This day in baseball: Cracker Jack prizes are introduced

The famous baseball game snack, Cracker Jack, introduced the idea of ‘A Prize in Every Box’ on February 19, 1912. As we all know, Cracker Jack is a sugar-coated mixture of popcorn and peanuts immortalized in baseball’s anthem, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” In 1914, the manufacturer inserted the first company-produced baseball card issue featuring major league players, including players from the short-lived Federal League.

1914 Ty Cobb Cracker Jack


Buck O’Neil on Ty Cobb

I vaguely recall hearing a reference to Buck O’Neil’s thoughts on Ty Cobb at some point, but this might be the first time I’ve ever seen this interview. My hat’s off to Buck — I don’t think I could be nearly so forgiving and compassionate if it were me in his shoes. I’m so glad this man is finally going to be inducted in the Hall of Fame.


This day in baseball: Tris Speaker and Ty Cobb cleared by Landis

On December 21, 1926, Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis dismissed a claim by Dutch Leonard alleging that Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker bet on a fixed game six years previous. The commissioner declared the matter closed, clearing both Speaker and Cobb of any wrongdoing when Leonard did not show up at a hearing to defend his accusations.

Landis_portrait-restored

Kenesaw Mountain Landis


Quote of the day

When I began playing the game, baseball was about as gentlemanly as a kick in the crotch.

~Ty Cobb

ty cobb


Cobb: A Biography, by Al Stump

I recently finished making my way through Al Stump’s biography on Ty Cobb, simply titled Cobb: A Biography. I am aware of the criticism this book has received — Stump, it seems, went out of his way to cast Cobb in a less-than-flattering light, even embellishing or making up stories as he did so. Nevertheless, I found this biography intriguing.

Cobb book cover

Al Stump had actually ghostwritten Ty Cobb’s autobiography, My Life in Baseball: The True Record. According to Stump, Cobb was far from being an easy individual to get along with, and there seems to be a consensus that Cobb’s autobiography had been sanitized considerably in order to paint Cobb in a better light. Stump claimed that his motivation for writing this biography after Cobb’s death was to share his own perception of the Georgia Peach. That being said, while it is widely-accepted that Cobb had many faults, this book reads like a revenge. In fact, the original title of this book, when it was first published in 1994, was Cobb: The Life and Times of the Meanest Man in Baseball. The current title actually belongs to a reworked and expanded edition of the book, published in 1996 after Stump’s death.

As a man, Stump paints Cobb as extremely combative, impossible to please, and unreasonably demanding. Clearly, Cobb’s life was a tortured one, what with the strange circumstances surrounding his father’s death when Cobb was still a young man, and his displeasure with the hand dealt him came out in his racism and in how he treated his own wife and children. On the other hand, Cobb the baseball player had an unmatched work ethic, demanding the best of himself as well as of those who played around him. Stump put a lot of focus also on the rivalry between Cobb and Babe Ruth, but in spite of the animosity between the two men, I also sensed a grudging respect between the two. In addition, Stump spent a lot of time exploring Cobb’s business ventures, investments, and his talent for making money.

As a reader, I confess to enjoying the journey through this book. The character of Cobb, as depicted in these pages, is a fascinating one. And while many of the stories in said pages have been discredited, no doubt their presence in the book is part of what makes it so fascinating. I have yet to read Cobb’s original autobiography, and while I’m at it, Charles Leerhsen’s 2016 biography, Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty, is also on the to-read list. It seems to me that one simply cannot read one without also delving into the other two — at least, not if one wants a truly well-rounded picture of the great Ty Cobb.


“Ty Cobb,” by Soundgarden

The members of Soundgarden readily admit that this song isn’t really about Ty Cobb at all, but rather, the song was written with myriad difficult individuals in mind. The lyrics still fit what we know about Cobb’s delightful personality, however, especially the repetition of the line, “Hard headed f— you all,” throughout the song. I don’t imagine Cobb would have cared for this genre of music, though I can easily imagine him jumping into the stands to go after a fan with this tune playing in the background.


Quote of the day

The greatness of Ty Cobb was something that had to be seen, and to see him was to remember him forever.

~George Sisler

George Sisler, Babe Ruth, and Ty Cobb (Wikimedia Commons)


RIP Lou Brock

Lou Brock spent the majority of his nineteen-year Major League career as a left fielder for the St. Louis Cardinals. Brock was best known for breaking Ty Cobb’s all-time stolen base record in 1977. He was a six-time All-Star, and he led the National League in stolen bases for eight seasons. Brock led the NL in doubles and triples in 1968, and in singles in 1972. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985.

Lou Brock passed away yesterday, September 6, 2020 at the age of 81.

RIP.

lou_brock_2005

Lou Brock as a coach in 2005 (wikipedia)


This day in baseball: Ty Cobb re-signs with the Tigers

On March 21, 1908, 21-year-old Ty Cobb re-signed with the Tigers for $4000, with an $800 bonus if he hit over .300 for the year.  Cobb finished the season with a league-leading .324 batting average with the Tigers.

ty cobb


Quote of the day

I had to fight all my life to survive. They were all against me… but I beat the bastards and left them in the ditch.

~Ty Cobb

Cobb

Baseball-fever.com