The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Ty Cobb

Tyrus Raymond Cobb (December 18, 1886 in Narrows, Georgia - July 17, 1961 in Atlanta, Georgia), usually known as Ty Cobb and nicknamed "The Georgia Peach", was an American baseball player considered to be the greatest player of the "Deadball Era" (1900-1920), and perhaps of all time. He was the first player elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, in 1936.

Ty Cobb baseball card, 1909
Ty Cobb baseball card, 1909

He was born to William, a teacher, and his child-bride, Amanda. William named his eldest child after the Phoenician city of Tyre, which withstood Alexander the Great's army. William was opposed to Ty playing baseball, fearing it would turn him into a "ruffian." He finally relented, assuming that once Ty got it out of his system, he would return home to lead a "respectable" life.

Ty was playing for the Augusta Tourists on August 8, 1905 when something happened that changed his life forever. William told Amanda he was going on a 3-day trip, but returned that night, and climbed up a ladder to their bedroom window. Allegedly believing him an intruder, she killed him with the shotgun he gave her for her protection. Although he initially supported her (she was acquitted at trial), Ty idolized William, and came to believe the rumors that Amanda was unfaithful and William was trying to catch her with her lover. Ty never got over the incident nor forgave her. Eight days after his father's funeral, Cobb was called up to the Detroit Tigers.

Cobb won 12 American League batting titles, a record that has not been closely approached. His batting average topped the .400 mark three times. He is still the Tigers' all-time leader in at-bats (10,586), runs (2,087), hits (3,902), doubles (664), triples (286), RBIs (1,805), total bases (5,471), stolen bases (865), on-base percentage (.424), and batting average (.369). When he retired in 1928, he had set 90 MLB records. But, he was disliked widely by the press and opponents, and today is remembered for his violent behavior off the field and for his racist attitudes.

In 1910, Cobb and the Cleveland Indians' Nap Lajoie were neck-and-neck for the American League batting title, with Cobb ahead by a slight margin going into the last day of the season. The prize was a Chalmers Automobile. Cobb sat out the game to preserve his average. Lajoie, whose team was playing the St. Louis Browns, notched seven hits in a doubleheader to pass Cobb. Six of those hits were bunt singles which fell in front of the third baseman. It turned out that the Browns' manager had ordered the third baseman to play back, so as to allow the popular Lajoie to win the title. AL president Ban Johnson declared Cobb the official batting average winner after some wrangling. The Chalmers people, however, decided to award an automobile to both Cobb and Lajoie. The next year, the Chalmers Award was given to the player "most valuable" to his team, and the modern Most Valuable Player Award was born, with Cobb winning the American League version unanimously.

In May, 1912, Cobb assaulted a heckler in the stands in New York. The league suspended him, and his teammates, though not fond of Cobb, went on strike to protest the suspension prior to the May 18th 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. The strike ended when Cobb urged his teammates to return to the field.

He was accused by former teammate Dutch Leonard of fixing a 1919 game against the Indians. Leonard said he, Cobb, the Indians' Tris Speaker and Smokey Joe Wood were in on the fix. Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis later exonerated the players. However, many thought Landis ruled as he did because he didn't want another gambling scandal to taint baseball.

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.

In 1960, sportswriter Al Stump spent an extended period with the aging Cobb in an effort to produce an authorized biography. Despite Cobb's unpleasantness, the book (Cobb: A Biography) 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. In 1994 the writing of the book was used as the basis for a film starring Tommy Lee Jones as Cobb.

Cobb married Charlotte Lombard on August 8, 1908. They had five children -- Tyrus, Jr., Shirley, Herschel, Howell, and Beverly -- but divorced on June 19, 1947. He subsequently married Frances Cass on September 24, 1948, but divorced a few years later.

Cobb is interred in the Royston, Georgia town cemetery. An early investor in Coca-Cola, he was worth over $12 million at his death.

Regular season stats

3035 11434 2246 4189 724 295 117 1937 892 178 1249 357 .366 .433 .512 5854 295 94

See also

External links

  • Ty Cobb's career statistics at
  • Cobb's page at The Baseball Page
  • Cobb's page at the Baseball Hall of Fame website

Last updated: 02-08-2005 07:41:14
Last updated: 05-02-2005 11:43:05