December 1, 2022

Tyrus (The Georgia Peach) Cobb

June 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

One of the greatest players that ever played baseball

CobbTyrus Raymond (The Georgia Peach) Cobb was born in Royston, Georgia, December 18, 1886.  He had a brother, John Paul and a sister, Florence Leslie.  He was a highly complex and misunderstood man. He was also the greatest player of his time and one of the greatest players that ever played baseball.

When the voting took place for the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York in 1936, Cobb finished first with 222 of 226 votes, thus becoming the first player elected into the new Hall. Babe Ruth finished second, Honus Wagner third followed by Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson.

In 1999, the Major League Baseball All-Century Team was chosen by popular vote of fans. To select the team, a panel of experts first compiled a list of the 100 greatest Major League players from the past century. Over two million fans voted.  In addition to Ty Cobb, outfielders included: Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle.

Cobb played for the Detroit Tigers from 1905-1926 finishing his career with the Philadelphia Athletics, 1927 and ’28. Ty was player manager for the Tigers from 1921 until 1926.  His 892 stolen bases led the Majors over 49 years and were eclipsed by first Lou Brock, St. Louis Cardinals, and later by Ricky Henderson of the Oakland Athletics.

He won nine consecutive batting titles (1907 -1915) and twelve over his career, both   Major League records.  He hit over .400 three times and his .366 lifetime batting average is still the best in the Major Leagues. Ty’s 4,191hits was the record until Pete Rose broke it with 4,256.

Cobb won the Triple Crown in 1909 leading the League runs batted in, home runs and batting average. Since the turn of the century only twelve men have accomplished this feat.  In 2012, Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers joined this elite list.

Cobb’s father, William Herschel Cobb was an educated brilliant man. He was a farmer, teacher, newspaper editor, church deacon, philosopher, State Senator and student of American and ancient European history. Ty worshipped his daddy and was extremely close to him. His mother, Amanda Chitwood was from a prominent Georgia family.

“I started playing series baseball when I was fourteen. I played on my local team in Royston. Most of the boys were between sixteen and twenty two but I was the star of the team,” Cobb said.  He was seventeen when he asked his daddy for his blessings so he could play professional baseball with the Augusta Tourists in the newly formed South Atlantic League, better known as the Sally League.

“My daddy was very reluctant,” Cobb said, claiming, “All players were drunkards, gamblers, liars, uneducated louts and womanizers.”

Cobb pleaded with him telling him “how much I loved the game and how good I was. I’m going to make you be proud of me daddy” Cobb said.  Cobb’s father gave his son his blessing although he never saw his son play.

Like many young boys, Cobb dreamed of playing Major League baseball when he was twelve years old.  He was an early believer in visualization.

“I always saw myself playing baseball in those Northern cities, and I saw myself a success,” he said.

He knew how difficult the game was and was fortunate to have some excellent coaches. Ty always maintained he worked harder and out-practiced everyone.

“I had confidence, determination and a strong work ethic that drove me to success.  I was determined to be the very best and pushed myself beyond what even I thought I could do,” Cobb said.

Grantland Rice was one of the few newspaper reporters Cobb became friends with.  Years later, Rice became one of America’s great sports journalists.  Rice writing in the Atlanta Journal described Cobb as a “cross between a tidal wave, a cyclone and an earthquake—fire, wind and water. Then out from the storm comes the glitter of steel, plus ten tons of dynamite hitched to a spark.”

In late August 1905 while having a fine season with the Augusta Tourists his contract was sold to the Detroit Tigers for $750.00 and he reported there in three days. Cobb allegedly said, “I couldn’t believe I was worth so much money.”  That was he beginning of a twenty-three year big league career.

Cobb married Charlie Marion Lombard, a beautiful Southern Belle from a prominent Augusta family. They had five children, three boys and two girls, all raised in Augusta, Georgia. None of the boys played baseball.  Cobb led his Tigers to three straight World Series appearances. Unfortunately, the Tigers lost all three; twice to the Chicago Cubs in 1907 and 1908 and to the Pittsburgh Pirates in1909. He never played in a Series again.

Sports writers and fans said Cobb was a dirty player, spiking infielders and catchers with his sharp spikes. Ty said the reporters never wrote about how many times he was spiked by infielders, spiking his ankles, legs and thighs and “I have the scars to prove it,” he said.

tycobbCobb maintained, “I never on purpose spiked anyone, unless they played sloppy or clumsy or tried to block the base on me. I played by the rules of the game, the basepaths belong to the runner, I never intentionally spiked anyone,” he said.

He was an astute investor in the stock market carefully making small investments in upcoming Corporations but it was his investments in a small soda pop company in Atlanta, Coca Cola, that eventually made Cobb a multi-millionaire.

Cobb graduated from Royston High School but did not attend college. He strongly believed in and was proud of the Cobb Educational Foundation he established in Royston, Georgia in 1953. He believed the most important thing a youngster could do was to get a college education.  The Foundation offered scholarships for poor bright needy students of Georgia, regardless of race.  Hundreds of young black students became a beneficiary of this educational fund thus disputing the myth that Cobb was a racist.

His charitable nature made it possible for thousands of students of Georgia, to achieve a college education, enabling many to become doctors, lawyers, engineers and teachers.

The Ty Cobb Healthcare System and Cobb Memorial Hospital Inc. were dedicated in Royston, Georgia, on January 22, 1950. Ty Cobb donated $100,000 toward the construction of the modern 24-bed hospital designed to meet the health care needs of the people of his hometown and surrounding rural northeast Georgia.

The Royston Record described the new facility as “one of the most modern and best equipped hospitals that have been built in the state of Georgia, containing “the latest equipment… that could be bought.”

Cobb was delighted and proud of funding the Cobb Memorial Hospital in Royston and the Cobb Healthcare system for poor families in Georgia, regardless of race. The Ty Cobb Healthcare Systems, Inc. provides jobs to thousands of healthcare professionals in northeast Georgia.  The Ty Cobb Medical Center in Lavonia, Georgia was opened in 2011.

Mr. Cobb died on July 17, 1961 due to cancer.  He was laid to rest in his hometown of Royston, Georgia.  On July 17, 1998, on the 37th anniversary of his death, the Ty Cobb Museum opened its doors in Royston.


Norm Coleman is an actor, sports writer in Half Moon Bay, California


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