Ty Cobb

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Ty Cobb : biography

18 December 1886 – 17 July 1961

It was also during his final years that Cobb began work on his autobiography, My Life in Baseball: The True Record, with writer Al Stump. Their collaboration was contentious, and after Cobb’s death Stump gave his side of the story in some of his other works, including the film Cobb. In 2010, an article by William R. "Ron" Cobb (no relation to Ty) in The National Pastime, official publication of the Society for American Baseball Research, accused Stump of extensive forgeries of Cobb-related documents and diaries. The article further accused Stump of numerous false statements about Cobb in his last years, most of which were sensationalistic in nature and intended to cast Cobb in an unflattering light.

Death

In his last days, Cobb spent some time with the old movie comedian Joe E. Brown, talking about the choices he had made in his life. He told Brown that he felt that he had made mistakes, and that he would do things differently if he could. He had played hard and lived hard all his life, had no friends to show for it at the end, and regretted it. Publicly, however, he claimed to have no regrets: "I’ve been lucky. I have no right to be regretful of what I did."

He checked into Emory Hospital for the last time in June 1961, bringing with him a paper bag with over $1 million in negotiable bonds and a Colt .45 caliber pistol.Stump (1994), p. 28 His first wife, Charlie, his son Jimmy and other family members came to be with him for his final days. He died a month later, on July 17, 1961, at Emory University Hospital.

Approximately 150 friends and relatives attended a brief service in Cornelia, Georgia, and drove to the Cobb family mausoleum in Royston for the burial. Baseball’s only representatives at his funeral were three old-time players, Ray Schalk, Mickey Cochrane and Nap Rucker, along with Sid Keener, the director of the Baseball Hall of Fame, but messages of condolences numbered in the hundreds. Family in attendance included Cobb’s former wife Charlie, his two daughters, his surviving son Jimmy, his two sons-in-law, his daughter-in-law Mary Dunn Cobb and her two children.

At the time of his death, Cobb’s estate was reported to be worth at least $11.780 million (equivalent to $ today), including $10 million worth of General Motors stock and $1.78 million in The Coca-Cola Company stock. His will left a quarter of his estate to the Cobb Educational Fund, and distributed the rest among his children and grandchildren. Cobb is interred in the Rose Hill Cemetery in Royston, Georgia. As of 2005, the Ty Cobb Educational Foundation has distributed nearly $11 million in scholarships to needy Georgians.

Legacy

He is regarded by some historians and journalists as the best player of the dead-ball era, and is generally seen as one of the greatest players of all time.

Efforts to create a Ty Cobb Memorial in Royston initially failed, primarily because most of the artifacts from his life were sent to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York and the Georgia town was viewed as too remote to make a memorial worthwhile. But ultimately, on July 17, 1998, the 37th anniversary of Cobb’s death, the Ty Cobb Museum and the Franklin County Sports Hall of Fame opened its doors in Royston. On that day, Cobb was one of the first members to be inducted into the Franklin County Sports Hall of Fame.

On August 30, 2005, his hometown hosted a 1905 baseball game to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Cobb’s first major league game. Players in the game included many of Cobb’s descendants as well as many citizens from his hometown of Royston. Another early-20th-century baseball game was played in his hometown at Cobb Field on September 30, 2006, with Cobb’s descendants and Roystonians again playing. Cobb’s personal batboy from his major league years was also in attendance, and threw out the first pitch.

Ty Cobb’s legacy also includes legions of collectors of his early tobacco card issues, as well as game used memorabilia and autographs. Perhaps the most curious item is a 1909 Ty Cobb Cigarettes pack, leaving some to believe Cobb either had, or attempted to have, his own brand of cigarettes. Very little about the card is known other than its similarity to the 1909 T206 Red Portrait card published by the American Tobacco Company, and until 2005 only a handful were known to exist. That year, a sizable cache of the cards was brought to auction by the family of a Royston, Georgia man who had stored them in a book for almost 100 years.. The new baseball stadium at Hampden-Sydney College is named Ty Cobb Ballpark.