Matt (iberia) wrote in baseballhistory,

Ty Cobb

Cobb, Tyrus R.

b. Dec. 18, 1886, Narrows, GA
d. July 17, 1961

Some consider Cobb the greatest baseball player ever. He was certainly the most feared and most disliked. He played as if driven by demons. Hughie Jennings, who managed him for several years, said of Cobb, "When he was in his prime, he had half the American League scared stiff." Rube Bressler, who played against him, described Cobb as "the most feared man in the history of baseball."

Cobb once announced, "I would cut the heart out of my best friend if he ever tried to block the road." His apparent hatred for the world and almost everyone in it probably stemmed, at least in part, from his father's tragic death in 1905. Suspecting his wife of infidelity, W. H. Cobb climbed a ladder to look into her bedroom window one night and Mrs. Cobb shot and killed him. She was tried for voluntary manslaughter but won acquittal, testifying that she had mistaken her husband for an intruder. Cobb, who was very close to his father, saw his mother only occasionally after that and didn't attend her funeral.

On August 30 of that year, Cobb joined the AL's Detroit Tigers. From the beginning, he refused to room with anyone, ate his meals alone, and rarely spoke to any of his teammates off the field. But even the opponents who feared him soon had to respect his skills as a hitter and base-runner.

After batting only .240 in his first season, Cobb hit .316 in 1906, the first of a record 23 seasons in which he had a batting average over .300. He won a record 10 batting titles, hitting .350 in 1907, .324 in 1908, .377 in 1909, .420 in 1911, .409 in 1912, .390 in 1913, .369 in 1915, .383 in 1917, .382 in 1918, and .384 in 1919. Cobb also batted .401 in 1922 but lost the batting title to George Sisler, who hit .407 that season.

He also led in stolen bases with 49 in 1907, 76 in 1909, 83 in 1911, 96 in 1915, 68 in 1916, and 55 in 1917; in runs scored with 116 in 1909, 106 in 1910, 147 in 1911, 144 in 1915, and 113 in 1916; in hits with 212 in 1907, 188 in 1908, 216 in 1909, 248 in 1911, 226 in 1912, 208 in 1915, 225 in 1917, and 191 in 1919; in doubles with 36 in 1908, 47 in 1911, and 44 in 1917; in triples with 20 in 1908, 24 in 1911, 24 in 1917, and 14 in 1918; and in RBI with 119 in 1907, 108 in 1908, 107 in 1909, and 127 in 1911.

For good measure, Cobb was the league leader in home runs with 9 in 1909, becoming the second player in AL history and the fourth in major league history to win the triple crown.

Cobb helped lead the Tigers to three consecutive pennants, 1906 through 1908. However, they lost the World Series all three years. Cobb hit .368 in the 1907 Series, but only .200 in 1906 and .231 in 1908.

Despite the impressive numbers he compiled over the next seventeen seasons in Detroit, the Tigers never won another pennant while he was there. Cobb became the team's playing manager in 1921, a move that surprised the baseball world because of the way even his teammates felt about him.

As a manager, he had moderate success, guiding the Tigers to a second-place finish in 1923 and two third-place finishes in six seasons. After the 1926 season, Detroit abruptly released him. It transpired that Ban Johnson, the league president, had been given two letters, one written by Cobb, that seemed to indicate he had been involved with Tris Speaker in fixing a 1919 game between Detroit and Cleveland.

Johnson declared that Cobb and Speaker would never play in the American League again, but Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis cleared both players of the charges and Johnson resigned shortly afterward.

Cobb went to the Philadelphia Athletics in 1927, hitting .357, and he retired after batting .323 in 95 games the following year. Wise investments, especially in the Coca-Cola Company, had made him a wealthy man and he spent the rest of his life in lonesome retirement. Twice divorced, he was estranged from his six children. His autobiography, My Life in Baseball, consists largely of tirades against former teammates and opponents.

(copied/pasted from Hickok Sports)
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