Official Site for

TY COBB MUSEUM Royston, Georgia

Tyrus R. Cobb
Biography

2019
OFFICIAL BIOGRAPHY OF TYRUS R. COBB
       Ty Cobb, the greatest performer in baseball history, the game’s most competitive and prolific record architect, the American symbol of athletic perfection, a brilliant business financier, a devoted family man who carved out the best and most cultural surroundings for his domestic lineage. Cobb was a philanthropist that enabled educational dreams to come true for thousands of Georgia student desirous of a university education and a charitable giant who envisioned a better healthcare arrangement for mankind in north Georgia – a competitive, yet extremely generous, baseball legend!
       The inception of this great legend began on December 18, 1886 on a modest, rural plantation owned by his maternal grandparents, Caleb & Sisely Chitwood. The Chitwood home was located in the Narrows of Banks County, near Baldwin, Georgia at the foothills of the northeast Georgia mountains.
       Tyrus Cobb was the first child of Professor Herschel & Amanda Cobb. Amanda was not yet sixteen when she produced her first offspring. The young mother gave birth to another son, John Paul Cobb in 1889 while the family was living in Dahlonega. A daughter, Florence Leslie Cobb, was born in 1892. The father Cobb enrolled in North Georgia Agriculture College in Dahlonega, Georgia with three of Amanda’s four brothers in 1887 and the intelligent orator graduated with first honors with a bachelor’s degree in June of 1892. He was also a champion debater there representing the Decora Palaestra Society.
       After graduating from the Royston High School in 1904, the young Ty Cobb left Royston for Augusta, Georgia to debut for the Tourist of the South Atlantic League. After a two – game debut in professional baseball, he was released from the club. He played a short stint with Anniston Steelers of the Southeastern League. After they disbanded in the middle of July, he played for the Tri-City Boys of Sheffield, Alabama and returned to the Augusta lineup on August 9th.
       After completing most of the 1905 season for the Tourist and batting .326 in 370 at bats, he was bought by the Detroit Tigers for a small amount of $750.00 personally paid for by Manager Bill Armour. Cobb made his Major League Baseball debut on August 30, 1905 and quickly excelled to the pinnacle of baseball stardom. His burst on the scene took everyone by storm. No one could believe that this youngster from the heart of the south would be able to maintain his speed of play.
       In his first year in the majors, he batted .240 and secured 36 hits in 150 trips to the plate in only forty-one games. But he batted .320 the following year and that led the Tigers’ roster and placed him fifth among American League batting stars.
       His first professional eureka moment came early in his 1907 season as the Tiger star became a celebratory hit in Detroit and elsewhere in the junior circuit. Thanks to the free reign gifted to him by his new manager, Hugh Jennings, he was winning more fame than ever bestowed on an athlete before or since. Fans everywhere had never been captivated the same way Cobb impressed individuals as a professional athlete and as a person. He was becoming so famous that he had to learn how to channel his fame towards an immortal legacy. It seemed like fame for Cobb was instant and perpetual for the young boy of only twenty summers. He, like most notable Americans, had only a handful of critics that unknowingly believed that his energy for baseball would have to soon burn itself out. This was sentiments that only a handful of writers were able to put into words, but realistically, it would not unravel to meet their vision.
       By the end of 1907, Ty Cobb would win his first of nine consecutive batting titles and twelve over the course of twenty-four seasons in Major League Baseball. He led the Detroit Tigers to their very first world series through a seventeen-inning tie with the Philadelphia Athletics in late September. He hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to tie the score. This game remained tied and a few days later, the Tigers clinched the pennant. At the end of the season, Ty Cobb was awarded a diamond studded gold pennant for winning his first batting championship with a .350 average. He would never bat less than .320 in any season again – ever!
       In 1908, his fame became ever increasing and celebrity endorsements were offered to him weekly such as Coca-Cola, sporting goods and various apparel companies. His presence on the baseball diamond became more and more effective and his competitive zeal became overpowering to most of his opponents. Despite all his hard work and practice, that year was a flagship season for pitchers and Cobb managed to only hit .324 with 188 hits in 581 plate appearances. Still, the Tigers returned to the World Series and his average was enough to lead the league in hitting for another season.
       The following year was significantly different on the offensive side of the ball and Cobb’s hitting saw an increase of over fifty points and he won his second stolen base record for the season with 76 for 1909. His passion for baseball grew more prevalent and his keenness for hitting the ball in open lanes seemed more natural than ever. He raised his batting to .377 and played in all 156 games. It was the same year he won the triple crown and the Tigers returned to the world series forum for a third straight year losing to Honus Wagner and the Pittsburgh Pirates in seven games.
       By 1911, Cobb had won fame never seen by any athlete and his name and image was a wholesome household name. He won the Chalmers award for the third consecutive season and wrote to company President Hugh Chalmers requesting to remove his name from the competition so as to give other American League players a chance to win the car. A generous gesture characteristic of the young Georgian.
       Cobb batted .420 in 1911 and won the MVP that year and batted .410 in 1912. By this time, he was already batting a career average of .367 and after twenty-four years in professional baseball, that would be his final lifetime batting average.
       His first major league manager said of him, "He is not only the greatest ball player in the world," said Bill Armour, "but he is baseball's premier drawing card." Honus Wagner, the great shortstop of the Pittsburg Pirates said of Cobb, "Cobb is a great ball player, one of the greatest I ever saw. Cobb is a fine fellow."
       In 1915, Cobb stole 96 bases in one season. He continued to win the batting title each year from 1907-1915. Tris Speaker beat him out in 1916 and Cobb congratulated his old friend on his success as a batting warrior. However, Cobb came back the following year and won the title again with an average of .383. Cobb won in 1918 with .382 and won again in 1919 with an average of .384. He batted .334 in 1920 and .389 in 1921 and took second place in the batting standings for both years.
       “The thing that always impressed me most about Ty’s playing is the speed in which he gets away to the bases,” recalled Mrs. Amanda Cobb, Ty’s mother who was a big fan, “when he hits the ball, I have noticed that he is always about three or four steps towards first base before his bat hits the ground. He makes a lot of hits by beating out infield hits.”
       On December 16, 1920, Cobb met with Detroit Tigers owner, Frank J. Navin, and with great reluctance, agreed to manage the Tigers in 1921. His record as a manager has been opened to judgment, but no one can deny that the development of his players was second-to-none - remarkable. He never could land the right pitchers to get the Tigers over the hump. The Detroit Tigers finished next-to-last place in 1920. Under Ty Cobb’s leadership, they finished 3rd twice, and 2nd once and established the highest team batting average for any season with .316 in 1921.
     While Cobb was manager, a Tiger hitter won the American League batting title four of his six years of instruction. Harry Heilmann won in 1921, 1923 and 1925 and Heinie Manush won it in 1926. Cobb could teach hitting in a way that made it stick, but did 
 

not have the pitching staff to get them into the fall classic. Cobb won 577 and lost 544 games for a 5.19 winning percentage. Not bad for a country from the hills of northeast Georgia!
       On August 29, 1925, Detroit and the rest of Major League Baseball celebrated twenty years of Ty Cobb at the Book Cadillac Hotel. Every important baseball figure was in attendance. Ban Johnson, president and founder of the American League, praised Cobb, "Ty Cobb has done more for baseball than any single individual that has ever lived, the game owes him more than it will ever realize!"
       On November 3rd, 1926, Ty Cobb announced his resignation from the Detroit Tigers. He signed with the great manager in Philadelphia, Connie Mack, for the upcoming season. He batted .357 in 1927 with 175 hits in 490 at bats and completed the season in far above average fashion. It was a year he had contracted with the Philadelphia Athletics as the highest paid player in Major League Baseball to date.
       Connie Mack was trying to build a pennant winner and paying Cobb that much money was imperative for many reasons. He helped many players on the Athletics raise their batting averages more than fifty points in the first season he was on the team. That alone was worth the $80,000 contract he was paid. But Connie Mack needed more talent and Ty Cobb took a lower salary in 1928 so that Mack could secure the players that the team needed. Hitting and fielding marvel, Tris Speaker, joined the team in 1928 and the team did make more progress finishing a couple games behind the New York. The Yankees beat St. Louis four straight games in the 1928 world series.
       On September 11, 1928, Cobb played his last game in Major League Baseball. He announced his retirement on the 17th of September in Cleveland. “Never again after the finish of the present pennant race will I be an active player in the game to which I have devoted twenty-four years of what for me was hard labor,” said the game’s greatest player and drawing card. “Baseball is the greatest game in the world, and I owe all that I possess with the way of worldly goods to this game,” claimed the famed Georgia Peach who was still only 41 years old.
       His retirement speech failed to mention what the great ambassador to baseball had accomplished over the last twenty-four seasons as an active player. However, it would be stamped as a mark every athlete would try to duplicate or emulate in some part or fashion. “It has been my privilege to have played twenty years along with him and to have his feats and deeds as an ideal to aspire to emulate,” said Philadelphia’s second baseman Eddie Collins.
       In February 1936, Ty Cobb was the first player inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. He received more votes than Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson and Honus Wagner. The Baseball Writers Association cast 222 of 226 votes in favor of the game’s most dominating star. He was the first player voted into the game’s immortal shrine.
       On Sunday January 22, 1950, Ty Cobb stood on a platform outside of a newly bricked building and dedicated the Cobb Memorial Hospital in memory of his parents, Herschel and Amanda Cobb. The Ty Cobb Healthcare System, Inc. catered to the healthcare needs of the people of north Georgia for 68 years and the legacy continues through the St. Mary’s Sacred Heart Hospital in Lavonia, Georgia.
       On November 29, 1953, Ty Cobb established the Ty Cobb Education Foundation to give scholarships to needy students in Georgia. “We want stars,” claimed the Georgia philanthropist. “We want stars in law, medicine, teaching and in life.” The foundation has given over 17.5 million dollars to educating Ty Cobb’s stars in Georgia.
        Ty remained close to the game until he died on Monday July 17, 1961. He was buried with baseball honors at his Cobb Mausoleum located in the Rose Hill Cemetery on the outside of Royston. Cobb finally made it home in Royston where he harbored big dreams as a young boy and became struck with a fascination for the game he loved so much – baseball.
       The Cobb family requested a private service to be held in his honor. Many of Cobb’s contemporaries had already departed. Mickey Cochran, Nap Rucker, Ray Schalk and Baseball Hall of Fame Director, Sid Keener, were the only members of baseball given direct invitation to attend Cobb’s last rites. Hundreds of current and former players sent telegrams and letters of condolences.
       New York manager, Casey Stengel, in his determined and vibrant personality gave Cobb the finest tribute an old friend could share, “He was the greatest man I ever saw in my time in baseball.” Bing Miller delivered his own testimonial homage for Cobb, “He has more spirit to win than anyone I have ever met.”
       “Oh, he was a great one,” said Steve O’Neil. “The best baseball player in the world has died,” claimed Bill Terry. Ford Frick remarked, “Cobb represented the typical spirit of baseball we knew as youngsters.” Dallas businessman, Hyman Pearlstone, traveled regularly to Philadelphia to watch the Athletics and Cobb play remembered, “He was the best!”
        Frank “Homerun” Baker echoed his peers, “Cobb was baseball’s greatest player.” Bill Benswanger, former Pittsburg Pirates’ owner saluted the Georgia Peach, “He was a swell guy, I always liked him. I wish there were more ballplayers like him.” Hall of Famer and former Tigers teammate Sam Crawford said, “His death is a great loss to baseball.” Crawford who spent fifteen years in the same outfield expressed his admiration for Cobb. “We were friends. He was one of the greatest of all ball players.”
       St. Louis’ Hall of Famer, George Sisler, called Cobb a great batter, a great baserunner and a great competitor. “He gave it everything he had. Off the field, however, he was a friendly fellow who was always going out of his way to do things for others.” Good friend and Dodgers concession chief, Danny Goodman, confessed that Cobb sent him money for former players living in the Los Angeles area, “Over the years, he sent me several thousand dollars he wanted distributed anonymously to indigent ball players around Los Angeles he had known in the old days.”   
       “He was the greatest,” claimed Fred Haney, Los Angeles Angels’ general manager, “He was so far ahead of everyone else that there was no comparison.” Ray Schalk claimed, “In my book, Cobb was the greatest of the great.”
       “Baseball and the Detroit Tigers owe more to Ty Cobb than either of them will ever be able to repay,” says Tigers’ President, John Fetzer. And finally, Georgia’s Governor, Ernest Vandiver, illuminated all the other acclamations with one of his own, “His ability and his example of sportsmanship will be remembered as long as the game of baseball is played.”  
       Thirty-seven years to the date, the current Ty Cobb Museum opened with a strict mission to promote and celebrate the accomplishments of baseball’s most celebrated athlete and record-breaking player. His lifetime batting average of .367 will always stand as an ideal for young baseball players to strive for. To Ty Cobb, that seemed to be how he wanted to be remembered.
       The future of Ty Cobb’s legacy lives here at the Ty Cobb Museum in Royston, Georgia. The records he left behind are so magnificent that some are still at the top of the record books. His lifetime batting average of .367 is still at the very top and may be unbreakable. His career hits total of 4,191 remains at the top of the American League list of hitters. His lifetime base steals of 892 are third among Major League Baseball players. His 12 batting titles are second-to-none and his 54 steals of home may carry on through eternity. He was a genius on the baseball diamond and a prince among the men who knew him and an inspiration to young athletes the world over. Baseball was and still is a resonation of Ty Cobb.
 

Tyrus R. Cobb

December 18, 1886  -  July 17, 1961
Biography courtesy of the Ty Cobb Museum, Royston, Georgia.