by Alan Ross
He was the greatest player in baseball in the pre-Babe Ruth era, so dominating the game during this time that historians would refer to his 24-year major league career from 1905-28, all but the last two seasons with Detroit, as the “Cobbian game.”
Tyrus Raymond Cobb, despite his family’s objections signed a semi-pro contract with Augusta in 1904. It was during a Sally League game while with Augusta―where the Tigers also trained each spring―that Cobb, from Narrows, Georgia, in the Empire State of the South, was named “The Georgia Peach” by legendary sportswriter Grantland Rice. It was a tag that Cobb was said to have worn proudly.
In his unmatchable career with Detroit, Cobb was a 12-time American League batting champion—nine times in a row—and for 23 straight seasons batted over .300, a major league record that will likely stand forever. In all, Cobb is credited with setting 90 major league records during his career. Three times he batted over .400, his career best a .420 in 1911.
The cantankerous Cobb was also known for his surly temperament and aggressive all-out play, which invariably led to skirmishes, even with teammates.
But for all the honors, awards and titles, Cobb never won a world championship, the only thing lacking in his gleaming resume. He was a charter member of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936, the fourth highest vote-getter in history. No less than Casey Stengel, a scrappy 14-year National League outfielder for five teams in the 1910s and ’20s before becoming the successful manager of the New York Yankees, said of Cobb, “I never saw anyone even close to him. He was the greatest all time ballplayer. That guy was superhuman, amazing.”
Alan Ross is the author of 32 books, including Echoes from the Ballpark.
E-mail him at: email@example.com