin Field.

1927 was also the final season of Washington Senators pitcher Walter Johnson's career. With their careers largely overlapping, Ty Cobb faced Johnson more times than any other batter-pitcher matchup in baseball history. Cobb also got the first hit allowed in Johnson's career. After Johnson hit Detroit's Ossie Vitt with a pitch in August 1915, seriously injuring him, Cobb realized that Johnson was fearful of hitting opponents. He used this knowledge to his advantage, by standing closer to the plate.

Cobb returned for the 1928 season. He played less frequently due to his age and the blossoming abilities of the young A's, who were again in a pennant race with the Yankees. On September 3, 1928, Ty Cobb pinch hit in the 9th inning of the first game of a double-header against the Senators and doubled off Bump Hadley for his last career hit. Against the Yankees on September 11, 1928, Cobb had his last at bat popping out against pitcher Hank Johnson, grounding out to shortstop Mark Koenig as a 9th-inning pinch hitter. He then announced his retirement, effective at the end of the season. Cobb ended his career with 23 consecutive seasons batting .300 or better (the only season under .300 being his rookie season), a major league record not likely to be broken.

Post professional career

Cobb retired a very rich and successful man. He toured Europe with his family, went to Scotland for some time then returned to his farm in Georgia. He spent his retirement pursuing his off-season activities of hunting, golfing, polo and fishing. His other pastime was trading stocks and bonds, increasing his immense personal wealth. Among his other holdings, Cobb was a major stockholder in the Coca-Cola Corporation, which by itself would have made him a wealthy man.

In the winter of 1930, Cobb moved into a Spanish ranch estate on Spencer Lane in the millionaire's community of Atherton outside San Francisco, California. At that same time, his wife Charlie filed the first of several divorce suits; however, she withdrew that suit shortly thereafter. Charlie finally divorced Cobb in 1947, after 39 years of marriage, the last few of which she lived in nearby Menlo Park. The couple had three sons and two daughters: Tyrus Raymond, Jr., Shirley Marion, Herschel Roswell, James Howell, and Beverly.

Cobb had never had an easy time being a father and husband. His children had found him to be demanding, yet also capable of kindness and extreme warmth. Cobb had expected his boys to be exceptional athletes, especially baseball players. Cobb, Jr. flunked out of Princeton (where he had played on the varsity tennis team), much to the dismay of Cobb, Sr. The elder Cobb subsequently traveled to the Princeton campus and beat his son with a whip to insure against future academic failure. Cobb, Jr. then entered Yale University and became captain of the tennis team while improving his academics; however, he was arrested twice in 1930 for drunkenness and left Yale without graduating. Cobb, Sr. helped his son address the pending legal problems and then permanently broke off ties with the younger Cobb. Though Cobb Jr. eventually earned an M.D. in obstetrics from the Medical College of South Carolina and practiced in Dublin, Georgia, until his death at the age of forty-two on September 9, 1952, from a brain tumor, his father remained distant.

A personal achievement came in February, 1936, when the first Hall of Fame election results were announced. Cobb had been named on 222 of 226 ballots, outdistancing Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson, the only others to earn the necessary 75% of votes to be elected in that first year. His 98.2 percentage stood as the record until Tom Seaver received 98.8% of the vote in 1992 (Nolan Ryan and Cal Ripken have also surpassed Cobb, with 98.79% and 98.53% of the votes, respectively). Those incredible results show that although many people disliked him personally, they respected the way he played and what he accomplished. In 1998, The Sporting News ranked him as third on the list of 100 Greatest Baseball Players.

By the time he was elected into the Hall of Fame, Cobb drank and smoked heavily, and spent a great deal of time complaining about modern-day players' lack of fundamental skills. Cobb had positive things to say about Stan Musial, Phil Rizzuto, and Jackie Robinson, but few others. However, Cobb was known to help out young players. He was instrumental in helping Joe DiMaggio negotiate his rookie contract with the New York Yankees, but ended his friendship with Ted Williams when the latter suggested to him that Rogers Hornsby was a greater hitter than Cobb.

Cobb's competitive fires continued to burn after retirement. In 1941, Cobb faced Babe Ruth in a series of charity golf matches at courses outside New York, Boston and Detroit. (Cobb won.) At the 1947 Old Timers Game in Yankee Stadium, Cobb warned catcher Benny Bengough to move back, claiming he was rusty and hadn't swung a bat in almost 20 years. Bengough stepped back, to avoid being struck by Cobb's backswing. Having repositioned the catcher, Cobb cannily laid down a perfect bunt in front of the plate, and easily beat the throw from a surprised Bengough.

Another bittersweet moment in Cobb's life reportedly came in the late 1940s when he and sportswriter Grantland Rice were returning from the Masters golf tournament. Stopping at a Greenville, South Carolina liquor store, Cobb noticed that the man behind the counter was "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, who had been banned from baseball almost 30 years earlier following the Black Sox Scandal. But Jackson did not appear to recognize him, and finally Cobb asked, "Don't you know me, Joe?" “Sure I know you, Ty,” replied Jackson, “but I wasn't sure you wanted to know me. A lot of them don't.”

Cobb was mentioned in the poem "Line-Up for Yesterday" by Ogden Nash:

Lineup for Yesterday

C is for Cobb,

Who grew spikes and not corn,

And made all the basemen

Wish they weren't born.

— Ogden Nash, Sport magazine (January 1949

Later life

At 62, Cobb married a second time in 1949. His new wife was 40-year-old Frances Fairburn Cass, a divorcee from Buffalo, New York. This childless marriage also failed, and they divorced in 1956.

When two of his three sons died young, Cobb was alone, with few friends left. He began to be generous with his wealth, donating $100,000 in his parents' name for his hometown to build a modern 24 bed hospital, Cobb Memorial Hospital, which is now part of the Ty Cobb Healthcare System. He also established the Cobb Educational Fund, which awarded scholarships to needy Georgia students bound for college, by endowing it with a $100,000 donation in 1953 (or $820,000 in 2008 dollars).

Cobb knew that another way he could share his wealth was by having biographies written that would set the record straight and teach young players how to play. John McCallum spent some time with Cobb to write a combination how-to and biography titled The Tiger Wore Spikes: An Informal Biography of Ty Cobb that was published in 1956.

After McCallum completed his research for the book, Cobb was again alone and had a longing to return to Georgia. In December, 1959, Cobb was diagnosed with prostate cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and Bright's disease, a degenerative kidney disorder. He did not trust his initial diagnosis, however, so he went to Georgia to seek advice from doctors he knew, and they found his prostate to be cancerous. They removed it at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, but that did little to help Cobb. From this point until the end of his life, Cobb criss-crossed the country, going from his lodge in Tahoe to the hospital in Georgia.

It was also during his final years that Cobb began work on his autobiography, My Life in Baseball: The True Record, with writer Al Stump. Their collaboration was contentious, and after Cobb's death, Al Stump's side of the story was described in some of his other works, including the film Cobb. Cobb is regarded by some historians and journalists as the best player of the dead-ball era, and is generally seen as one of the greatest players of all time.

Death

In his last days, Cobb spent some time with the old movie comedian Joe E. Brown, talking about the choices Cobb had made in his life. He told Brown that he felt that he had made mistakes, and that he would do things differently if he could. He had played hard and lived hard all his life, and had no friends to show for it at the end, and he regretted it. Publicly, however, Cobb claimed not to have any regrets: "I've been lucky. I have no right to be regretful of what I did."

He checked into Emory Hospital for the last time in June, 1961, bringing with him a paper bag with over $1 million in negotiable bonds and a Luger pistol. His first wife, Charlie, his son Jimmy and other family members came to be with him for his final days. He died a month later, on July 17, 1961, at Emory University Hospital.

Approximately 150 friends and relatives attended a brief service in Cornelia, Georgia, and drove to the Cobb family mausoleum in Royston for the burial. Baseball's only representatives at his funeral were three old players, Ray Schalk, Mickey Cochrane, and Nap Rucker, along with Sid Keener, the director of the Baseball Hall of Fame; however, messages of condolences numbered in the hundreds. Family in attendance included Cobb's former wife, Charlie, his two daughters, his surviving son, Jimmy, his two sons-in-law, his daughter-in-law, Mary Dunn Cobb, and her two children.

At the time of his death, Cobb's estate was reported to be worth at least US$11,780,000, including $10 million worth of General Electric stock and $1.78 million in Coke stock. Altogether, the estate was equivalent to $86,320,000 in 2008 dollars. Cobb's will left a quarter of his estate to the Cobb Educational Fund, and distributed the rest among his children and grandchildren. Cobb is interred in the Rose Hill Cemetery in Royston, Georgia. As of 2005 the Ty Cobb Educational Foundation has distributed nearly $11 million in scholarships to needy Georgians.

Legacy

Ty Cobb was honored alongside the retired numbers of the Detroit Tigers in 2000.The greatness of Ty Cobb was something that had to be seen, and to see him was to remember him forever.

Efforts to create a Ty Cobb Memorial in Royston initially failed, primarily because most of the artifacts from his life were sent to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, and the Georgia town was viewed as too remote to make a memorial worthwhile. However, on July 17, 1998, the 37th anniversary of Cobb's death, the Ty Cobb Museum and the Franklin County Sports Hall of Fame opened its doors in Royston. On that day, Cobb was one of the first members to be inducted into the Franklin County Sports Hall of Fame. On August 30, 2005, his hometown hosted a 1905 baseball game to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Cobb's first major league game. Players in the game included many of Cobb's descendants as well as many citizens from his hometown of Royston. Another early-1900s baseball game was played in his hometown at Cobb Field on September 30, 2006, with Cobb's descendants and Roystonians again playing. Cobb's personal batboy from his major league years was also in attendance and threw out the first pitch. A third Ty Cobb Vintage Baseball Game was played on October 6, 2007. Many of Cobb's family and other relatives were in attendance for a "family reunion" theme. Appearing at the game again was Cobb's personal batboy who, with his son and grandson, made a large donation and a plaque to the Ty Cobb Museum in honor of their family's relationship with the Cobb family.

Ty Cobb's legacy also includes legions of collectors of his early tobacco card issues as well as game used memorabilia and autographs. Perhaps the most curious item remains the 1909 Ty Cobb with Ty Cobb Cigarettes pack, leaving some to believe Cobb either had or attempted to have his own brand of cigarettes. Very little about the card is known other than its similarity to the 1909 T206 Red Portrait card published by the American Tobacco Company, and until 2005 only a handful were known to exist. That year, a sizable cache of the cards was brought to auction by the family of a Royston, Georgia man who had stored them in a book for almost 100 years.

Crawford-Cobb rivalry

Sam Crawford and Ty Cobb were teammates for parts of thirteen seasons. They played beside each other in right and center field, and Crawford followed Cobb in the batting order year after year. Despite the physical closeness, the two had a complicated relationship.

Initially, they had a student-teacher relationship. Crawford was an established star when Cobb arrived, and Cobb eagerly sought his advice. In interviews with Al Stump, Cobb told of studying Crawford’s base stealing technique and of how Crawford would teach him about pursuing fly balls and throwing out base runners. Cobb told Stump he would always remember Crawford’s kindness.

The student-teacher relationship gradually changed to one of jealous rivals. Cobb was not popular with his teammates, and as Cobb became the biggest star in baseball, Crawford was unhappy with the preferential treatment given to Cobb. Cobb was allowed to show up late for spring training and was given private quarters on the road – perks not offered to Crawford. The competition between the two was intense. Crawford recalled that, if he went three for four on a day when Cobb went hitless, Cobb would turn red and sometimes walk out of the park with the game still on. When it was initially (and erroneously) reported that Nap Lajoie had won the batting title, Crawford was alleged to have been one of several Tigers who sent a telegram to Lajoie congratulating him on beating Cobb.

In retirement, Cobb wrote a letter to a writer for The Sporting News accusing Crawford of not helping in the outfield and of intentionally fouling off balls when Cobb was stealing a base. Crawford learned about the letter in 1946 and accused Cobb of being a “cheapskate” who never helped his teammates. He said that Cobb had not been a very good fielder, "so he blamed me." Crawford denied intentionally trying to deprive Cobb of stolen bases, insisting that Cobb had “dreamed that up.”

When asked about the feud, Cobb attributed it to jealousy. He felt that Crawford was “a hell of a good player,” but he was “second best” on the Tigers and “hated to be an also ran.” Cobb biographer Richard Bak noted that the two “only barely tolerated each other” and agreed with Cobb that Crawford’s attitude was driven by Cobb’s having stolen Crawford’s thunder.

Although they may not have spoken to each other, Cobb and Crawford developed an uncanny ability to communicate nonverbally with looks and nods on the base paths. They became one of the most successful double steal pairings in baseball history.

After Cobb died, a reporter found hundreds of letters in Cobb’s home that Cobb had written to influential people lobbying for Crawford’s induction into the Hall of Fame. Crawford was reportedly unaware of Cobb’s efforts until after Cobb had died. Crawford was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1957, four years before Cobb's death.

Regular season statistics

Both official sources, such as Total Baseball, and a number of independent researchers, including John Thorn, have raised questions about Cobb's exact career totals. Hits have been re-estimated at between 4,189 and 4,192, due to a possible double-counted game in 1910. At-bats estimates have ranged as high as 11,437. The numbers shown below are the figures officially recognized on MLB.com.

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG TB SH HBP

3,035 11,429 2,245 4,191 723 297 117 1,938 892 --- 1,249 357 .367 .433 .513 5,859 295 94

The figures on Baseball-Reference.com are as follows. Other private research sites may have different figures. Caught Stealing is not shown comprehensively for Cobb's MLB.com totals, because the stat was not regularly captured until 1920.

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG TB SH HBP

3,035 11,434 2,246 4,189 724 295 117 1,937 892 178 1,249 357 .366 .433 .512 5,854 295 94


Tyrus Raymond Cobb, nicknamed The Georgia Peach, was an American Major League Baseball (MLB) outfielder. He was born in rural Narrows, Georgia. Cobb spent 22 seasons with the Detroit Tigers, the last six as the team's player-manager, and finished his career with the Philadelphia Athletics. In 1936 Cobb received the most votes of any player on the inaugural Baseball Hall of Fame ballot, receiving 222 out of a possible 226 votes (98.2%); no other player received a higher percentage of votes until Tom Seaver in 1992. In 1999, editors at the Sporting News ranked Ty Cobb 3rd on their list of "Baseball's 100 Greatest Players".

Cobb is widely credited with setting 90 MLB records during his career. His combined total of 4,065 runs scored and runs batted in (after adjusting for home runs) is still the highest ever produced by any major league player. He still holds several records as of the end of the 2016 season, including the highest career batting average (.366 or .367, depending on source) and most career batting titles with 11 (or 12, depending on source). He retained many other records for almost a half century or more, including most career hits until 1985 (4,189 or 4,191, depending on source), most career runs (2,245 or 2,246 depending on source) until 2001, most career games played (3,035) and at bats (11,429 or 11,434 depending on source) until 1974, and the modern record for most career stolen bases (892) until 1977. He still holds the career record for stealing home (54 times) and for stealing second base, third base, and home in succession (5 times), and as the youngest player ever to compile 4,000 hits and score 2,000 runs. Cobb ranks fifth all-time in number of games played and committed 271 errors, the most by any American League (AL) outfielder.

Cobb's legacy, which includes a large college scholarship fund for Georgia residents financed by his early investments in Coca-Cola and General Motors, has been tarnished by allegations of racism and violence, largely stemming from a couple of largely discredited biographies that were released following his death. Cobb's reputation as an extremely violent man was fanned by his first biographer, sportswriter Al Stump, whose stories about Cobb have been discredited as sensationalized, and in some part proven to be entirely fictional, while Cobb's views on race evolved and mellowed after his retirement from baseball.

Cobb was born in 1886 in Narrows, Georgia, a small rural community of farmers that was not an official city or village at the time. He was the first of three children born to William Herschel Cobb (1863–1905) and Amanda Chitwood Cobb (1871–1936). Cobb's father was a state senator.

When he was still an infant, his parents moved to nearby Royston, where he was raised. By most accounts, he became fascinated with baseball as a child, and decided he wanted to play professional ball one day; his father was vehemently opposed to this idea, but by his teen years, he was trying out for area teams. He played his first years in organized baseball for the Royston Rompers, the semi-pro Royston Reds, and the Augusta Tourists of the South Atlantic League who released him after only two days. He then tried out for the Anniston Steelers of the semipro Tennessee–Alabama League, with his father's stern admonition ringing in his ears: "Don't come home a failure!" After joining the Steelers for a monthly salary of $50, Cobb promoted himself by sending several postcards written about his talents under different aliases to Grantland Rice, the sports editor of the Atlanta Journal. Eventually, Rice wrote a small note in the Journal that a "young fellow named Cobb seems to be showing an unusual lot of talent." After about three months, Cobb returned to the Tourists and finished the season hitting .237 in 35 games. In August 1905, the management of the Tourists sold Cobb to the American League's Detroit Tigers for US$750 (equivalent to approximately $19,992 in today's funds).

On August 8, 1905, Cobb's mother fatally shot his father with a pistol that his father had purchased for her. Court records indicate that Mr. Cobb had suspected his wife of infidelity and was sneaking past his own bedroom window to catch her in the act. She saw the silhouette of what she presumed to be an intruder and, acting in self-defense, shot and killed her husband. Mrs. Cobb was charged with murder and then released on a $7,000 recognizance bond. She was acquitted on March 31, 1906. Cobb later attributed his ferocious play to his late father, saying, "I did it for my father. He never got to see me play... but I knew he was watching me, and I never let him down."

In 1911, Cobb moved to Detroit's architecturally significant and now historically protected Woodbridge neighborhood, from which he would walk with his dogs to the ballpark prior to games. The Victorian duplex in which Cobb lived still stands.

Three weeks after his mother killed his father, Cobb debuted in center field for the Detroit Tigers. On August 30, 1905, in his first major league at bat, he doubled off of Jack Chesbro of the New York Highlanders. Chesbro had won a record 41 games the previous season. Cobb was 18 years old at the time, the youngest player in the league by almost a year. Although he hit .240 in 41 games, he signed a lucrative $1,500 contract from the Tigers for 1906.

Although rookie hazing was customary, Cobb could not endure it in good humor and soon became alienated from his teammates. He later attributed his hostile temperament to this experience: "These old-timers turned me into a snarling wildcat." Tigers manager Hughie Jennings later acknowledged that Cobb was targeted for abuse by veteran players, some of whom sought to force him off the team. "I let this go for a while because I wanted to satisfy myself that Cobb has as much guts as I thought in the very beginning", Jennings recalled. "Well, he proved it to me, and I told the other players to let him alone. He is going to be a great baseball player and I won't allow him to be driven off this club."

The following year, 1906, Cobb became the Tigers' full-time center fielder and hit .316 in 98 games, setting a record for the highest batting average (minimum 310 plate appearances) for a 19-year-old (later bested by Mel Ott's .322 average in 124 games for the 1928 New York Giants). He never hit below that mark again. After being moved to right field, he led the Tigers to three consecutive American League pennants in 1907, 1908 & 1909. Detroit would lose each World Series (to the Cubs twice and then the Pirates), however, with Cobb's postseason numbers much below his career standard. Cobb did not get another opportunity to play on a pennant-winning team.

In 1907, Cobb reached first and then stole second, third and home. He accomplished the feat four more times during his career. He finished the 1907 season with a league-leading .350 batting average, 212 hits, 49 steals and 119 runs batted in (RBI). At age 20, he was the youngest player to win a batting championship and held this record until 1955, when fellow Detroit Tiger Al Kaline won the batting title twelve days younger than Cobb when he did it. Reflecting on his career in 1930, two years after retiring, he told Grantland Rice, "The biggest thrill I ever got came in a game against the Athletics in 1907 [on September 30]... The Athletics had us beaten, with Rube Waddell pitching. They were two runs ahead in the 9th inning, when I happened to hit a home run that tied the score. This game went 17 innings to a tie, and a few days later, we clinched our first pennant. You can understand what it meant for a 20-year-old country boy to hit a home run off the great Rube, in a pennant-winning game with two outs in the ninth."

Despite great success on the field, Cobb was no stranger to controversy off it. As described in Smithsonian Magazine, "In 1907 during spring training in Augusta, Georgia, a black groundskeeper named Bungy Cummings, whom Cobb had known for years, attempted to shake Cobb's hand or pat him on the shoulder." The "overly familiar greeting infuriated" Cobb, who attacked Cummings. When Cummings' wife tried to defend him, Cobb allegedly choked her. The assault was only stopped when catcher Charles "Boss" Schmidt knocked Cobb out. However, aside from Schmidt's statement to the press, no other corroborating witnesses to the assault on Cummings ever came forward and Cummings himself never made a public comment about it. Author Charles Leerhsen speculates that the assault on Cummings and his wife never occurred and that Schmidt likely made it up completely. Cobb had spent the previous year defending himself on several occasions from assaults by Schmidt, with Schmidt often coming out of nowhere to blindside Cobb. On that day, several reporters did see Cummings, who appeared to be "partially under the influence of liquor", approach Cobb and shout "Hello, Carrie!" (the meaning of which is unknown) and go in for a hug. Cobb then pushed him away, which was the last interaction that anyone saw between Cobb and Cummings. Shortly thereafter, hearing a fight, several reporters came running and found Cobb and Schmidt wrestling on the ground. When the fight was broken up and Cobb had walked away, Schmidt remained behind and told the reporters that he saw Cobb assaulting Cummings and his wife and had intervened. Leerhsen speculates that this was just another one of Schmidt's assaults on Cobb and that once discovered, Schmidt made up a story that made him sound like he had assaulted Cobb for a noble purpose. In 1908, Cobb attacked a black laborer in Detroit who complained when Cobb stepped into freshly poured asphalt; Cobb was found guilty of battery but the sentence was suspended.

In September 1907, Cobb began a relationship with The Coca-Cola Company that lasted the remainder of his life. By the time he died, he held over 20,000 shares of stock and owned bottling plants in Santa Maria, California, Twin Falls, Idaho, and Bend, Oregon. He was also a celebrity spokesman for the product. In the offseason between 1907 and 1908, Cobb negotiated with Clemson Agricultural College of South Carolina, offering to coach baseball there "for $250 a month, provided that he did not sign with Detroit that season." This did not come to pass, however.

The following season, the Tigers finished ahead of the Chicago White Sox for the pennant. Cobb again won the batting title with a .324 average, but Detroit suffered another loss in the World Series. In August 1908, Cobb married Charlotte ("Charlie") Marion Lombard, the daughter of prominent Augustan Roswell Lombard. In the offseason, the couple lived on her father's Augusta estate, The Oaks, until they moved into their own house on Williams Street in November 1913.

The Tigers won the AL pennant again in 1909. During that World Series, Cobb's last, he stole home in the second game, igniting a three-run rally, but that was the high point for him, finishing with a lowly .231, as the Tigers lost to Honus Wagner and the powerful Pirates in seven games. Although he performed poorly in the postseason, he won the Triple Crown by hitting .377 with 107 RBI and nine home runs, all inside the park, thus becoming the only player of the modern era to lead his league in home runs in a season without hitting a ball over the fence.

In the same season, Charles M. Conlon snapped the famous photograph of a grimacing Cobb sliding into third base amid a cloud of dirt, which visually captured the grit and ferocity of his playing style.

Going into the final days of the 1910 season, Cobb had a .004 lead on Nap Lajoie for the American League batting title. The prize for the winner of the title was a Chalmers automobile. Cobb sat out the final games to preserve his average. Lajoie hit safely eight times in a doubleheader, but six of those hits were bunt singles. Later it was rumored that the opposing manager had instructed his third baseman to play extra deep to allow Lajoie to win the batting race over the generally disliked Cobb. Although Cobb was credited with a higher batting average, it was later discovered that one game had been counted twice so that Cobb actually lost to Lajoie.

As a result of the incident, AL president Ban Johnson was forced to arbitrate the situation. He declared Cobb the rightful owner of the title, but car company president Hugh Chalmers chose to award one to both Cobb and Lajoie.

Cobb regarded baseball as "something like a war", future Tiger second baseman Charlie Gehringer said. "Every time at bat for him was a crusade." Baseball historian John Thorn said in the book "Legends of the Fall", "He is testament to how far you can get simply through will... Cobb was pursued by demons."

Cobb was having a tremendous year in 1911, which included a 40-game hitting streak. Still, "Shoeless" Joe Jackson led him by .009 points in the batting race late in the season. Near the end of the season, Cobb's Tigers had a long series against Jackson's Cleveland Naps. Fellow Southerners Cobb and Jackson were personally friendly both on and off the field. Cobb used that friendship to his advantage. Cobb ignored Jackson when Jackson tried to say anything to him. When Jackson persisted, Cobb snapped angrily back at him, making him wonder what he could have done to enrage Cobb. Cobb felt that it was these mind games that caused Jackson to "fall off" to a final average of .408, twelve points lower than Cobb's .420, a twentieth-century record which stood until George Sisler tied it and Rogers Hornsby surpassed it with .424, the record since then except for Hugh Duffy's .438 in the nineteenth century.

"I often tried plays that looked recklessly daring, maybe even silly. But I never tried anything foolish when a game was at stake, only when we were far ahead or far behind. I did it to study how the other team reacted, filing away in my mind any observations for future use." —Ty Cobb in The New York Times Cobb led the AL that year in numerous other categories, including 248 hits, 147 runs scored, 127 RBI, 83 stolen bases, 47 doubles, 24 triples and a .621 slugging percentage. Cobb hit eight home runs but finished second in that category to Frank Baker, who hit eleven. He was awarded another Chalmers car, this time for being voted the AL MVP by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

On May 12, 1911, Cobb's play illustrated his combination of skill and cunning. Playing against the New York Highlanders, he scored from first base on a single to right field, then scored another run from second base on a wild pitch. In the seventh inning, he tied the game with a two-run double. The Highlanders catcher vehemently argued the safe call at second base with the umpire in question, going on at such length that the other Highlanders infielders gathered nearby to watch. Realizing that no one on the Highlanders had called time, Cobb strolled unobserved to third base, and then casually walked towards home plate as if to get a better view of the argument. He then suddenly broke into a run and slid into home plate for the eventual winning run. It was performances like this that led Branch Rickey to say later that Cobb "had brains in his feet."

Describing his gameplay strategy in 1930, he said, "My system was all offense. I believed in putting up a mental hazard for the other fellow. If we were five or six runs ahead, I'd try some wild play, such as going from first to home on a single. This helped to make the other side hurry the play in a close game later on. I worked out all the angles I could think of, to keep them guessing and hurrying." In the same interview, Cobb talked about having noticed a throwing tendency of first baseman Hal Chase, but having to wait two full years until the opportunity came to exploit it. By unexpectedly altering his own baserunning tendencies, he was able to surprise Chase and score the winning run of the game in question.

On May 15, 1912, Cobb assaulted a heckler, Claude Lucker (often misspelled as Lueker), in the stands in New York's Hilltop Park where his Tigers were playing the Highlanders (now the Yankees). Lucker and Cobb had traded insults with each other through the first couple of innings. Cobb at one point went to the Highlander dugout to look for the Highlander's owner to try to have Lucker ejected from the game, but his search was in vain. The situation finally climaxed when Lucker allegedly called Cobb a "half-nigger." Cobb, in his discussion of the incident in the Holmes biography, avoided such explicit words but alluded to Lucker's epithet by saying he was "reflecting on my mother's color and morals." He went on to state that he warned Highlander manager Harry Wolverton that if something wasn't done about that man, there would be trouble. No action was taken. At the end of the sixth inning, after being challenged by teammates Sam Crawford and Jim Delahanty to do something about it, Cobb climbed into the stands and attacked Lucker, who it turned out was handicapped (he had lost all of one hand and three fingers on his other hand in an industrial accident). When onlookers shouted at him to stop because the man had no hands, he reportedly retorted, "I don't care if he got no feet!" Though such an incident seems outrageous in the 21st century, attacking fans was not so unusual an activity in the early years of baseball. Other notable baseball stars who assaulted heckling fans include Babe Ruth, Cy Young, Rube Waddell, Kid Gleason, Sherry Magee, and Fred Clarke.

The league suspended him, and his teammates, though not fond of Cobb, went on strike to protest the suspension, and the lack of protection of players from abusive fans, before the May 18 game in Philadelphia. For that one game, Detroit fielded a replacement team made up of hastily recruited college and sandlot players plus two Tiger coaches and (not surprisingly) lost, 24–2, thereby setting some of Major League Baseball's modern-era (post-1900) negative records, notably the 26 hits in a nine-inning game allowed by Allan Travers, who pitched one of the sport's most unlikely complete games. The pre-1901 record for the most hits and runs given up in a game is held by the Cleveland Blues' Dave Rowe. Primarily an outfielder, Rowe pitched a complete game on July 24, 1882, giving up 35 runs on 29 hits.[66] The current post-1900 record for most hits in a nine-inning game is 31, set in 1992 by the Milwaukee Brewers against Toronto; however, the Blue Jays used six pitchers.

The strike ended when Cobb urged his teammates to return to the field. According to him, this incident led to the formation of a players' union, the "Ballplayers' Fraternity" (formally, the Fraternity of Professional Baseball Players of America), an early version of what is now called the Major League Baseball Players Association, which garnered some concessions from the owners.

Cobb, during his career, was involved in numerous other fights, both on and off the field, and several profanity-laced shouting matches. For example, Cobb and umpire Billy Evans arranged to settle their in-game differences through fisticuffs under the grandstand after the game. Members of both teams were spectators, and broke up the scuffle after Cobb had knocked Evans down, pinned him and began choking him. In 1909, Cobb was arrested for assault for an incident that occurred in a Cleveland hotel. Cobb got into an argument with the elevator operator around 2:15 a.m. when the man refused to take him to the floor where some of his teammates were having a card game. The elevator operator stated that he could only take Cobb to the floor where his room was. As the argument escalated, a night watchman approached and he and Cobb eventually got into a physical confrontation. During the fight, Cobb produced a pen knife and slashed the watchman across the hand. Cobb later claimed that the watchman, who had the upper hand in the fight, had his finger in Cobb's left eye and that Cobb was worried he was going to have his sight ruined. The fight finally ended when the watchman produced a gun and struck Cobb several times in the head, knocking him out. Cobb would later plead guilty to simple assault and pay a $100 fine. This incident has often been retold with the elevator operator and the watchman both being black. However, recent scholarship has shown that all parties involved were white.

In 1915, Cobb set the single-season record for stolen bases with 96, which stood until Dodger Maury Wills broke it in 1962. That year, he also won his ninth consecutive batting title, hitting .369.

In 1917, Cobb hit in 35 consecutive games, still the only player with two 35-game hitting streaks (including his 40-game streak in 1911). He had six hitting streaks of at least 20 games in his career, second only to Pete Rose's seven.

Also in 1917, Cobb starred in the motion picture Somewhere in Georgia for a sum of $25,000 plus expenses (equivalent to approximately $467,338 today). Based on a story by sports columnist Grantland Rice, the film casts Cobb as "himself", a small-town Georgian bank clerk with a talent for baseball. Broadway critic Ward Morehouse called the movie "absolutely the worst flicker I ever saw, pure hokum."

In October 1918, Cobb enlisted in the Chemical Corps branch of the United States Army and was sent to the Allied Expeditionary Forces headquarters in Chaumont, France. He served approximately 67 days overseas before receiving an honorable discharge and returning to the United States. He was given the rank of captain underneath the command of Major Branch Rickey, the president of the St. Louis Cardinals. Other baseball players serving in this unit included Captain Christy Mathewson and Lieutenant George Sisler. All of these men were assigned to the Gas and Flame Division, where they trained soldiers in preparation for chemical attacks by exposing them to gas chambers in a controlled environment, which was eventually responsible for Mathewson's contracting tuberculosis which led to his premature death on the eve of the 1925 World Series.

On August 19, 1921, in the second game of a doubleheader against Elmer Myers of the Boston Red Sox, Cobb collected his 3,000th hit. Aged 34 at the time, he is still the youngest ballplayer to reach that milestone, and in the fewest at-bats (8,093).

By 1920, Babe Ruth, newly sold to the newly named New York Yankees from the Boston Red Sox, had established himself as a power hitter, something Cobb was not considered to be. When his Tigers showed up in New York to play the Yankees for the first time that season, writers billed it as a showdown between two stars of competing styles of play. Ruth hit two homers and a triple during the series, compared to Cobb's one single.

As Ruth's popularity grew, Cobb became increasingly hostile toward him. He saw the Babe not only as a threat to his style of play, but also to his style of life. While Cobb preached ascetic self-denial, Ruth gorged on hot dogs, beer and women. Perhaps what angered him the most about Ruth was that despite Babe's total disregard for his physical condition and traditional baseball, he was still an overwhelming success and brought fans to the ballparks in record numbers to see him challenge his own slugging records.

After enduring several years of seeing his fame and notoriety usurped by Ruth, Cobb decided that he was going to show that swinging for the fences was no challenge for a top hitter. On May 5, 1925, he began a two-game hitting spree better than any even Ruth had unleashed. Sitting in the Tiger dugout, he told a reporter that, for the first time in his career, he was going to swing for the fences. That day, he went 6 for 6, with two singles, a double and three home runs. The 16 total bases set a new AL record, which stood until May 8, 2012 when Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers hit four home runs and a double for a total of 18 bases. The next day he had three more hits, two of which were home runs. The single his first time up gave him nine consecutive hits over three games. His five homers in two games tied the record set by Cap Anson of the old Chicago NL team in 1884. Cobb wanted to show that he could hit home runs when he wanted, but simply chose not to do so. At the end of the series, the 38-year-old veteran superstar had gone 12 for 19 with 29 total bases and then went happily back to his usual bunting and hitting-and-running. For his part, Ruth's attitude was that "I could have had a lifetime .600 average, but I would have had to hit them singles. The people were paying to see me hit home runs." Even so, when asked in 1930 by Grantland Rice to name the best hitter he'd ever seen, Cobb answered, "You can't beat the Babe. Ruth is one of the few who can take a terrific swing and still meet the ball solidly. His timing is perfect. [No one has] the combined power and eye of Ruth."

Tiger owner Frank Navin tapped Cobb to take over for Hughie Jennings as manager for the 1921 season, a deal he signed on his 34th birthday for $32,500 (equivalent to approximately $436,385 in today's funds). The signing surprised the baseball world. Although Cobb was a legendary player, he was disliked throughout the baseball community, even by his own teammates; and he expected as much from his players since he set a standard most players couldn't meet.

The closest Cobb came to winning another pennant was in 1924, when the Tigers finished in third place, six games behind the pennant-winning Washington Senators. The Tigers had also finished third in 1922, but 16 games behind the Yankees. Cobb blamed his lackluster managerial record (479 wins against 444 losses) on Navin, who was arguably even more frugal than he was, passing up a number of quality players Cobb wanted to add to the team. In fact, he had saved money by hiring Cobb to both play and manage.

In 1922, Cobb tied a batting record set by Wee Willie Keeler, with four five-hit games in a season. This has since been matched by Stan Musial, Tony Gwynn and Ichiro Suzuki. On May 10, 1924, Cobb was honored at ceremonies before a game in Washington, D.C., by more than 100 dignitaries and legislators. He received 21 books, one for each year in professional baseball.

At the end of 1925 Cobb was once again embroiled in a batting title race, this time with one of his teammates and players, Harry Heilmann. In a doubleheader against the St. Louis Browns on October 4, 1925, Heilmann got six hits to lead the Tigers to a sweep of the doubleheader and beat Cobb for the batting crown, .393 to .389. Cobb and Brownie player-manager George Sisler each pitched in the final game, Cobb pitching a perfect inning.

Cobb announced his retirement after a 22-year career as a Tiger in November 1926, and headed home to Augusta, Georgia. Shortly thereafter, Tris Speaker also retired as player-manager of the Cleveland Indians. The retirement of two great players at the same time sparked some interest, and it turned out that the two were coerced into retirement because of allegations of game-fixing brought about by Dutch Leonard, a former pitcher managed by Cobb.

Leonard accused former pitcher and outfielder Smoky Joe Wood and Cobb of betting on a Tiger-Indian game played in Detroit on September 25, 1919, in which they allegedly orchestrated a Tiger victory to win the bet. Leonard claimed proof existed in letters written to him by Cobb and Wood. Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis held a secret hearing with Cobb, Speaker and Wood. A second secret meeting among the AL directors led to the unpublicized resignations of Cobb and Speaker; however, rumors of the scandal led Judge Landis to hold additional hearings in which Leonard subsequently refused to participate. Cobb and Wood admitted to writing the letters, but claimed that a horse-racing bet was involved and that Leonard's accusations were in retaliation for Cobb's having released him from the Tigers, thereby demoting him to the minor leagues. Speaker denied any wrongdoing.

On January 27, 1927, Judge Landis cleared Cobb and Speaker of any wrongdoing because of Leonard's refusal to appear at the hearings. Landis allowed both Cobb and Speaker to return to their original teams, but each team let them know that they were free agents and could sign with any club they wanted. Speaker signed with the Washington Senators for 1927, and Cobb with the Philadelphia Athletics. Speaker then joined Cobb in Philadelphia for the 1928 season. Cobb said he had come back only to seek vindication and say he left baseball on his own terms.

Cobb played regularly in 1927 for a young and talented team that finished second to one of the greatest teams of all time, the 110–44 1927 Yankees, returning to Detroit to a tumultuous welcome on May 11 and doubling his time up to the cheers of Tiger fans. On July 18, Cobb became the first member of the 4000 hit club when he doubled off former teammate Sam Gibson, still pitching for the Tigers, at Navin Field.

1927 was also the final season of Washington Senators pitcher Walter Johnson's career. With their careers largely overlapping, Cobb faced Johnson more times than any other batter-pitcher matchup in baseball history. Cobb also got the first hit ever allowed by Johnson. After Johnson hit Detroit's Ossie Vitt with a pitch in August 1915, seriously injuring him, Cobb realized that Johnson was fearful of hitting opponents. He used this knowledge to his advantage by standing closer to the plate.

Cobb returned for the 1928 season, but played less frequently due to his age and the blossoming abilities of the young A's, who were again in a pennant race with the Yankees. On September 3, Ty Cobb pinch-hit in the ninth inning of the first game of a doubleheader against the Senators and doubled off Bump Hadley for his last career hit although his last at-bat wasn't until September 11 against the Yankees, popping out off Hank Johnson and grounding out to shortstop Mark Koenig. He then announced his retirement, effective the end of the season, after batting .300 or higher in 23 consecutive seasons (the only season under .300 being his rookie season), a major league record not likely to be broken.

He also ended his career with a rather dubious record. When Cobb retired, he led AL outfielders for most errors all-time with 271, which still stands today. Nineteenth-century player Tom Brown holds the major league record with 490 errors committed as an outfielder, while the National League record is held by nineteenth-century player George Gore with 346 errors. Cobb ranks 14th on the all-time list for errors committed by an outfielder.

Cobb retired a very rich and successful man. He toured Europe with his family, went to Scotland for some time and then returned to his farm in Georgia. He spent his retirement pursuing his off-season avocations of hunting, golfing, polo and fishing. His other pastime was trading stocks and bonds, increasing his immense personal wealth. He was a major stockholder in the Coca-Cola Corporation, which by itself would have made him wealthy.

In the winter of 1930, Cobb moved into a Spanish ranch estate on Spencer Lane in the affluent town of Atherton located south of San Francisco, California on the San Francisco Peninsula. At the same time, his wife Charlie filed the first of several divorce suits; but withdrew the suit shortly thereafter. The couple eventually divorced in 1947 after 39 years of marriage; the last few years of which Mrs. Cobb lived in nearby Menlo Park. The couple had three sons and two daughters: Tyrus Raymond Jr, Shirley Marion, Herschel Roswell, James Howell and Beverly.

Cobb never had an easy time as husband and father. His children found him to be demanding, yet also capable of kindness and extreme warmth. He expected his sons to be exceptional athletes in general and baseball players in particular. Tyrus Raymond, Jr. flunked out of Princeton (where he had played on the varsity tennis team), much to his father's dismay. The elder Cobb subsequently traveled to the Princeton campus and beat his son with a whip to ensure against future academic failure. Tyrus Raymond, Jr. then entered Yale University and became captain of the tennis team while improving his academics, but was then arrested twice in 1930 for drunkenness and left Yale without graduating. Cobb helped his son deal with his pending legal problems, but then permanently broke off with him.[ Even though Tyrus Raymond, Jr. finally reformed and eventually earned an M.D. from the Medical College of South Carolina and practiced obstetrics and gynecology in Dublin, Georgia, until his premature death at 42 on September 9, 1952, from a brain tumor, his father remained distant.

In February 1936, when the first Hall of Fame election results were announced, Cobb had been named on 222 of 226 ballots, outdistancing Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson, the only others to earn the necessary 75% of votes to be elected that first year. His 98.2 percentage stood as the record until Tom Seaver received 98.8% of the vote in 1992. Those incredible results show that although many people disliked him personally, they respected the way he had played and what he had accomplished. In 1998, Sporting News ranked him as third on the list of 100 Greatest Baseball Players.

By the time he was elected to the Hall of Fame, Cobb had become a heavy smoker and drinker, and he spent a great deal of time complaining about modern-day players' lack of fundamental skills. He had positive things to say about Stan Musial, Phil Rizzuto and Jackie Robinson, but few others. Even so, he was known to help out young players. He was instrumental in helping Joe DiMaggio negotiate his rookie contract with the New York Yankees.

Cobb's competitive fires continued to burn after retirement. In 1941, he faced Babe Ruth in a series of charity golf matches at courses outside New York, Boston and Detroit and won two out of three. At the 1947 Old-Timers' Day game in Yankee Stadium, he warned catcher Benny Bengough to move back, claiming he was rusty and hadn't swung a bat in almost 20 years. Bengough accordingly stepped back to avoid being struck by Cobb's backswing. Having repositioned the catcher, Cobb cannily laid down a perfect bunt in front of the plate and easily beat the throw from a surprised Bengough.

Another bittersweet moment in Cobb's life reportedly came in the late 1940s, when he and sportswriter Grantland Rice were returning from the Masters golf tournament. Stopping at a Greenville, South Carolina, liquor store, Cobb noticed that the man behind the counter was none other than "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, who had been banned from baseball almost 30 years earlier following the Black Sox scandal. But Jackson did not appear to recognize him, and after making his purchase an incredulous Cobb asked, "Don't you know me, Joe?" "I know you", replied Jackson, "but I wasn't sure you wanted to speak to me. A lot of them don't."

At the age of 62, Cobb married a second time in 1949. His new wife was 40-year-old Frances Fairbairn Cass, a divorcee from Buffalo, New York. Their childless marriage also failed, ending with a divorce in 1956. At this time, Cobb became generous with his wealth, donating $100,000 in his parents' name for his hometown to build a modern 24-bed hospital, Cobb Memorial Hospital, which is now part of the Ty Cobb Healthcare System. He also established the Cobb Educational Fund, which awarded scholarships to needy Georgia students bound for college, by endowing it with a $100,000 donation in 1953 (equivalent to approximately $895,149 in current year dollars).

He knew that another way he could share his wealth was by having biographies written that would both set the record straight on him and teach young players how to play. John McCallum spent some time with Cobb to write a combination how-to and biography titled The Tiger Wore Spikes: An Informal Biography of Ty Cobb that was published in 1956. In December 1959, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and Bright's disease.

It was also during his final years that Cobb began work on his autobiography, My Life in Baseball: The True Record, with writer Al Stump. Later Stump would claim the collaboration was contentious, and after Cobb's death Stump published two more books and a short story giving what he claimed was the "true story." One of these later books was used as the basis for the 1994 film Cobb (a box office flop starring Tommy Lee Jones as Cobb and directed by Ron Shelton). In 2010, an article by William R. "Ron" Cobb (no relation to Ty) in the peer-reviewed The National Pastime (the official publication of the Society for American Baseball Research) accused Stump of extensive forgeries of Cobb-related documents and diaries. The article further accused Stump of numerous false statements about Cobb in his last years, most of which were sensationalistic in nature and intended to cast Cobb in an unflattering light.

In his last days, Cobb spent some time with the old movie comedian Joe E. Brown, talking about the choices he had made in his life. He told Brown that he felt that he had made mistakes and that he would do things differently if he could. He had played hard and lived hard all his life, had no friends to show for it at the end, and regretted it. Publicly, however, he claimed to have no regrets: "I've been lucky. I have no right to be regretful of what I did."

He checked into Emory Hospital for the last time in June 1961. His first wife, Charlie, his son Jimmy and other family members came to be with him for his final days. He died a month later, on July 17, 1961, at Emory University Hospital.

"...the most sensational player of all the players I have seen in all my life..." —Casey Stengel, The New York Times, July 18, 1961 regarding Ty Cobb shortly after Cobb's death Approximately 150 friends and relatives attended a brief service in Cornelia, Georgia, and drove to the Cobb family mausoleum in Royston for the burial. Baseball's only representatives at his funeral were three old-time players, Ray Schalk, Mickey Cochrane and Nap Rucker, along with Sid Keener, the director of the Baseball Hall of Fame, but messages of condolences numbered in the hundreds. Family in attendance included Cobb's former wife Charlie, his two daughters, his surviving son Jimmy, his two sons-in-law, his daughter-in-law Mary Dunn Cobb and her two children.

At the time of his death, Cobb's estate was reported to be worth at least $11.78 million (equivalent to $94.4 million today), including $10 million worth of General Motors stock and $1.78 million in The Coca-Cola Company stock. His will left a quarter of his estate to the Cobb Educational Fund, and distributed the rest among his children and grandchildren. Cobb is interred in the Rose Hill Cemetery in Royston, Georgia. As of July 2015, the Ty Cobb Educational Foundation has distributed $15.8 million in college scholarships to needy Georgians.

Ty Cobb was honored alongside the retired numbers of the Detroit Tigers in 2000.

"The greatness of Ty Cobb was something that had to be seen, and to see him was to remember him forever." —George Sisler He is regarded by some historians and journalists as the best player of the dead-ball era, and is generally seen as one of the greatest players of all time.

Efforts to create a Ty Cobb Memorial in Royston initially failed, primarily because most of the artifacts from his life were sent to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York and the Georgia town was viewed as too remote to make a memorial worthwhile. But ultimately, on July 17, 1998, the 37th anniversary of Cobb's death, the Ty Cobb Museum and the Franklin County Sports Hall of Fame opened its doors in Royston. On that day, Cobb was one of the first members to be inducted into the Franklin County Sports Hall of Fame.

On August 30, 2005, his hometown hosted a 1905 baseball game to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Cobb's first major league game. Players in the game included many of Cobb's descendants as well as many citizens from his hometown of Royston. Another early-20th-century baseball game was played in his hometown at Cobb Field on September 30, 2006, with Cobb's descendants and Roystonians again playing. Cobb's personal batboy from his major league years was also in attendance, and threw out the first pitch.

In addition to the aforementioned film, Ty Cobb's legacy also includes legions of collectors of his early tobacco card issues, as well as game used memorabilia and autographs. Perhaps the most curious item is a 1909 Ty Cobb Cigarettes pack, leaving some to believe Cobb either had, or attempted to have, his own brand of cigarettes. Very little about the card is known other than its similarity to the 1909 T206 Red Portrait card published by the American Tobacco Company, and until 2005 only a handful were known to exist. That year, a sizable cache of the cards was brought to auction by the family of a Royston, Georgia, man who had stored them in a book for almost 100 years.

Sam Crawford and Ty Cobb were teammates for parts of thirteen seasons. They played beside each other in right and center field, and Crawford followed Cobb in the batting order year after year. Despite the physical closeness, the two had a complicated relationship.

Initially, they had a student-teacher relationship. Crawford was an established star when Cobb arrived, and Cobb eagerly sought his advice. In interviews with Al Stump, Cobb told of studying Crawford's base stealing technique and of how Crawford would teach him about pursuing fly balls and throwing out base runners. Cobb told Stump he would always remember Crawford's kindness.

The student-teacher relationship gradually changed to one of jealous rivals. Cobb was not popular with his teammates, and as Cobb became the biggest star in baseball, Crawford was unhappy with the preferential treatment given to Cobb. Cobb was allowed to show up late for spring training and was given private quarters on the road – perks not offered to Crawford. The competition between the two was intense. Crawford recalled that, if he went three for four on a day when Cobb went hitless, Cobb would turn red and sometimes walk out of the park with the game still on. When it was reported that Nap Lajoie had won the batting title, Crawford was alleged to have been one of several Tigers who sent a telegram to Lajoie congratulating him on beating Cobb.

In retirement, Cobb wrote a letter to a writer for The Sporting News accusing Crawford of not helping in the outfield and of intentionally fouling off balls when Cobb was stealing a base. Crawford learned about the letter in 1946 and accused Cobb of being a "cheapskate" who never helped his teammates. He said that Cobb had not been a very good fielder, "so he blamed me." Crawford denied intentionally trying to deprive Cobb of stolen bases, insisting that Cobb had "dreamed that up." When asked about the feud, Cobb attributed it to envy. He felt that Crawford was "a hell of a good player", but he was "second best" on the Tigers and "hated to be an also ran." Cobb biographer Richard Bak noted that the two "only barely tolerated each other" and agreed with Cobb that Crawford's attitude was driven by Cobb's having stolen Crawford's thunder. Although they may not have spoken to each other, Cobb and Crawford developed an uncanny ability to communicate non-verbally with looks and nods on the base paths. They became one of the most successful double steal pairings in baseball history.

After Cobb died, a reporter found hundreds of letters in Cobb's home that Cobb had written to influential people lobbying for Crawford's induction into the Hall of Fame. Crawford was reportedly unaware of Cobb's efforts until after Cobb had died. Crawford was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1957, four years before Cobb's death.

While there are many stories centering around Cobb's alleged racial intolerance during his playing years, there are scant documented incidents of racially motivated acts.

Five years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, Cobb publicly supported blacks and whites playing baseball together, adding, "Certainly it is okay for them to play. I see no reason in the world why we shouldn't compete with colored athletes as long as they conduct themselves with politeness and gentility. Let me say also that no white man has the right to be less of a gentleman than a colored man; in my book that goes not only for baseball but in all walks of life." Using even stronger language, Cobb told the Sporting News in 1952 that "the Negro should be accepted and not grudgingly but wholeheartedly." In 1953, black newspapers cited his praise for Brooklyn Dodgers' catcher Roy Campanella, who Cobb said was "among the all-time best catchers" in baseball. Following Campanella's accident that left him paralyzed, the Dodgers staged a tribute game where tens of thousands of spectators silently held lit matches above their heads. Cobb wrote the Dodgers owner to show appreciation "for what you did for this fine man." Cobb also stated that Willie Mays was the "only player I'd pay money to see." In the obituaries that ran in the black press following Cobb's death, he was praised for "[speaking] in favor of racial freedom in baseball."

Some historians, including Wesley Fricks, Dan Holmes, and Charles Leerhsen have defended Cobb against unfair portrayals of him in popular culture since his death. A noted case is the book written by sportswriter Al Stump in the months after Cobb died in 1961. Stump was later discredited when it became known that he had stolen items belonging to Cobb and also betrayed the access Cobb gave him in his final months. As a result of the movie Cobb which starred Tommy Lee Jones, there are many myths surrounding Cobb's life, including one that he sharpened his spikes to inflict wounds to opposing players. Leerhsen's book Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty presents primary evidence in contradiction to some of the more negative charges against Cobb.

In 2013, Cobb's grandson, Herschel Cobb, published a book about his grandfather titled Heart of a Tiger, Growing Up With My Grandfather, Ty Cobb. In this book, Herschel Cobb provides an inside view of his grandfather's kindness and generosity. There is also an interesting chapter where teenager Herschel Cobb confronts Al Stump and provides a first-hand account of Stump's dishonesty.

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Ty Cobb's Timeline

1886
December 18, 1886
Narrows, Georgia, United States
1910
January 30, 1910
Age 23
Augusta, Richmond County, Georgia, United States
June 2, 1910
Age 23
Augusta, Richmond County, Georgia, United States
1916
1916
Age 29
1918
1918
Age 31
Georgia, according to 1930
1919
1919
Age 32
Georgia, according to 1920 census
1921
1921
Age 34