Ty Cobb

Tyrus Raymond “Ty” Cobb was born on December 18, 1886 in Narrows, Georgia. Ty was the first of the three children to Amanda Chitwood Cobb and William Herschel Cobb. Ty’s first years in baseball were played with the Royston Rompers, the semi-pro Royston Reds and the Augusta Tourists of the Sally League. Ty was cut from the Tourists only two days into the season. After being cut from the Tourists he went to try out for the Anniston Steelers of the semi-pro team Tennessee-Alabama.

In August of 1905 Ty was traded to the Detroit Tigers for five hundred dollars. Along with being traded in August Ty’s mother shot and killed his father. Ty’s mother was charged with murder then later released on a ten thousand dollar recognizance bond. Three weeks after his mother killed his father Cobb started in center field for the Detroit Tigers. On August 30, 1905, in Ty Cobb’s first major league at-bat he doubled off of the New York Highlanders Jack Chesbro. In the 1905 season Ty managed to bat only .240 in a total of forty-one games. But with the promising start he had shown the Tigers gave him a one thousand five hundred dollar contract for the 1906 season.

During the 1906 season Ty became the full-time center fielder for the Tigers while batting .316 in ninety eight games. Four times in his career, the first in 1907 he reached first, stole second, stole third, then stole home in the same inning. In the 1907 season he finished with a league high .350 batting average, 212 hits, 49 stolen bases and 119 Runs batted in (RBI). Ty was no stranger to controversy. At Spring Training in 1907, Cobb fought a black groundskeeper over the condition the Tigers field was in. In off season between the 1907 and 1908 seasons Ty was offered a coaching job at Clemson Agricultural College of South Carolina, but Cobb refused the offer and remained with the Tigers for the 1908 season.

In the 1908 season the Tigers defeated the Chicago White Sox for the American League pennant. Cobb again won the batting title with a .324 batting average. Also in 1908 Cobb married Charlotte Marion Lombard, the daughter of Augustan Roswell Lombard. Again in 1909 the Detroit Tigers won the American League pennant. During the series Cobb stole home in the second game, which started a three run rally, but that was the only high point of that series for Ty. Ty didn’t help his team out to much during the World Series. He batted only .231 as the Tigers lost in seven games. Even though he didn’t play very good in the post-season, Cobb still won the Triple Crown by hitting .377 with 107 RBI’s and nine home runs.

In 1915 Cobb set the single-season record for stolen bases with ninety six. The following year Cobb’s streak of five consecutive batting titles ended as he finished second with.371 average and Tris Speaker’s stole the title with a .386 average. In 1917 Ty Cobb stared in the motion picture Somewhere in Georgia. Ty played himself, a small town bank clerk with baseball talent. But the movie wasn’t that popular. One Broadway critic said the movie was “absolutely the worst flicker I ever saw, pure hokum.”

By 1920 Babe Ruth had established himself as a power hitter, something that Cobb never really was considered. When Cobb’s Tigers and Babe’s Yankees meet in the first match up of the season the fans were ready. Babe had a great series with two home runs and a triple while Cobb had one single. Cobb didn’t like Ruth’s playing style so he decided to start swinging for the fences like Babe does. Cobb went a perfect 6 for 6 with two singles, a double and three home runs. Ty had five home runs in the two games tied a record set by Cap Anson in 1884.

1921 was a start of something new for Ty. For the 1921 season he was going to be playing on the field and he would be the coaching. While coaching the Tigers Cobb never won a Pennant, the closest he came was finishing third. Cobb blamed his bad luck while managing on the team’s owner Frank Navin. Again in 1925 Cobb was in the race for the batting title, but his teammate beat him out of it with a .393 average while Ty finished with a .389 average.

Finally after a 22-year career with the tigers, Cobb decided to call it quits. He officially announced his retirement in November of 1926. In Ty’s last days he spent the time with comedian Joe E. Brown talking about the decisions that Cobb had made in his life. Ty checked into Emory Hospital for his last time in June, 1961. Ty Cobb died a month later, on July 17, 1961.

"Ty Cobb." 2009. Wikipedia. 5 Mar. 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ty_Cobb>

"The Official Web Site of Ty Cobb." 2009. Ty Cobb Inc. 5 Mar. 2009. <http://www.cmgww.com/baseball/cobb/credits.html>

By: Zach Bennis

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