Essay, Research Paper: Ty Cobb


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Ty Cobb was the greatest baseball player that has ever lived, he also was the
most influential on other baseball players. Who was Ty Cobb and what was his
impact throughout the 20’s? I propose to show his importance to baseball by
giving examples of his determination to get to where he got to as a baseball
player. Through the lessons and morals of hard work that his father had taught
Ty as a boy, he was able to become a great hard-working baseball player.
Although his personal life may not have been good at all, the way he played
baseball earned himself a 24 season playing career in the American league, a
batting record for runs scored of 2,245, runs batted in of 1,937, a record of
892 stolen bases, and his record of a batting average of .366 has still not been
beaten. His record of 96 stolen bases in one season in 1915 was not beaten until
1962. Most people say Ty Cobb was a jerk, which is partially true, I even agree
somewhat, but there was a soft side to Ty, “I was called a radical, a despot,
a bad loser, a dirty player, and worse. Some of these words still hurt.”
(Cobb, 280) However, no one can deny his ability to play baseball. He took it
one step further than anyone else did at that time. He showed that it was not a
sport for people who were not rough, or did not want to be hit, or that there
was any chance to be hurt somehow. He saw baseball as a great game of
intelligence and athleticism. When I played baseball I didn’t play for fun. To
me it wasn’t Parcheesi played under parchesi rules. Baseball is a red-blooded
sport for red-blooded men. It’s no pink tea, and mollycoddles had better stay
out. It’s a contest and everything implies, a struggle for supremacy, a
survival of the fittest. Every man in the game from the minors on up, is not
only fighting against the other side, but he’s trying to hold onto his own job
against those on his own bench who’d love to take it away. Why deny this? Why
minimize it? Why not boldly admit it? (Cobb, 280) Body: Tyrus Raymond Cobb was
born on December 18, 1886 in Royston, Georgia to a fifteen-year-old mother named
Amanda Chitwood. Ty’s father, William Herschel Cobb, was 23. They were married
in 1883. William bought a 100-acre farm to supplement what he got for teaching
school. This is where Ty grew up and where his father taught him the values of
hard work and intensity. When Ty’s father saw that Ty was good at farming and
did not mind working, the two grew closer. Baseball was played very different
then, from the way it is played now. “It was as gentlemanly as a kick in the
crotch” (Cobb, 42) Ty spent a lot of his time playing baseball although his
father disapproved. He says he started playing because he loved the competition,
the battle of muscle and wits. When Ty was younger, he used to wind yarn around
a small ball and make himself a baseball, then for the price of a few errands
would find a leather maker that would make a cover for the ball. He played cow
pasture baseball when he was 11 and 12 but had no ambition to make a career out
of playing baseball. “…The new kid in town who owned a hittable ball could
overcome social obstacles faster than a boy who didn’t.” (Cobb, 17) When Ty
was not working on the farm with his father, he was playing baseball. William
didn’t like Ty playing baseball; he thought that Ty would become an alcoholic
and a womanizer like the stereotype of baseball Stevenson, 4 players back then.
When Ty was 17, he went to his father for permission to go try out for the South
Atlantic League team in Augusta. William hesitated, but let Ty go so he could
find that he didn’t really want to be a baseball player, and would come back
to be a doctor, lawyer, or military man. This is what he said to Ty, “You’ve
chosen. So be it, son. Get it out of your system, and let us hear from you.”
(Cobb, 45) William sent Ty off with six checks for $15 each and wished him luck.
An early sign that Ty was to become a professional baseball player was how hard
he played. “I was a man who saw no point in losing, if I could win.” (Cobb,
280) He would play every chance he got, practicing his hitting skills, and
keeping in shape by working on the farm back home. One thing that he developed
while playing “town ball” is the way he held the baseball bat. He would
choke up on the bat more than anyone else, creating his own style of hitting and
playing. After playing for the South Atlantic team for a while, he broke into
his professional career playing for the Detroit Tigers in 1905 at the age of 18.
There he would stay for his full 24-season playing career. In 1921 after the
manager Hugh Jennings retired, Ty Cobb became the Detroit Tiger’s manager, but
he kept playing and directed his team from the outfield. While playing for
Augusta, he was bought for the Detroit Tigers for $700 thanks to manager Bill
Armour. He made his first major league Stevenson, 5 appearance on August 30,
1905 playing center field. On his first turn at bat he hit a game-winning double
off of Jack Chesbro, one of the leading pitchers of that time. In 1907, he got
his first three records out of over 90 after Bill Armour retired and Ty became a
regular outfielder. In 1911, Ty got his highest batting average of his career of
.420. (Kossuth, online) Ty also was famous for not only his physical abilities
at baseball but also his psychological playing. He was the first baseball player
to study the psychology of pitchers. He practiced the “war of nerves” method
of getting on base. “I always try to keep the other team on their toes, so
they won’t know where the ball is going, my attack is directed at the third
baseman, I try to worry him” (Current Biography 1951, 112) Usually people
saying anything about Ty did not bother him, like about the way he played.
Although in 1912 he went into the stands and administered “physical
punishment” on an abusive and cruel spectator, who turned out to have no
hands. For this, he was given and indefinite banishment from baseball. The ban
only lasted 10 days. Detroit “regulars” went on strike and refused to play
without him. Mostly because of weak pitching, the Tigers dropped to seventh
place in 1921. In 1922, he managed his team to third. In addition, in 1923 he
got them to second. This was the best he did and in 1926, after Stevenson, 6 the
Tiger’s dropped to sixth place when manager George Moriarty replaced him.
(Current Biography 1951, 112 Ty finished out his career with Connie Mack’s
Philadelphia Athletics, for when he played two seasons. When he retired at the
end of 1928, he had played in 3,033 professional games, more than anyone else on
record. When the first balloting for the Baseball Hall of Fame took place in
1936, Ty Cobb received more votes than Babe Ruth. Ty Cobb was the first plaque
to be placed in the gallery of baseball immortals at Cooperstown, New York. He
retired with 4,191 major league hits. As a memorial to his parents, Ty donated
$100,000 in 1948 for the erection of a modern hospital in his hometown. (Current
Biography 1951, 113) On July 17, 1961, a month after checking himself into Emory
Hospital, with a paper bag filled with around $1 million dollars and his Lugar
pistol, he died in his sleep. Although most of his family did not like him, they
did go to see him in his final days. In his will he took a quarter of his $11
million dollars and donated it to the Cobb Educational Fund, and the rest to his
children and grandchildren. If Ty Cobb had left an effect on society, it would
have been one of mixed feelings. Angry, sad, lonely, hard working, caring, and
pleased with how his life had turned out. People interpret things that he did
differently, he had a temper, but he is not the only one in the world with one.
In 1996 Stevenson, 7 a band called Soundgarden wrote a song about the famous Ty
Cobb, It is an angry song and one of their only songs where there is any
swearing in the lyrics, so the effect that the band saw of him was probably not
good, but I’m sure they saw, like most people should, that he was an overall
good person deep down, though it was rarely shown. In the last words of his
autobiography Ty writes; Edgar Guest, one of my favorite poets, wrote: For man
must live his life on earth, Where hate and sin and wrong abound. ‘Tis here
the soul must prove it’s worth, ‘Tis here the strength of it is found, And
he had justified his birth Who plants one rose on barren ground. I sit on a
Georgia hill, or by a shimmering California Mountain lake, and am happy. The
pain that may attack my flash is eased in so many ways. I commune often with my
God. I ask him to guide me in all my decisions. Every young fellow should do the
same. It will leave him strong, confident, and able to fight for what he clearly
sees is right. The book I once believed that I never would write is finished.
End of game, inning, and time at bat. (Cobb, 282)

BibliographyStump, Al, Cobb, Ty. My Life in Baseball-The True Record. Garden City, New
York: Doubleday & Co., 1961 Rothe, Anna, ed. “Ty Cobb” Current
Biography. New York: H.W. Wilson Company, 1951. “Ty: The Early Years.”
(Online) Available Http://, 2/8/2000.
“Aggressive play defined Ty Cobb.” (Online) available,
2/8/2000. Encyclopedia Britannica online. “Cobb, Ty.” (Online) available, 2/8/2000.
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