Ty Cobb Biography / Pictures

"Baseball is a red-blooded sport for red-blooded men. It's no pink tea, and mollycoddles had better stay out. It's a struggle for supremacy, a survival of the fittest." - Ty Cobb

Ty Cobb Biography

Tyrus Raymond "Ty" Cobb (December 18, 1886 - July 17, 1961), also known as "The Georgia Peach", was an American baseball player considered to be the greatest player of the "Deadball Era"
Ty Cobb Biography

 (1900-1920), and perhaps of all time. He was the first player elected to the United States Baseball Hall of Fame, in 1936.

A 1942 survey of former major league managers pointed the finger toward Ty Cobb as the greatest baseball player of all time. Many great players have surfaced on the diamond, but none out-hit, outplayed, or out-hustled the man they called "The Georgia Peach." During 24 seasons, most with the Detroit Tigers and a couple with the Philadelphia Athletics, Cobb compiled a .367 batting average, the highest in the history of the game. He is the leader in runs scored with 2,245, and was the all-time hit leader until the mid-1980s when Pete Rose eclipsed him. In 1936, Ty Cobb became the first inductee of baseballís Hall of Fame, earning 222 out of a possible 226 votes.

Born in Narrows, Georgia, Cobb had a strong well-respected father as a role model, but his mother shot his father dead one night as his father was entering the house by a window. Some thought the killing an accident, with Mr. Cobb mistaken for a deadly intruder. Others whispered that Mrs. Cobb had taken a lover, and killed her husband to avoid being caught with him. Either way, the killing was traumatic for young Ty Cobb (18 years old at the time). Some of the fanatical intensity he brought to baseball may have been linked to that killing. Cobb later made his home in Augusta, Georgia and his first venture in to baseball was with the Augusta Tourists.

First years in Major League Baseball

 

Ty Cobb Biography

On August 30, 1905 Cobb took his first Major League at bat against future Hall of Fame pitcher "Happy Jack" Chesbro. Hitting a meager .240 in 150 at bats, it would be his lowest batting average in the majors.

The following year he became centerfielder for the Tigers and hit .320 in 97 games. In 1907, Ty Cobb's Tigers were engaged in an incredibly close 4-way race for the American League pennant with the A's, Indians and White Sox. Both the White Sox and Indians ran into trouble late in the season. The final series that year pitted the Tigers against Connie Mack's Athletics. Cobb belted a ninth inning out of the park home run to send the game into extra innings. In his next at bat (11th inning), the Georgia Peach struck a ground rule double, driving in the go-ahead run. Unfortunately, the A's recouped. When the game was called a tie in the 17th, the Tigers won the pennant anyway.

In the 1907 World Series the Tigers came up against the Chicago Cubs . Cobb did get a triple in Game 4, but the Tigers lost the Series 4-0-1. After winning the batting crown with a .350 average, Cobb struggled to hit .200 in the postseason.

As if it had been scripted, the Tigers once again faced fierce competition in the 1908 American League Pennant Race, this time from the White Sox. They won the pennant on October 6, their last game of the year, defeating the Chisox 7-0. Cobb again won the batting title, although he "only" hit .324 that year. In the first rematch of World Series champions, the Cubs once again beat the Tigers 4-1. Cobb led the Tiger regulars with a .368 batting average.

In a 1909 incident, young Ty Cobb spiked Frank "Home Run" Baker. After the incident, Connie Mack called Cobb "...the dirtiest player around." The Tigers won the American League pennant, and it looked as if Ty Cobb's team might win the World Series against the Pittsburg Pirates. Babe Adams, a rookie pitcher and 4th starter in the Pittsburg rotation, was tapped by Fred Clarke to toss the first game of the series in place of the Pirates ailing ace, Howard Camnitz. He finessed the Tigers, becoming the first pitcher to win three games in a World Series. During the Series Cobb stole home in the second game, igniting a three-run rally, but that was the high point for the Georgia Peach. He ended batting a lowly .231 in his last World Series.
 

1910 Chalmers Award Controversy

In 1910 the batting title was called the Chalmers Award because the highest average won a Chalmers Automobile.
It has been described as an epic battle. Nap Lajoie, manager and star of the Cleveland Indians vs. Ty Cobb of the Detroit Tigers. Unlike Cobb, Lajoie was well-liked by his teammates and other players in

Ty Cobb Biography

Ty Cobb Biography

 the league. Throughout the season Cobb and Lajoie traded the lead, but in the last few days the Georgia Peach pulled solidly in front. The batting crown of 1910 came down to the final day and caused the sport of Major League Baseball its biggest scandal to date. Before the Sunday, October 9th doubleheader, St. Louis Browns manager Jack O' Conner told third baseman Red Corriden to play Lajoie deep, on the outfield grass, so that Corriden would not get hurt.

Lajoie, who tripled in his first at bat, laid down a string of bunts that resulted in 8 hits in 9 appearences (a fielder's choice did not count as an at bat). The performance failed to give Lajoie a victory over Cobb, who decided to sit out the final two games to preserve his average. It would be the third batting crown for Ty Cobb, who would continue to win the title 9 consectutive times.

Individual domination

For 24 years Ty Cobb dominated the game of baseball, although his dream of winning a World Series was never realized. His season-high batting average (.420, 1911) has been eclipse once. His stolen base record (96, 1915) would stand for until Maury Wills "stole" it in 1962. His bat control and fielding were as important to the dead ball era as Babe Ruth's home runs were to the long ball era. Still, the dark, intimidating Cobb exhibited a maniacal "win at all costs" mentality that alienated most of his fellow ball players. Cobb threw with his right hand, but trained himself to bat from the left side of the plate (it was a step closer to first). Choking up on the bat, Cobb was always willing to use his speed to beat out a bunt or pop a fly over a third baseman's head if the infielder was playing too close.

At the end of the 1911 baseball season the first Most Valuable Player Award award was made. Following the 1910 disaster, The Chalmers Company asked eight baseball writers (one from each city that had a pro team) to vote on the award. Cobb won hands down, defeating Pitcher Ed Walsh and thirdbaseman Eddie Collins. Cobb led the batting stats in every major catagory except home runs. Frank "Home Run" Baker hit 9, Cobb hit 8.
 

Ty Cobb Biography

Ty Cobb Biography

On May 15, 1912, Ty Cobb attacked Claude Lueker, a New York Highlander fan who had been verbally sparring with Cobb. In the third inning a particularly taunting remark, especially to a man who grew up in a segragated South, sent the outfielder on a rampage. He charged into the stands and viciously beat Lueker, who could not defend himself - he had lost a hand in an industrial accident. A. L. President Ban Johnson, who was at the game, suspended Cobb on the spot.

The other Tiger players, in support of Cobb, refused to play without him. Having anticipated this move, Detroit manager Hugh Jennings had semi-pro players ready to fill in. After losing 24-2 to the Philadelphia Athletics, the team was called together by Ban Johnson. He told them if they did not play their next game (against Washington), they would never play baseball again. The player reneged after being urged by Cobb not to strike.

On July 4, 1912 Ty Cobb stole three bases, including home plate, in the 5th inning against the Cleveland Browns. It was one of six times Cobb would perform this feat.

In 1914, Red Sox pitcher Dutch Leonard hit Cobb in the ribs with a fastball. In the next at bat, Cobb bunts the ball down the right side line. Firstbaseman Clyde Engle covers the play, turning to toss the ball to Leonard just as Cobb spikes him. On May 31, 1917 Cobb began a 35 game hitting streak.

Walter Johnson had always been a challenging pitcher for Ty Cobb. Finally, Cobb noticed that Johnson carefully avoided throwing at a batter, so Cobb began to crowd the plate. His average against the Washington pitcher nearly doubles. Following the end of the 1920 baseball season, Ty Cobb signs to manage the Tigers.

Ty Cobb - Player / Manager

To say the least, signing Ty Cobb to manage the Detroit Tigers caught the baseall world off-guard. Universally disliked (even by the members of his own team) but a legendary player, Cobb's management style left a lot to be desired. He expected as much from his players as he gave, and most of the men did not meet his standard. The closest he came to winning the pennant race was in 1922, when the Tigers finished in second place. Cobb blamed his lackluster managerial record (479 wins-444 losses) on Detroit Tigers owner Frank Navin, who was a bigger skinflint than the Georgia Peach. 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.

In May, 1925, nearing the end of his career, Ty Cobb changed his swing for two games, holding the bat at the end rather than with his unique split hand grip. He hit five home runs in those two days.

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 Cleveland Browns on October 4, Heilmann got six hits, leading the Tigers to a sweep of the doubleheader and beating 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. Ty Cobb, though, began to slow down, first on the bases and later at the plate. Still, a slower Ty was more formidable than many quick rookies.

After retiring, pitcher Dutch Leonard produced letters in 1926 that implicated Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker and Joe Wood in a gambling scandal. American League President Ban Johnson turned the letters over to Kennesaw Mountain Landis, who secretly met with Speaker, Wood and Cobb. Following the meeting, Landis cleared the players of any wrongdoing.


Ty Cobb Biography


Ty Cobb Biography

Cobb was disliked widely by the press and opponents, and today is remembered for his violent behavior off the field and for his racist attitudes. Even those who disliked him personally acknowledged his skill  as a player, however.

In 1960 sportswriter Al Stump spent an extended period with the aging Cobb, in an effort to produce a authorised biography. Despite Cobb's unpleasantness to Stump the book painted Ty in a sympathetic light. Thirty years later, however, Stump extensively revised the book, including his own experience with Cobb and capturing the man who was so disliked by so many of his contemporaries.

Ty Cobb died in 1961, in Atlanta, Georgia and was interred in the Royston, Georgia town cemetery.

Regular season stats
 

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG TB SH HBP
3035 11434 2246 4189 724 295 117 1937 892 178 1249 357 .366 .433 .512 5854 295 94
 


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