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Ty Cobb
About North Georgia

December_18, 1886, Narrows, Georgia
Died July_17, 1961 Atlanta, Georgia

Early life

Ty Cobb at 15
Tiny Narrows, Georgia was where W. H. Cobb, a teacher with a penchant for hard work, met young Amanda Chitwood. When they married in 1882 when Amanda was 12. Four years later Tyrus Raymond 'Ty' Cobb came into what some describe as a "stormy" marriage. Eighteen years later Amanda would shoot W. H. when he came home unexpectedly in the middle of the night.

Early in his life his parents moved to Royston, Georgia because the town was on a major rail line and enjoying a boom period. Today he is so closely associated with the town that many mistakenly believe it was his birthplace. It is the location of the Ty Cobb Museum.

As a young man Ty left his home and journeyed to Augusta in 1904 where he joined the Augusta Tourists (yes, Tourists) after a stint with the semi-pro team in Royston. Cut after 2 games, Cobb went to the Anniston Steelers then returned to the Tourists, where he became friends with Grantland Rice, a sports writer for the Atlanta Journal. Based on an article by Rice, interest in Ty Cobb soared. He was called up by the Detroit Tigers shortly after the death of his father in 1905.

First years in Major League Baseball

On August_30, 1905 Cobb took his first Major League at bat against future Hall of Fame pitcher "Happy Jack" Chesbro. Hitting a meager .240 in 150 at bats, it would be his lowest batting average in the majors.

The following year he became centerfielder for the Tigers and hit .320 in 97 games. In 1907, Ty Cobb's Tigers were engaged in an incredibly close 4-way race for the American League pennant with the A's, Indians and White Sox. Both the White Sox and Indians ran into trouble late in the season. The final series that year pitted the Tigers against Connie Mack's Athletics. Cobb belted a ninth inning out of the park home run to send the game into extra innings. In his next at bat (11th inning), the Georgia Peach struck a ground rule double, driving in the go-ahead run. Unfortunately, the A's recouped. When the game was called a tie in the 17th, the Tigers won the pennant anyway.

In the 1907 World Series the Tigers came up against the Chicago Cubs. Cobb did get a triple in Game 4, but the Tigers lost the Series 4-0-1. After winning the batting crown with a .350 average, Cobb struggled to hit .200 in the postseason.

As if it had been scripted, the Tigers once again faced fierce competition in the 1908 American League Pennant Race, this time from the White Sox. They won the pennant on October 6, their last game of the year, defeating the Chisox 7-0. Cobb again won the batting title, although he "only" hit .324 that year. In the first rematch of World Series champions, the Cubs once again beat the Tigers 4-1. Cobb led the Tiger regulars with a .368 batting average.

In a 1909 incident, young Ty Cobb spiked Frank "Home Run" Baker. After the incident, Connie Mack called Cobb "...the dirtiest player around." The Tigers won the American League pennant, and it looked as if Ty Cobb's team might win the World Series against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Babe Adams, a rookie pitcher and 4th starter in the Pittsburgh rotation, was tapped by Fred Clarke to toss the first game of the series in place of the Pirates ailing ace, Howard Camnitz. He finessed the Tigers, becoming the first pitcher to win three games in a World Series. During the Series Cobb stole home in the second game, igniting a three-run rally, but that was the high point for the Georgia Peach. He ended batting a lowly .231 in his last World Series.

Ty Cobb, the Georgia Peach
Ty Cobb baseball card

1910 Chalmers Award Controversy


In 1910 the batting title was called the Chalmers Award because the highest average won a Chalmers automobile
It has been described as an epic battle. Nap Lajoie, manager and star of the Cleveland Indians vs. Ty Cobb of the Detroit Tigers. Unlike Cobb, Lajoie was well-liked by his teammates and other players in the league. Throughout the season Cobb and Lajoie traded the lead, but in the last few days the Georgia Peach pulled solidly in front. The batting crown of 1910 came down to the final day and caused the sport of Major League Baseball its biggest scandal to date. Before the Sunday, October 9th doubleheader, St. Louis Browns manager Jack O' Conner told third baseman Red Corriden to play Lajoie deep, on the outfield grass, so that Corriden would not get hurt.

Lajoie, who tripled in his first at bat, laid down a string of bunts that resulted in 8 hits in 9 appearances (a fielder's choice did not count as an at bat). The performance failed to give Lajoie a victory over Cobb, who decided to sit out the final two games to preserve his average. It would be the third batting crown for Ty Cobb, who would continue to win the title 9 consecutive times.

Individual domination

For 24 years Ty Cobb dominated the game of baseball, although his dream of winning a World Series was never realized. His season-high batting average (.420, 1911) has been eclipse once. His stolen base record (96, 1915) would stand for until Maury Wills "stole" it in 1962. His bat control and fielding were as important to the dead ball era as Babe Ruth's home runs were to the long ball era. Still, the dark, intimidating Cobb exhibited a maniacal "win at all costs" mentality that alienated most of his fellow ball players. Cobb threw with his right hand, but trained himself to bat from the left side of the plate (it was a step closer to first). Choking up on the bat, Cobb was always willing to use his speed to beat out a bunt or pop a fly over a third baseman's head if the infielder was playing too close.

At the end of the 1911 baseball season the first Most Valuable Player award was made. Following the 1910 disaster, The Chalmers Company asked eight baseball writers (one from each city that had a pro team) to vote on the award. Cobb won hands down, defeating Pitcher Ed Walsh and second-baseman Eddie Collins. Cobb led the batting stats in every major category except home runs. Frank "Home Run" Baker hit 9, Cobb hit 8.

On May 15, 1912, Ty Cobb attacked Claude Lueker, a New York Highlander fan who had been verbally sparring with Cobb. In the third inning a particularly taunting remark, especially to a man who grew up in a segregated South, sent the outfielder on a rampage. He charged into the stands and viciously beat Lueker, who could not defend himself - he had lost a hand in an industrial accident. A. L. President Ban Johnson, who was at the game, suspended Cobb on the spot.

The other Tiger players, in support of Cobb, refused to play without him. Having anticipated this move, Detroit manager Hugh Jennings had semi-pro players ready to fill in. After losing 24-2 to the Philadelphia Athletics, the team was called together by Ban Johnson. He told them if they did not play their next game (against Washington), they would never play baseball again. The player reneged after being urged by Cobb not to strike.

On July_4, 1912 Ty Cobb stole three bases, including home plate, in the 5th inning against the Cleveland Browns. It was one of six times Cobb would perform this feat.

In 1914, Red Sox pitcher Dutch Leonard hit Cobb in the ribs with a fastball. In the next at bat, Cobb bunted the ball down the right side line. First baseman Clyde Engle covered the play, turning to toss the ball to Leonard just as Cobb spiked him. On May_31, 1917 Cobb began a 35 game hitting streak.

Walter Johnson had always been a challenging pitcher for Ty Cobb. Finally, Cobb noticed that Johnson carefully avoided throwing at a batter, so Cobb began to crowd the plate. His average against the Washington pitcher nearly doubled. Following the end of the 1920 baseball season, Ty Cobb signed to manage the Tigers.

Ty Cobb - Player / Manager

To say the least, signing Ty Cobb to manage the Detroit Tigers caught the baseball world off-guard. Universally disliked (even by the members of his own team) but a legendary player, Cobb's management style left a lot to be desired. He expected as much from his players as he gave, and most of the men did not meet his standard. The closest he came to winning the pennant race was in 1922, when the Tigers finished in second place. Cobb blamed his lackluster managerial record (479 wins-444 losses) on Detroit Tigers owner Frank Navin, who was a bigger skinflint than the Georgia Peach. Navin passed up a number of quality players that Cobb wanted to add to the team. In fact, Navin had saved money by hiring Cobb to manage the team.

In May, 1925, nearing the end of his career, Ty Cobb changed his swing for two games, holding the bat at the end rather than with his unique split hand grip. He hit five home runs in those two days.

At the end of 1925 Cobb was once again embroiled in a batting title race -- this time with one of his teammates and players, Harry Heilmann. In a doubleheader against the Cleveland Browns on October 4, Heilmann got six hits, leading the Tigers to a sweep of the doubleheader and beating Cobb for the batting crown, .393 to .389. Cobb and Browns manager George Sisler each pitched in the final game. Cobb pitched a perfect inning. Ty Cobb, though, began to slow down, first on the bases and later at the plate. Still, a slower Ty was more formidable than many quick rookies.

After retiring, pitcher Dutch Leonard produced letters in 1926 that implicated Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker and Joe Wood in a gambling scandal. American League President Ban Johnson turned the letters over to Kennesaw Mountain Landis, who secretly met with Speaker, Wood and Cobb. Following the meeting, Landis cleared the players of any wrongdoing.

Cobb moves to Philadelphia

In 1927 Cobb, who had quit as manager of the Tigers in the wake of the gambling scandal the previous November, moved to Philadelphia where he teamed with the legendary owner/manager and former nemesis Connie Mack. He returned to Detroit to quite a welcome on May_11, 1927. Cobb doubled in his first at bat, to the cheers of Tiger fans. In 1928, in a game against the New York Yankee, the combined line-up included 13 future Hall of Fame Players. On September 17, 1928 Ty Cobb retired, calling himself "baseball tired." The Athletics finished the year 2.5 games behind the league-leading Yankees with a 98-55 record.

Ty Cobb's Records

When Ty Cobb retired from baseball in 1928 he held many lifetime, annual and individual game records. Among his lifetime achievements he held records for the most at bats (11,434), hits (4191), stolen bases (892), and runs (2,245). His .367 lifetime batting average remains one of the records that may never be broken. Another Ty Cobb record that may never be broken is his nine consecutive years leading the American League in batting average.

Cobb was elected to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York in 1936. Only 4 baseball writers voted against him. He drew more votes that year than any other inductee including Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson. In 1950 Cobb was selected by the Sporting News as the most important player in the first fifty years of Major League Baseball. In the year 2000 he ended up Number 3 of the top 100 players of the first 100 years.

Cobb's final years

Sportsmen Ty Cobb and Bobby Jones share some time in Georgia
Bobby Jones and Ty Cobb in Georgia
After leaving baseball Ty Cobb lived mostly on the West Coast, although he did eventually return to Cornelia, Georgia. He endowed a number of charities, the best known being a string of hospitals in northeast Georgia - today known as the Ty Cobb Healthcare System. The Ty Cobb Museum, in Royston, is housed in one of these buildings.

Previously diagnosed with diabetes and cancer Ty Cobb died on a hot July day at the Emory Clinic in Atlanta, Georgia, surrounded by members of his family including his first wife. Ty Cobb was very wealthy when he died. He had been involved in promoting Coca-Cola and was an early investor in the company. This investment and others gave him an estate estimated at 12 million dollars.

More information:

In the 1930's a Civilian Conservation Corps camp in Royston, Georgia was named in honor of Ty Cobb.
Ty Cobb Timeline

County: Franklin County

Ty Cobb's hometown, Royston, GA




Directions


From Atlanta From the intersection of I-285 and I-85 northeast of Atlanta, take I-85 Northeast for 63.3 miles to exit 160(GA 51). Turn right on GA 51, which is locally known as Sandy Cross Road. Travel 9.9 miles to GA 145 and turn right. Continue for 1.2 miles to US 29. Turn right and you will be in Royston in 3 miles. To get to the Ty Cobb Museum in Royston, after 2.2 miles on US 29, turn right on Cook St. Follow this for .3 miles. The museum is on the right

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