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Happy Birthday, Ty Cobb!

Dec 18, 2013, 9:30 AM EDT

ty cobb

Today is Ty Cobb’s 127th birthday. He doesn’t look a day over 115.

Cobb, of course, is one of the greatest hitters who ever lived. He was in the inaugural Hall of Fame class in 1936. His induction was well-deserved at that. He played for 24 years and hit over .300 in 23 of them. He had three seasons where he hit over .400, with a high of .420 in 1911.  The “Georgia Peach” hit 297 triples, scored 2,245 runs and swiped 892 bases. He was clearly one of the best players who has ever lived.

Cobb also once physically attacked a black groundskeeper during spring training when the groundskeeper attempted to shake Cobb’s hand. During the attack the groundskeeper’s wife tried to defend him and Cobb choked her until his teammates physically pried his hands off the woman’s neck. Cobb also once attacked a laborer who was angry with Cobb after the Peach walked in wet cement the laborer was laying. Cobb was convicted of battery. Later, Cobb slapped a black elevator operator for being “uppity.” When a black night watchman intervened, Cobb pulled out a knife and stabbed him.

In 1912, Cobb went into the crowd at Hilltop Park in New York City and beat a heckler senseless. The heckler was missing one hand and only had two fingers on his remaining hand. Police had to pull Cobb off the guy. He once challenged an umpire to a fight. And they actually fought — with fists — under the grandstand after the game. Cobb punched the umpire out, pinned him to the ground and began choking him.

In 1910 Cobb had a slight lead in the batting race heading into the last day of the season. He sat out that day in order to preserve his lead. That ended up being pretty complicated, though. Cobb was once accused of conspiring to fix a game in 1919. There was a big investigation and hearing, but his accuser — Dutch Leonard — refused to show up. The matter was dismissed.

Cobb was a complicated, troubled and angry guy whose troubles and anger often were played out at the ballpark, alienating teammates and affecting the game. He was also a great ballplayer. It’s perfectly acceptable and totally understandable that historians keep these traits of Cobb’s separate when assessing his baseball career, for they are two distinct parts of the man. A Hall of Fame without Ty Cobb in it would be the most ridiculous thing imaginable.

As we find ourselves in Hall of Fame season, ask yourself: if a current candidate had attacked fans and umpires, had been accused — but not proven — to have cheated the game and to have shown himself to be an awful all-around person despite his amazing baseball prowess, what kind of Hall of Fame support would he get?

I bet he wouldn’t be a first-balloter like Cobb was. I bet he wouldn’t sniff induction.

  1. StottsEra - Dec 18, 2013 at 9:37 AM

    a stand up guy!

    • southofheaven81 - Dec 18, 2013 at 10:24 AM

      At least he never did anything REALLY unforgivable, like gambling or PEDs. I’m sure he had his reasons for beating up that black guy.

      …What’s that? The black groundskeeper was just trying to shake his hand? Oh. Well…he played the game the right way!

      • anxovies - Dec 18, 2013 at 11:41 AM

        And nobody ever accused Ty Cobb of having a painting of himself as a centaur on his bedroom wall. Maybe a picture of him in a white sheet and hood, but never a centaur. Some things are just unforgivable.

      • StottsEra - Dec 18, 2013 at 3:16 PM

        yeah, i used to follow him on twitter, never saw anything racist out of his mouth there

    • fanofevilempire - Dec 18, 2013 at 3:48 PM

      he was on Santas naughty list.

  2. proudlycanadian - Dec 18, 2013 at 9:40 AM

    Happy birthday and seasons greetings to Mr. Cobb.

  3. stoutfiles - Dec 18, 2013 at 9:41 AM

    “had been accused — but not proven — to have cheated the game”

    Cobb always sharpened his cleats…if you tagged him out on a slide play you were going to get hurt, he would use them as a weapon. Everything he did, both on and off the field, was pretty horrible.

    “I bet he wouldn’t be a first-balloter like Cobb was. I bet he wouldn’t sniff induction.”

    Cobb didn’t deserve to be a first-ballot HOF; numbers aren’t everything. People don’t want to go to the Hall to see a bunch of racist, cheating jerks. I can get the history of the game anywhere, but if I go to the Hall i want to see the best players who played the game right to be honored there.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Dec 18, 2013 at 9:45 AM

      Actually, the cleat-sharpening thing is mostly thought to be urban legend. There is no documented evidence in the form of interviews, actual cleats, etc. that say he did that. Much of what is attributed to Cobb is a function of Al Stump’s writing about Cobb after Cobb died. Much of it is suspect.

      The assaults and stuff I mention here, however, are matters of documented record.

      • yahmule - Dec 18, 2013 at 10:55 AM

        What’s indisputable, sharpened cleats or not, is that he spiked a lot of guys.

      • anxovies - Dec 18, 2013 at 12:21 PM

        Some of the baseball magazines I read as a kid in the 1950s mentioned him sharpening his cleats. Also, he regularly carried a pistol during the time he played ball. I clearly remember one article back then where he claimed that a man tried to rob him on the street and he shot the robber and ripped his face with the front sights of the weapon and left him for dead. Truthfully, back then everybody thought the cleat sharpening thing was kind of cool. Ripping up somebody’s face after you shot him and leaving him for dead was a little over the top, though.

      • stoutfiles - Dec 18, 2013 at 1:37 PM

        “Mostly thought”? There is plenty proof that ALL players at that time did file their spikes, especially ones like Cobb that were aggressive baserunners. Cleats were dangerous back then. Considering how dirty Cobb was off the field, do you actually believe he didn’t use his cleats as a weapon when sliding?

      • tycobbhistorian - Dec 18, 2013 at 4:21 PM


        You attempt to make a case for the Cobb intentionally spiking other players.

        A few facts that should be considered:
        1) There is no existing cleats that are sharpened by Cobb;
        2) Most of the best players in either of the two leagues at the time, were spiked;
        3) Cobb declared, in writing and verbally, on many different occasions, that he never intentionally spiked any player;
        4) Many players and writers, including Grantland Rice, offered testimony, for publication, that they witnessed Cobb’s spike-scarred legs;
        5) Cobb was one of the fastest men in baseball and coming into the base at full speed will establish opportunity for a collision and someone – if not both – players to be spiked;
        6) The picture that you provided a link for clearly demonstrated that the catcher, Paul Kritchell, tried to block the plate and the plate is a couple feet behind him;
        7) The Rules of Major League Baseball give the “right of way” to the base runner or batter-runner. Obstruction is called on anyone who obstructs the runner from reaching a base who is not in the process of making a play on the runner. The least act of obstruction, where a player is attempting to impede the advancement of a runner, usually results in the advancement of the runner;
        8) Ty Cobb promoted baseball all of his life.
        9) Ty Cobb was a household name and this country embraced him wholeheartedly. If he was this rouge villain that everyone wants to tell others that he was, he would not have been loved so warmly as he was during his days here on earth.

      • raysfan1 - Dec 18, 2013 at 10:14 PM

        Interesting, except that Craig did not attempt to make the case the Cobb intentionally spiked anybody. He in fact said that it was urban legend.

      • yahmule - Dec 19, 2013 at 11:55 AM

        And he totally spiked guys.

    • stex52 - Dec 18, 2013 at 11:12 AM

      He played the game right. In fact, he played it better than almost anyone else ever has. Look up his stats on Bref. They are incredible.

      He was also a really bad guy. In a better world he would have spent considerable time on supervised probation, if not in the penitentiary. But he didn’t live in a better world. He lived in a time and a place and a baseball culture where such behavior could be given a pass. And we have bad guys playing in the MLB today.

      It would be cool if all the great players were Walter Johnson or Lou Gehrig or Roberto Clemente. But they weren’t. I find it very hard to draw the line on where the behavior overcomes the fact of great baseball play. Better to put him in the HOF, but note his behavior.

      • raysfan1 - Dec 18, 2013 at 11:42 AM

        …and do the same with every other player whose behavior deserves to be reviled but merit induction based upon on field production.

      • indaburg - Dec 18, 2013 at 11:48 AM

        Please define “play the game right.” I’m not trying to be a smart ass or obtuse. I’m having a personal debate between “playing the game right” vs. “playing the game at a high level.” Are they the same thing? Is it semantics? Am I being pedantic? Would someone who plays the game right sit out the last game to win a batting title? Just wondering your opinion.

      • stex52 - Dec 18, 2013 at 12:00 PM

        By “playing the game right”, I was borrowing from the note above by stoutfiles. But I would qualify 4000+ hits, a lifetime .366 BA (24 years!) and 151 WAR (Bref) as playing the game pretty right.

        In large part we get a lot of chatter (especially about the Barves) about the “right way to play.” I think that means hit the ball, catch the ball, throw the ball, run fast and score lots of runs. Sitting out a day for stats is pretty venial in my universe of sins.

        I’ll take Door #2, Alex.

      • stex52 - Dec 18, 2013 at 12:10 PM

        BTW, good morning, Indy.

    • mmeyer3387 - Dec 18, 2013 at 8:52 PM

      Clearly Cobb is controversial and a complex creature that will never be confused as a good person. But he needs to be judged as a player and person. As a confession I have no problem with someone calling Cobb a malevolent person. I personally view his Cobb’s personal life as one of distain. Truly, Ty Cobb is a paradox to where his personal life may be best described as immoral. However, Cobb’s on field numbers were beyond great; to where he clearly belongs in the Hall of Fame. Furthermore, his baseball accomplishments are still be viewed as breath taking to the point that no one can argue that Cobb wasn’t one of the paramount baseball players of all time. Is not the Hall of Fame a place where the greatest baseball players are remembered?

  4. historiophiliac - Dec 18, 2013 at 9:43 AM

    First of all, I hate these “it’s so-and-so’s 100+ birthday” commemorations that have become popular lately. It is NOT his 127th birthday. He is dead…and FYI, it was something else before it was his birthday. Count anniversaries of his death if you want, but you cease with the birthdays when you die — BECAUSE THEY MARK HOW LONG YOU’VE BEEN ALIVE!

    Secondly: BRING BACK THE BASEBALL TURTLENECK! That’s a look I can endorse. And, no crappy dickies either. Full-on t-necks, thank you.

    Thirdly, if MLB, the Tigers, and law enforcement had held Cobb accountable for his off-the-field actions as they ought to have, we wouldn’t have this conversation. Of course, we tolerate less violence and illegal activity today than they did back then generally. Show me the Pretty Boy Floyds and Bonnie & Clydes of today. And, that’s not even touching the racial aspect. (*cough* Michael Vick *cough*)

    • skids003 - Dec 18, 2013 at 10:32 AM

      Wow! I’ve never seen you get this many thumbs down, histrio.

      • historiophiliac - Dec 18, 2013 at 10:54 AM

        You must be kidding. I get tons of them all the time. In this case, they didn’t even have the nerve to leave a comment instead of just a jerky thumb down — so we can’t know if they are dickie-lovers, racists, birthday addicts or what. Petty.

      • stex52 - Dec 18, 2013 at 11:16 AM

        It’s obviously your loyal following, philiac.

      • historiophiliac - Dec 18, 2013 at 11:55 AM

        Do you think they’re actually salty? That would be funny.

      • maikoch - Dec 18, 2013 at 3:34 PM

        Hmmm, why the thumbs down? Here are a few possibilities:

        1. You (historiophiliac) are extremely smug. Self-righteousness just oozes from your posts–you think you’re a smarter and better person than the rest of us, and it shows.

        2. You are extremely pedantic. I’m not sure that people on the Chicago Manual of Style website discussion boards would bother discussing the semantics of ‘birthday’ vs. ‘anniversary’. I KNOW that nobody on a baseball blog cares.

        3. You think you’re funny, and you’re not. That means you clutter up these comment boards with “witty” posts that, well, aren’t witty.

        4. Your…”arguments,” for lack of a better word, are often unclear and are even borderline nonsensical. In the comment above, you made a remark about Michael Vick. I literally have NO idea what you’re saying there. I suppose you’re implying that the justice system is racist. I could be on board with that notion, but then to deploy Michael Vick as an instructive example? I think not. I see no compelling reason to believe that his prosecution was about race–it was about a prominent athlete engaging in a VERY unpopular behavior. Whether or not you think his punishment was fair, I am confident that Peyton Manning or Tom Brady would have been treated similarly if they had been the guilty parties.

        I have no doubt you will dismiss this comment with some pithy remark. But it should say something to you that on a blog populated with a bunch of whack job conservatives (stlouis1baseball, largebill, dirtyharry, etc.), you are far and away the commenter I dislike the most.

      • historiophiliac - Dec 18, 2013 at 4:39 PM

        Dude, I wasn’t seriously wondering about the thumbs. I do not care. It means nothing to me that you dislike me the most. I don’t even notice. Also, here’s the difference between you and me: as annoying as you find me, I won’t ever make derogatory comments about you as a person on here. I just won’t read your posts, if you irk me. Being annoying is one thing; personally attacking someone is another. Have a nice day and I look forward to annoying you again tomorrow.

    • justanothersportsjunkie - Dec 18, 2013 at 11:03 AM

      Wow, that’s a lot of perceived rage considering you only have one birthday, and that’s when your life begins. After that they’re all anniversaries of the same event, dead or alive.

      • historiophiliac - Dec 18, 2013 at 11:17 AM

        When you’re dead, you don’t have birthdays anymore. Ronald Reagan did not turn 100, and today, Joseph Stalin is not 135. Side note: Joseph Stalin, Ty Cobb, and Stephen Spielberg as birthday mates? What a suck-ass birthday.

      • stex52 - Dec 18, 2013 at 11:41 AM

        But don’t forget Brad Pitt, Keith Richards, Betty Grable, Katie Holmes, Ossie Davis, and Douglas Fraser.

      • nbjays - Dec 18, 2013 at 12:12 PM

        Also Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the actor who played Shoeless Joe in “Field of Dreams”. And Moose Skowron.

      • skids003 - Dec 18, 2013 at 12:17 PM

        Good thing Stalin isn’t still around. Except for Betty Grable, bad birthday.

      • anxovies - Dec 18, 2013 at 12:43 PM

        But on the bad side, George Washington was buried today and it is the birth date of Joseph Grimaldi, History’s Greatest Mime. I hate those guys.

      • jwbiii - Dec 18, 2013 at 3:07 PM

        Moose Skowron was cool. He owned a bar in the Chicago suburbs for many years and would tell baseball stories for as long as anyone cared to listen.

    • ptfu - Dec 18, 2013 at 11:22 AM

      Fewer birthday commemorations mean fewer excuses to eat (birthday) cake.

      • historiophiliac - Dec 18, 2013 at 11:23 AM

        Ahhh, the dessert angle. You could have Xmas cookies instead.

      • nbjays - Dec 18, 2013 at 11:36 AM

        Birthday Pie > Birthday Cake > almost everything else (except birthday sex) > bread pudding.

        /throws gauntlet down for Historio :-)

      • historiophiliac - Dec 18, 2013 at 12:10 PM

        Honey, you don’t argue with crazy. You stick it in a sweater and park it next to the tree for photos.

        /puts nbj in an ugly sweater and sets him next to the tree with his soggy pie

      • nbjays - Dec 18, 2013 at 12:16 PM

        /scarfs down delicious pie and smiles for Historio’s picture with pie crust in my teeth.

      • jwbiii - Dec 18, 2013 at 3:17 PM

        Felix Pie signed with the KBO Hanwha Eagles. Maybe we can hear less of this silliness in the future. Cakes, pies, cookies, cobblers, buckles, and slumps (except the Mark Grace ones) are all good.

      • raysfan1 - Dec 18, 2013 at 10:20 PM

        Mar-cake-is is better than Pie. Pie means foot in Spanish, and nobody wants to eat feet.

    • anxovies - Dec 18, 2013 at 12:29 PM

      Did the day start out bad, histo? Discovered that you were out of coffee and the car wouldn’t start? OK! OK! It’s the birth anniversary of some dead biological matter entombed in Rose Hill Cemetery in Royston, Georgia.

    • Professor Longnose - Dec 18, 2013 at 1:56 PM

      OK, I’ll leave a comment (I didn’t thumb either way). Per the OED:



      [f. birth n.1 + day.]

      1.1 The day on which any one is born; also fig. that of regeneration; transf. (of things), the day or date of origin or beginning.

      2.2 The anniversary or annual observance of the day of birth of any one; sometimes spec. that of the sovereign.

      Nothing there about still being alive.

      • historiophiliac - Dec 18, 2013 at 2:00 PM

        Is it common in your family to celebrate birthdays of those who have passed on?

    • Professor Longnose - Dec 18, 2013 at 2:09 PM

      That’s irrelevant. The question is whether people are misusing the word, and there’s a long history of it being used this way. You may not like it, and you can continue to rail against it if you want, but I don’t think you have much of a case. I don’t think using the word to mean “anniversary of birth” hinders communication.

      • historiophiliac - Dec 18, 2013 at 2:13 PM

        I didn’t realize we were playing Internet Semantics. Go fish!

    • Professor Longnose - Dec 18, 2013 at 2:19 PM

      You didn’t realize you were playing internet semantics when you started ranting against someone’s use of a word in a way you didn’t like?

      • historiophiliac - Dec 18, 2013 at 2:23 PM

        I did not argue with the use of the word but the custom of celebrating birthdays after a person’s passing. I think it’s a dumb thing. But, I really think you are taking this waaaay too seriously. Have a nice day.

    • Professor Longnose - Dec 18, 2013 at 2:37 PM

      I’m a professional editor. On the serious scale, this is bupkis.

      Have a nice day, too, and an enjoyable holiday season. And good luck with your anti-celebration campaign.

  5. sfm073 - Dec 18, 2013 at 9:52 AM

    Times change and people change, in 1936 racism was the norm. I’m just playing devils advocate here bc I truly don’t care about steroids, but maybe the problem isn’t who the voters are voting for and aren’t voting for, but rather the voting process.

  6. chacochicken - Dec 18, 2013 at 10:07 AM

    For what it is worth, later in life Ole Ty supported integration and seemed to be rather less racist than credited.

  7. xdj511 - Dec 18, 2013 at 10:20 AM

    To celebrate I shall listen to Soundgarden’s “Ty Cobb” from their album Down On The Upside, although since it is riddled with f-bombs, it might be appropriate to wait until after work.

  8. MyTeamsAllStink - Dec 18, 2013 at 10:30 AM

    Tommy Lee Jones portrayal of Cobb in the movie was outstanding.

  9. tc4306 - Dec 18, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    ” A Hall of Fame without Ty Cobb in it would be the most ridiculous thing imaginable.”
    No it is not.
    The most ridiculous thing imaginable is a Hall of Fame without Pete Rose in it.

    • cohnjusack - Dec 18, 2013 at 11:06 AM

      Ty Cobb was much, much better than Pete Rose.

      You know that, right?

      Dear god, please tell me you know that.

      • nbjays - Dec 18, 2013 at 11:34 AM

        He was also a much, much worse human being, yet we are willing to give him a pass on that.

        If we can separate the baseball accomplishments of Ty Cobb from his blatant racism and other egregious social dysfunction, at least enough to enshrine him in Cooperstown, then why can we not show Pete Rose the same courtesy.

        Put it this way: if Cobb had played in Rose’s era and Rose had played in Cobb’s, I have no doubt that their roles with respect to HoF enshrinement would be reversed. Actually, Cobb wouldn’t even be considered as his baseball career would have been cut short when he was sent to prison for assault.

      • historiophiliac - Dec 18, 2013 at 11:47 AM

        I really don’t get the Rose fanboys.

      • nbjays - Dec 18, 2013 at 11:57 AM

        Not really a “fanboy”, Historio, but I fail to see how everyone can seperate the baseball playing career and resulting stats from the sins for everyone else but not for Pete.

      • cohnjusack - Dec 18, 2013 at 12:07 PM

        This is called false equivalency.

        Rose is not out of the hall for being a bad person. He’s banned because he violated very clear rules in regards to gambling.

      • stex52 - Dec 18, 2013 at 12:07 PM

        In the baseball world there is no greater crime than gambling on outcomes. He tells the world that he never bet against his own team, but how in the world can you ever trust that? He’d be a bad gambler if he didn’t take both sides. That is how Rose is different.

        Besides, he chose to be removed from consideration.

      • stex52 - Dec 18, 2013 at 12:08 PM

        Besides, ask Shoeless Joe if Rose would have been in the HOF if he had been playing then.

      • skids003 - Dec 18, 2013 at 12:14 PM

        nbjays, Cobb played 100 years ago. Like it or not, what was considered the norm then, we consider egregious these days. cohnjusack is right, Rose broke a very clear rule. It’s different. What we consider OK today may be considered bad in 100 years. If humanity makes it that long.

      • nbjays - Dec 18, 2013 at 12:38 PM

        “In the baseball world there is no greater crime than gambling on outcomes.”

        Maybe so, Stex, but only after it was eventually deemed a crime, sort of like steroids, I guess. Otherwise the HoF would not have John McGraw in it.

        “Cobb played 100 years ago. Like it or not, what was considered the norm then, we consider egregious these days.”

        Skids, I would seriously argue whether the various documented cases of Cobb’s misdeeds was ever considered “the norm”. Frowned upon but tolerated, perhaps… normal, never. Cobb was about as sociopathic as they come.

      • skids003 - Dec 18, 2013 at 1:20 PM

        nbjays, maybe “the norm” is not a good way to put it. Let’s say just not as frowned upon as nowadays.

    • mayorrobford - Dec 18, 2013 at 11:07 AM

      Naahhhhhh Cobb was a much better ball player than Rose

  10. yahmule - Dec 18, 2013 at 11:07 AM

    Had Cobb been arrested after his first assault and punished appropriately, he probably could have straightened himself out quite a bit. He lived to play baseball, if that had ever been truly jeopardized, he would have adjusted his behavior.

    Who knows what Ty Cobb would be like today? Would anybody born in 1886 have the same values or beliefs they did if they were born in 1986? The only thing I know for sure is he would have been one of the best baseball players ever no matter when he was born.

    I’m not surprised Cobb changed his opinions on some things over the years. Muhammad Ali said, “The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”

    • stex52 - Dec 18, 2013 at 11:15 AM

      This ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    • historiophiliac - Dec 18, 2013 at 12:26 PM

      Okay, since you got thumbs up for this and I got thumbs down for saying much the same, I’m left to conclude that my thumbs down came from dickie-lovers and fans of Sarah McLachlin’s ASPCA plugs.

      • yahmule - Dec 18, 2013 at 1:05 PM

        And birthday sentimentalists.

        Like you, I find the practice of counting birthdays beyond the point of an individuals’ demise off putting. The trick is being born before they kept precise records. This way Hannibal Barca doesn’t have to hear about turning 2260. Who needs that?

      • historiophiliac - Dec 18, 2013 at 1:10 PM

        Mother Jones approves that sentiment.

        I don’t remember this being a big thing more than a few years ago….Then again, I don’t understand the nuts who have nothing better to do than spend part of their Christmas holiday in the cold watching Fake Geo Washington inaccurately cross the Delaware.

  11. moogro - Dec 18, 2013 at 11:48 AM

    I love his choker. They should bring that back.

  12. philliesblow - Dec 18, 2013 at 12:27 PM

    Cobb’s anger is often attributed to the circumstances surrounding his mother killing his father. When he first went off to play baseball, his father told him to not come home a failure. His father was killed 3 weeks before he joined the Tigers and Cobb was driven by the sense that his father was still watching him.

  13. nymets4ever - Dec 18, 2013 at 12:38 PM

    Racism is unacceptable and inexcusable no matter what “era” one lives in, you classless turds.

    • stex52 - Dec 18, 2013 at 12:51 PM

      Go away, little troll. Grownups are talking here.

      • nymets4ever - Dec 18, 2013 at 2:00 PM

        lol @ scumbags defending fellow scumbags.

  14. plmathfoto - Dec 18, 2013 at 2:19 PM

    How did I know, without looking, after reading the article that Craig wrote this.

    Anyway, another guy that I know would’ve been hated in this era for very different reasons than Cobb would’ve been Joe DiMaggio, who is revered. The guy was a horrible teammate, totally self absorbed (if you don’t believe it dude made sure he was always referred to as the greatest living player after some vote branded him as such) and also all the other personal stuff that would’ve come out.

  15. tycobbhistorian - Dec 18, 2013 at 2:57 PM

    50 YEARS of SUBVERSION, COBB STILL ENDURES! Writers Betrayed Hall of Famer, Ruined his Legacy.


    The TY COBB Historian

    Tampa, Fla., It was 50 years ago today that Ty Cobb made his final out. And for the last five decades, everyone imaginable has tried to portray him as all things except who he indeed was – the greatest baseball player of all-time.

    Lest we forget, he was voted on as the first player inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum, even ahead of Babe Ruth!

    It all began in 1959, two years after Ty had returned to his native state of Georgia to live out his days as a country squire, as he called it. That is when he contacted Doubleday to help assist him in finding a suitable writer that could help him put his life story in ink. His efforts were to “set the record straight.”

    Al Stump was a writer who graduated from the University of Washington and who was viewed as a risky guy willing to take a chance at some new venture. Stump worked as a sportswriter for the Vancouver Columbian and the Portland Oregonian and was famous for having many “ghostly apparition hanging over his keyboard.” Yes, Stump loved to drink and drink a lot!

    Stump and Cobb began work on the book titled, “My Life In Baseball – The True Record” which is now, believed by many, to be the best written record of the famed Georgia Peach and his life as the master of the baseball diamond.

    However, Stump had other plans!

    Stump portrayed Cobb as a drunkard, cheater, racist, prejudiced monster, and a gun-wielding idiot with a temper that shot off at the motion of a wind’s change and at a moment’s notice. An image I think reflected Stump’s own persona.

    He was setting his sights on a fortune that he thought he could make by double crossing Cobb after his death. Double crossing came easy for the beguiling Stump, but the grand payday he sought never materialized with the first book.

    Stump made up lies about Cobb and filched all that he could from a man who was dying of cancer and dying to tell his story before it was too late.

    Stump couldn’t wait for Cobb to die remarking that if Cobb died before the book was finished he would write what he wanted. “I’m not going to die before the book is finished,” remarked Cobb. “I’ll write slow,” promised Stump!

    It was Stump’s destiny to deceive Cobb and he made no small efforts to purge all of Cobb’s belongings from his two prolific estates in Lake Tahoe, Nevada and Atherton, California.

    Stump took all of Cobb’s letterheads, stationary and other personal effects and stored them where he could sell them off later for a handsome price.

    To make matters more outrageous, he began to forge hundreds, if not thousands of letters, notes and other handwritings and signed Cobb’s name on them and sold them to anyone who would believe that they were authentic.

    He went as far as to use Cobb’s traditional green ink for most of his handwriting forgeries.

    The most recent discoveries were diaries from 1942 and 1946 that Stump allegedly said belonged to Cobb. There are three known 1946 diaries out there that the possessors believe they had the original because of the “green ink.”

    However, a closer examination of all three diaries clearly shows that the exact same handwriting was reproduced on each of the three diaries. Stump was a proficient forger and sold all of these diaries illegally.

    Stump’s lies were rooted so deeply in both of his books; the second one was released a year or more before his death in 1994, that it would take excessive space to detail it all. However, one thing is certain, the fuse is being consumed quickly for Stump. The tide is slowly turning on the thiefmaster and his secret, which he thought would never be revealed.

    But Stump wasn’t the only deceiver of Cobb’s. Ohio University history professor, Charles Alexander, followed Stump’s first book in 1985 with a few falsities of his own. In his book, “Ty Cobb,” Alexander chose to fabricate stories of Cobb’s run in with blacks to make Cobb look like a racist.

    Alexander once told this writer that he was at a disadvantage because of the lack of technology at the time, but I am not buying into such an ineffectual and vain pardon from someone of his caliber.

    There is enough circumstantial evidence to lead one to believe that these writers had the same information available to them as we have now. It may not have been quiet as easy to access before, but they still had it.

    It is obvious to see by some of the information that Alexander did present in his book that he knew most of what we know, but chose to interpret things to his own choosing.

    Such as when Cobb’s father had been accidentally shot and killed by his Mrs. Cobb. Alexander stated that Mrs. Cobb had gotten a “shotgun” from the corner of the room and fired it at someone trying to “raise the window” from the “porch roof” of their home.

    To put matters in perspective, Mrs. Cobb was acquitted of murder in the Franklin County Superior Court on March 31, 1906, as she rightfully should have been. Mrs. Cobb herself gave a statement to the coroner’s jury stating that she mistook her husband for an intruder and shot him through the window with her pistol while he was standing in the yard.

    “I retired about 10 o’clock,” said Mrs. Cobb to a coroner’s jury shortly after the accident, “and woke up sometime during the night. I heard a kind of rustling noise at the lower window of my room,” she continued. “I got up and got my pistol.”

    There was no porch roof, there was no shotgun and there was never a lover as claimed by Alexander in his book. He had Mrs. Cobb’s statement prior to writing his book and he chose to select the information he wished to publish that seemed most suitable for him in trying to establish a sensational circumstance. This gave the author optimal control to lead his story in an unfavorable direction for the Cobb family.

    He was also determined to make Cobb out to be a manic, “a creature without normal motivation,” as he stated it.

    Stump and Alexander had followers to their displaced lunatic and extremely impractical phenomena.

    Documents from the State vs Amanda Cobb Trial held in the Franklin County Superior Court at Carnesville, Georgia.

    Richard Bak, of Detroit, shadowed Stump and Alexander stating that Cobb was a “Mean S.O.B.” and Bak tried earnestly to settle his personal fight with the north and south through his book on Ty Cobb.

    The lesson to his readers on race relations in Georgia, or the south in general, were more of his fantasy than it was facts.

    On page 19 of his 2005 revised version of his former edition, “Ty Cobb: His Tumultuous Life And Times,” Bak stated that “Ty and his father both read the ‘Journal’ religiously during its race-baiting heyday.”

    Bak continued that their racial attitudes were shaped by, or “reinforced” by the paper’s “sensational views and inflammatory rhetoric.” Contrary to Bak’s belief that Professor W.H. Cobb supported a servile attitude toward blacks he more so, advocated a broader education for blacks in the state of Georgia.

    In a speech he gave at a Georgia Agriculture Society Convention in Thomasville in August 1901, Mr. Cobb addressed the subject social equalities and the future Georgia would face with its race relations.

    “History teaches us that three systems of controlling the people of a Government have been tried, slavery, serfdom and education; that the first two have been dismal failures,” said the elaborated Cobb. “That the educational system of governing a people by training up the children in the way they should go and teaching them to control themselves is the greatest political discovery of the ages.”

    He continued that the “slate and pencil were more efficient implement of true weal than the hangman’s knot and the policeman’s club.”

    He also gave his prophecies for the state’s future racial solutions stating that the “day would come in Georgia when it would be absolutely necessary to preserve the equilibrium of social forces.”

    Professor Cobb was very close to an outspoken and prominent Whig party member who was one of the last remaining voters in Georgia that elected Abraham Lincoln as our 16th president.

    Professor Cobb was editor of the paper owned by this fellow citizen who installed the first black census taker in the county.

    Professor Cobb fought for the rights to give equal education to the black population in Georgia and took on abolitionists views toward blacks.

    This was an oversight on all former Cobb authors or was it? Didn’t they have access to the same information? Why did they choose to omit such pertinent information about the subject of their eventual credibility? Why did they not chose not to publish these positive points and details about Cobb’s life?

    I believe they never foresaw the advancement of technology and they never suspected that someone would come along and discover their secrets. Their secrets being that they published all these lies for their own gain at the expense of the greatest player in baseball history.

    The secrets of how they had information and they chose to employ “select information authorship,” a method used in publishing a portion of the story and leaving out key information that would have balanced the scale of their story. This works until someone discovers the use of this strategy.

    However, because of these findings and additional discoveries to come, Al Stump, Charles Alexander and Richard Bak will soon be placed in the same category as liars, cheats and forgers, destine to be set aside as an implausible Cobb resource and a new wave of stories and facts will surface to permanently stand solid for Ty Cobb’s reputation. This will lend a much needed hand in giving his legacy final justice and restoration to its original state.

    It has been 50 years to the day that Ty Cobb made his final out.

    The day was a somber occurrence in Royston and the rest of northeast Georgia as baseball’s most prominent performer made his way home from the private service held for him in Cornelia, Ga. The session traveled 27 miles to Royston to a mausoleum he had built for his family to rest in eternally.

    Stump said that he took Ty to the Cobb mausoleum on a snowy Christmas Eve in 1960. He also claims that Cobb got extremely furious because he could not find the family mausoleum that he had built. To begin with, no accounts exist that prove it snowed on Christmas Eve that year.

    And there is no area of the graveyard where the Cobb Mausoleum is not visible. It is huge and sits on a hill near the highest point in the graveyard. I use to live four blocks away from there and I could see Cobb’s mausoleum from my upstairs bedroom window.

    Stump was also the first to point out that Cobb only had three players to attend his funeral. There was a good reason for this. You see, the Cobb family made public requests that the service be held private and ask members of Major League Baseball not to attend. Articles detailing the request were run in select media outlets.

    The family did not want Cobb’s funeral to be a fiasco like Babe Ruth’s funeral turned out to be. Most will remember that hundreds of thousands lined up outside St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York as the chaos unraveled.

    There were three of Cobb’s real close friends that were allowed to attend as honorary pallbearers, Cochran, Schalk and Nap Rucker. Also in attendance was Sid Keener, the then director of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

    Unknown to most, many of Cobb’s contemporaries had already died by 1961. Ruth died in 1948, Speaker in 1958, Connie Mack in 1956, Hugh Jennings in 1928, Walter Johnson in 1946 and Honus Wagner in 1955. Cobb had simply outlived most of his leaguemates.

    The famous Georgian has endured so much more since his death than he ever had during his lifetime. Maybe someday, somewhere, people will want to believe the facts over the lies and deceit, an injuctice he has been granted by these gold-digging writers.

    All the lies written about Cobb have now been woven into baseball history and taken as the truth, believed to be supreme over actual and official written documents.

    But the unveiling of Al Stump’s deception, a misdeed he has lived and died with, will continue to surface and haunt the writer’s legacy. The FBI investigation into these forged documents will remain active as new allegations arise.

    There are museums in several states that are removing the Stump-forged pieces from displays and historians are sharing and trading information, and acknowledging that Stump was a firsthand fraud.

    He lied about Mrs. Cobb shooting her husband with a shotgun. A story Stump concocted because of his beloved idol, Ernest Hemingway, had used a shotgun to kill himself two weeks before Cobb’s death and during the time when Stump was finishing up the book. It is noteworthy to say that Stump was the first writer to claim the shotgun story.

    Fifty years of believing Al Stump’s version has made it difficult for those who believe that the truth will prevail, but I do see the turning of the page and the reversal of the tide. I am confident that the ending to the Stump era is eminent and Ty Cobb will once again remain supreme in the annals of baseball history.

    I believe in justice and I believe that people generally want to know the truth and eventually more people will research this subject thoroughly, and more extensively, and determine that the facts will stand to model on their own merit and supersede the decaying, paltry and cunning larceny .

    I believe that Stump will pay for his horrendous crime of ruining Cobb’s reputation more than 50 years ago and soon will be tried in public opinion as new allegations are bound to be unearthed.

    But nevertheless, Ty Cobb’s memory will continue to endure even after the Al Stump era vanishes now that he has been exposed for his lies, pilfering and forgeries.

    Hopefully, now we can close the Al Stump period and move on to more reliable sources and get the facts out to the public for the historical intentions of preserving baseball’s long and revered past.

    Long lived the Prince of Baseball !

    • cur68 - Dec 18, 2013 at 6:52 PM

      Well, I read all of that. Clearly you are a Ty Cobb fan. However, where does it debunk the various assaults on black people often described? In fact, those same assaults are catalogued by many people, not just Stump et al. It seems that A LOT of people where out to get Cobb, eh? Why? Or, perhaps, he really did the things people saw him do. He did those things right out in public and many people saw them. I don’t doubt that people like Stump made up stuff. But they didn’t make those things up out of nothing. There was a real foundation of atrocious behaviour on Cobb’s part to point to, thus lending credibility to the fabrications. You should think about that when you bang the drum slowly for Ty Cobb.

    • mmeyer3387 - Dec 18, 2013 at 8:58 PM

      You couldn’t be more spot on. Cobb, clearly was not a good person. However, he was clearly one of the greatest to ever play. Which means that he belongs in the HOF. Furthermore, his numbers were so good that one can easily make the argument that he may have been the greatest to ever play.

  16. jwbiii - Dec 18, 2013 at 3:25 PM

    Ty Cobb was a very complicated man. Here is something you may not know about him (also Christy Mathewson and Branch Rickey):

    • skids003 - Dec 18, 2013 at 4:57 PM

      Thanks for that link. I have never heard of this. Well written, those 3 sure didn’t have to do that.

  17. timpaz - Dec 18, 2013 at 4:56 PM

    Must be a slow baseball news day when this makes hardball talk, great player, terrible person, was an ol cracker!

  18. officialgame - Dec 18, 2013 at 6:00 PM

    Cobb sounds like a real peach. Racist, bigot. Anti Semite Georgia peach. He should be in the Hall but their should the true story right next to his plaque.

  19. forsch31 - Dec 18, 2013 at 7:20 PM

    Seems a good a place to post this:

    • raysfan1 - Dec 18, 2013 at 10:32 PM

      As seemingly always, my response to anything Buck O’Neil said is “that’s awesome!” What a man he was, God rest his soul in peace.

      Thanks for posting this!

      • spc7ray - Dec 19, 2013 at 6:53 PM

        We needed more like Buck ONeil–Great player and a great man–He sure said it better than I ever could–Ty Cobb was one of the greatest players ever AND easily one of the worst people ever to play -Most everyone in Baseball knows that–Like Buck said though–It was the time–Way too many people just didn’t think Blacks were equal-hell most didn’t think they were totally human!–Look at some of the sorts pages back then when Jack Johnson was portrayed as a Gorilla fighting the white man! Sadly there are still those people today–Too bad more don’t listen to Buck

  20. racksie - Dec 18, 2013 at 11:07 PM

    In this Hall of Fame season I think it is important to point out out,that Cobb would have been kicked out of the game long before his 24th season, and would not have ever sniffed hall of fame numbers, let alone the Hall of Fame. And would have been jailed for any number of illegal actions. Makes Craig’s sanctimony moot here. These are not crimes against baseball that are described, these are crimes against humanity.

  21. proudliberal85392 - Dec 19, 2013 at 12:04 AM

    Good ballplayer, rotten person. HOF? Yep.

  22. Minoring In Baseball - Dec 19, 2013 at 6:40 AM

    Of course Craig just couldn’t keep this about baseball, attacking a man long gone and not able to defend himself. Through baseball, we can look at a man’s stats and see those as FACT. It’s a fact that he was a great baseball player, maybe the best ever. If anyone was alive at the time he was, or actually knew him in person, then I guess you have the right to speak up and state an opinion. I really doubt anyone at this point can confirm or debunk any of the remarks made against him. Was he a good or bad person? I don’t know, but I’m sure the rumors of how horrible he was have been exaggerated. As far as baseball goes, yeah, he had more votes than the Babe for the HOF.

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