Ty Cobb

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Ty Cobb : biography

18 December 1886 – 17 July 1961

The following season, the Tigers finished ahead of the Chicago White Sox for the pennant. Cobb again won the batting title with a .324 average. Despite another loss in the Series, he had something to celebrate. In August 1908, he married Charlotte ("Charlie") Marion Lombard, the daughter of prominent Augustan Roswell Lombard.Stump (1994), pp. 158-160 In the offseason, the couple lived on her father’s Augusta estate, The Oaks, until they moved into their own house on Williams Street in November 1913.

The Tigers won the American League pennant again in . During the Series, Cobb stole home in the second game, igniting a three-run rally, but that was the high point for him, finishing with a lowly .231 in his last World Series as the Tigers lost to Honus Wagner and the powerful Pirates in seven games. Although he performed poorly in the postseason, he won the Triple Crown by hitting .377 with 107 RBI and nine home runs, all inside the park, thus becoming the only player of the modern era to lead his league in home runs in a season without hitting a ball over the fence.

It was also in 1909 that Charles M. Conlon snapped the famous photograph of a grimacing Cobb sliding into third base amid a cloud of dirt, which visually captured the grit and ferocity of his playing style.

1910: Chalmers Award controversy

Going into the final days of the season, Cobb had an .004 lead on Nap Lajoie for the American League batting title. The prize for the winner of the title was a Chalmers automobile. Cobb sat out the final games to preserve his average. Lajoie hit safely eight times in a doubleheader, but six of those hits were bunt singles. This later came under scrutiny since it was rumored that the opposing manager had instructed his third baseman to play extra-deep to allow Lajoie intentionally to win the batting race over the generally-disliked Cobb. Although Cobb was credited with a higher batting average, it was later discovered that one game was counted twice so that Cobb actually lost to Lajoie.

As a result of the incident, American League president Ban Johnson was forced to arbitrate the situation. He declared Cobb the rightful owner of the title, but car company president Hugh Chalmers chose to award one to both Cobb and Lajoie.

1911 season and onward

Cobb regarded baseball as "something like a war," future Tiger second baseman Charlie Gehringer said. "Every time at bat for him was a crusade." Baseball historian John Thorn has said, "He is testament to how far you can get simply through will… Cobb was pursued by demons."

Cobb was having a tremendous year in , which included a 40-game hitting streak. Still, "Shoeless" Joe Jackson led him by .009 point in the batting race late in the season. What happened next is discussed in Cobb’s autobiography. Near the end of the season, Cobb’s Tigers had a long series against Jackson’s Cleveland Naps. Fellow Southerners Cobb and Jackson were personally friendly both on and off the field. Cobb used that friendship to his advantage. Whenever Jackson said anything to him, he would ignore him. When Jackson persisted, Cobb snapped angrily back at him, making him wonder what he could have done to enrage Cobb, who felt that it was these mind games that caused Jackson to "fall off" to a final average of .408, twelve points lower than Cobb’s .420, a twentieth-century record which stood until George Sisler tied it and Rogers Hornsby surpassed it with .424, the record since then except for Hugh Duffy’s .438 in the nineteenth century.

Cobb led the AL that year in numerous categories besides batting average, including 248 hits, 147 runs scored, 127 RBI, 83 stolen bases, 47 doubles, 24 triples and a .621 slugging percentage. The only major offensive category in which Cobb did not finish first was home runs, where Frank Baker (J. Franklin "Home Run" Baker of the Philadelphia Athletics) hit eleven to Cobb’s eight. He was awarded another Chalmers car, this time for being voted the AL MVP by the Baseball Writers Association of America.