Among the upper-echelon players in the annals of Major League Baseball history, Ty Cobb spent 22 seasons with the Detroit Tigers before finishing his career with the Philadelphia Athletics. Nicknamed "The Georgia Peach", Cobb is credited with setting 90 MLB records during his famed career, and as of 2012 still holds the record for highest career batting average (.366) and most career batting titles (11). He retained many other records for almost a half century or more, including most career hits until 1985, most career runs until 2001,most career games played and at bats until 1974,and the modern record for most career stolen bases until 1977. Cobb's legacy as an athlete has sometimes been overshadowed by his surly temperament and aggressive playing style, which was described by the Detroit Free Press as "daring to the point of dementia."
Cobb was part of the Hall of Fame's charter class in 1936, and he received the most votes of any player on the inaugural ballot (222 out of a possible 226 votes).
I completed this sketch card in August 2012.
10 random facts about Ty Cobb:
- At age 20 in 1907, he became the youngest player to win a batting title, and would hold this record until 1955, when Al Kaline would win the American League batting crown.
- In the off-season between 1907 and 1908, Cobb negotiated with Clemson Agricultural College of South Carolina, offering to coach baseball there for $250 a month, provided that he did not sign with Detroit that season. This did not come to pass, however.
- Cobb won the 1909 AL Triple Crown by hitting .377 with 107 RBI and 9 homers.
- His AL-leading 9 homers in 1909 were all inside-the-park homers; he became the only player in the modern era to lead his league in homers without hitting a ball over the fence.
- On May 5, 1925, Cobb collected 16 total bases (three home runs, a double and two singles), setting a single-game AL record that has yet to be surpassed.
- A noted speedster, Cobb reached first base, stole second, stole third and then stole home 5 different times in his career.
- In September 1907, Cobb began a relationship with The Coca-Cola Company that would last the remainder of his life. By the time he died, he owned over 20,000 shares of stock and three bottling plants: one in Santa Maria, California; one in Twin Falls, Idaho; and one in Bend, Oregon. He was also a celebrity spokesman for the product.
- Cobb was often embroiled in controversy during his career. In 1907, he fought a groundskeeper over the condition of the Tigers' Spring Training field, and ended up choking the groundskeeper's wife when she intervened. In 1912, he assaulted a heckler in the stands who, unbeknownst to Cobb, was physically handicapped. Cobb was also involved in numerous other fights, both on and off the field, during his career.
- Cobb is the only player with two 35-game hitting streaks to his credit (he hit safely in 40 straight in 1911 and 35 straight in 1917).
- At the time of his death in 1961, Cobb's estate was reported to be worth at least $11.8 million (equivalent to $91.6 million today), including $10 million worth of General Motors stock and $1.78 million in The Coca-Cola Company stock.