Tyrus Raymond Cobb
“The Georgia Peach”
December 18, 1886 – July 17, 1961
Born: The Narrows, Georgia
Position: Center Fielder
Bats: Left, Throws: Right
Height: 6′ 1″, Weight: 175 lb.
Inducted into the Hall of Fame by BBWAA
as Player in 1936 (222/226 ballots).
Detroit Tigers (1905–1926)
Philadelphia Athletics (1927–1928)
Detroit Tigers (1921–1926)
Georgia On My Mind
Unfortunately Ty Cobb is not necessarily remembered for his accomplishments immortalized by the Baseball Hall of Fame: highest career batting average; second most career hits and runs scored; fourth most career stolen bases, to name just a few places his name rests in the record books. Instead, Cobb’s legacy is marred by the pulpy sentiments of his ornery disposition and, accordingly, the scandals that dogged him. And while racism and violence are not accusations to be ignored, in this case the least we can do is acknowledge the complexity of Cobb’s character.
Utilizing written accounts and also photographs taken of Cobb as the central evidence in his hypothesis, historian and statistician Bill James theorizes that Cobb’s temper was driven by his perceived inadequacies off the baseball diamond–including his "hick" origins and, more specifically, his familial issues. Writes James: "Ty Cobb’s racism and his anger, I believe, were fueled not by smugness or even resentment, but by an unusually intense fear of his own limitations. No one is more macho than a man who feels inadequate; no one walks straighter than a man who is half drunk. When Ty Cobb felt threatened he lashed out at the world. Ty Cobb felt threatened a lot–but as long as he wasn’t challenged, he was a very nice man."
While there’s no disputing that many people had valid reasons for viewing Cobb negatively, it’s also probably fair to assert that history has focused on the slanderous instead of the mundane and flattering aspects of Cobb’s legacy. Nevertheless, for my team I’d take Cobb’s unparalleled commitment on the field, his drive to overcompensate for his shortcomings off of it; you won’t find me having an issue with him for stretching a single into a double and in the process sliding with his spikes up, and for that reason I’m sure we’d get along just fine.
Career Highlights and Awards
- 1911 AL MVP
- .367 career batting average (.366 according to some records, either way the highest ever)
- 54 career steals of home (most all time)
- Won 12 batting titles, including 9 in a row from 1907 to 1915 (most all time)
- Second in career hits with 4,191 (4,189 according to some records)
- Second in runs scored with 2,245
- Fourth all time in stolen bases with 892
- Batted under .320 only once in his career
- Batted over .400 three times (tied for MLB record)
- Led AL with a .350 average at age 20 (youngest in MLB history)
Hall of Fame Benchmarking*
- Black Ink Batting – 150 (2)
- Gray Ink Batting – 417 (1)
- Hall of Fame Monitor Batting – 445 (2)
- Hall of Fame Standards Batting – 75 (7)
*Player rank in (.)
For comprehensive statistics, visit Baseball-Reference.com:
Be sure to check out the players comprising my Field of Dreams.
Would Ty Cobb’s personality keep him off your team? Join the conversation below.