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Ty Cobb and the Telegram

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  • Ty Cobb and the Telegram

    I've read several times that when Ty Cobb and Nap Lajoie were vying for the American League batting title in 1910 that eight of Cobb's Detroit teammates sent Lajoie a congratulatory telegram when it was thought that Lajoie had finished first.

    Is there any hard, substantial evidence that this is, in fact, the case? This is a fascinating story and, if true, would speak volumes about Cobb and his relationship with his teammates.

    If true, who were the teammates? I have seen Sam Crawford being mentioned as one but no others. Also, what are the sources?

    Any information is appreciated.
    Last edited by Bill Burgess; 08-05-2012, 04:59 PM.

  • #2
    Perhaps it would speak volumes about Cobb's teammates as well.

    I have a hard time getting past the treatment Cobb got as a young man by his older Tiger teammates. Much older men and even a trained boxer, by the way, that goaded and physically attacked him when he was a teenager. The kind of guys I think many here would hesitate to have their son associate with. Yet, Cobb is the one always under question. I do have to wonder.


    • #3
      One's choices are one's own: Cobb's actions after these events were up to him and him alone. If he'd wanted the world to see him different, he should have considered behaving different.

      Just my 2 cents...


      • #4
        When all your teammated want you gone, physically harm you, do anything they can to drive you away, would you really wanna change for the better? And there was some unity between Cobb and his teammates, at least for a little bit, when Cobb got suspended for beating up the guy with no hands, the entire team striked. So there was a little bit of respect for him.
        "I don't like to sound egotistical, but every time I stepped up to the plate with a bat in my hands, I couldn't help but feel sorry for the pitcher."
        -Rogers Hornsby-

        "People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring."
        -Rogers Hornsby-

        Just a note to all the active members of BBF, I consider all of you the smartest baseball people I have ever communicated with and love everyday I am on here. Thank you all!


        • #5
          If you're interested in 1910 batting race, I'd recommend reading Cobb's autobiography, not for any factual details but to get an insight into how he dealt emotionally with what must have been a deeply humiliating event -- a sensitive young man revealed to all the world as so profoundly unpopular among his peers.

          Cobb clearly just had an extraordinary effect on people. Think about what happened in 1910. No doubt it's wise to ask for hard evidence his teammates were really rooting for Lajoie, but for them to do so would be to some extent understandable, because they had to live with him every day for six months, and an abrasive personality is going to be difficult to take under those circumstances. But Harry Howell and Jack O'Connor, the Browns' personnel who tried to arrange for Lajoie to win the title, didn't have to deal with him on a regular basis, and yet they were willing to spend their own money and, as it turned out, hazard their baseball careers, manipulating a game not as any sort of Hal Chase-style financial speculation but simply out of a disinterested willingness to sacrifice their own interests for the sheer joy of spiting Ty Cobb. I don't say it was defensible behavior, in fact, it was downright childish, but nobody provoked that kind of reaction like Cobb.

          It was a rough age, but people mostly got along somehow. I would guess Cobb was treated no differently than all the Tiger players had themselves been treated, but he responded very differently. As people couldn't help me react to him, so Cobb strikes me as a bull that couldn't resist charging at every piece of red cloth that was waved anywhere in his vicinity.

          According to what I've always read, by the way, the beating by Charlie Schmidt was not just an ordinary bit of hazing crossing the line into sadism, but was provoked by Cobb's assault on the wife of a groundskeeper.
          “Money, money, money; that is the article I am looking after now more than anything else. It is the only thing that will shape my course (‘religion is nowhere’).” - Ross Barnes


          • #6
            To address the OP, I've never seen any hard evidence to confirm the story one way or the other. I have little doubt it was stitched from the same whole cloth that comprises the murder, Mickey Cochrane, "black groundskeeper" (yes, that one seems to be fanciful, as well), and such tales surrounding Cobb.
            A swing--and a smash--and a gray streak partaking/Of ghostly manoeuvres that follow the whack;/The old earth rebounds with a quiver and quaking/And high flies the dust as he thuds on the track;/The atmosphere reels--and it isn't the comet--/There follows the blur of a phantom at play;/Then out from the reel comes the glitter of steel--/And damned be the fellow that gets in the way.                 A swing and a smash--and the far echoes quiver--/A ripping and rearing and volcanic roar;/And off streaks the Ghost with a shake and a shiver,/To hurdle red hell on the way to a score;/A cross between tidal wave, cyclone and earthquake--/Fire, wind and water all out on a lark;/Then out from the reel comes the glitter of steel,/Plus ten tons of dynamite hitched to a spark.

            --Cobb, Grantland Rice


            • #7
              Originally posted by FNBBOBBHIS View Post
              I've read several times ...

              I have seen Sam Crawford being mentioned as one but no others. Also, what are the sources?.
              Which are your sources?


              • #8
                There is an article in the November 3,1910 issue of the New Castle News, New Castle Pa., pg 11, in which Sam Crawford mentions the disharmony on the Tigers because of Cobb. He says that he, Donnie Bush and Cobb were not on speaking terms and blames Hughie Jennings for giving Cobb too much "leeway".


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Cubsfan97 View Post
                  When all your teammated want you gone, physically harm you, do anything they can to drive you away, would you really wanna change for the better? And there was some unity between Cobb and his teammates, at least for a little bit, when Cobb got suspended for beating up the guy with no hands, the entire team striked. So there was a little bit of respect for him.
                  I guess nothing will earn you the respect of your peers like beating up a guy with no hands.
                  They call me Mr. Baseball. Not because of my love for the game; because of all the stitches in my head.


                  • #10
                    I guess dressing up as Captain Hook for Halloween and going to Mr. Cobbs home would be a bit risky.


                    • #11
                      I'm guessing showing up at Cobb's door unannounced for any reason would have been risky.
                      They call me Mr. Baseball. Not because of my love for the game; because of all the stitches in my head.


                      • #12
                        If he had a dog, do you think he'd name him Spike?


                        • #13
                          Gee, I should feel right at home here. Ty Cobb was my primary research subject for many, many years. So much in fact, that several years ago, in February, 2004, I took it upon myself to chronicle several of the major controversies of his career. I whare-house them in my Ty Cobb/Assorted Historical Topics thread.

                          But to tell you the truth, I have long ago moved on from Ty. Some of my friends kidded me that I might receive small stipend monthly payments from the Cobb family for my staunch defense of Ty. If only!!

                          But for several years now, my obsession has been baseball photos and sports writers, which has received the lion's share of my attention since I first introduced my Historical, Archival Photographs in March, 2006.

                          But as I look back on old Tyrus, I think I might have evolved a bit on him. He was somewhat unbalanced, and never, EVER, let anyone walk on him or take advantage. Some of it was the very feudal behavior ways of the Old South. It was very much similar to Old Japan, where everything was always brought back to 'Family Honor'.

                          Anyone looked at you wrong, or your sister wrong, and it required 'extreme over-reaction' to 'save the family honor'. Sadly, that kind of thinking made trivial, innocent stuff a 'dramatic showdown'. Like a shoot-out from High Noon. Crazy.

                          But if you think I'm kidding, just consider the implications from this historical fact. When Ty's Dad suspected his wife of unfaithfulness, and he tried to sneak up on their house to catch her in the act, to see if the local rumors were true, Ty's Mom shot him dead! She didn't hesitate, or prevaricate. She had a gun and knew how to use it. She didn't realize it was her husband sinking to extreme behavior. She felt an intruder was preparing to invade her home and the possibility that he might be armed had to be assumed!

                          Those Cobbs were not trifling folks. They were not to be messed with. Talk to them and you'd better talk straight and be well-intentioned and simple.

                          That is one of the reasons that when the 1906 Tigers tried to drive Cobb off the team, and deny his family the income thereby, he wasn't about to back off. His entire persona was still somewhat unhinged by the fact that his own Mom had killed his Dad!! And the family was in very real danger of losing their family homestead. He just wasn't in a position to let that financial opportunity pass by without a real fight to stay on that team. All his early money was sent home to save the family homestead.

                          So, with that long-winded prelude, I sincerely hope you enjoy my article below. Enjoy.
                          One of the things that one runs into in baseball discussion groups is that Ty Cobb never had a friend in baseball. This perception is so common that it manifests itself in many ways.

                          "His own team mates all hated him. He couldn't get along with anybody. He was just a jerk. He was a vicious psycho. Etc., etc., etc. So I thought I'd try to remove some of the distortions and present a more positive, balanced presentation of the story. Hope you can dig it.

                          Did All of Ty Cobb's Team Mates Hate Him?
                          One of the accepted axioms of Ty Cobb's public persona is that all his baseball team mates hated him. One runs into this "truth" constantly. This perceived "truth" is so universally accepted that few, if any, take the trouble to investigate further. And while there is a lot of "truth" in that belief, there is also a very interesting, deeper story interwoven with it, that bears a re-telling. As usual, there are 2 sides, and often more, to every story. And also, as usual, the truth is often more interesting, than the sloppily-cobbled together distortions.

                          Let's go slow. When Ty arrived in Detroit on August 30, 1905, he was 18 yrs., 8 months old. He was 6'1, 160 lbs., optimistic, eager to please. It had only been 3 weeks, since his mother had accidentally killed his father, on August 9, 1905. So, his emotional balance was precarious, to say the least. Since it was understood that he was only called up as a temporary replacement for injured OF, Jimmy Barrett, Ty wasn't seen as threatening anyone else's job. He only got into 41 games, and hit .240. in 39 games in CF, 2 in LF. Looked to all as if he was simply just another one of thousands of undistinguished rookies, who would not be seen or heard from again. So, 1905 passed without incident, nor harassment.

                          That winter, the Tigers sent Barrett to the Reds, acquired OF Davey Jones, and extended an invitation to young Cobb to attend their spring training tryouts. That meant that he'd have to compete with Crawford, Jones and McIntyre for an OF slot. And that was where his problems began.

                          When Ty arrived at spring training, March 9, 1906, at Augusta, GA, he was not looking for any trouble, but neither was he in any frame of mind to take anything off of anyone else, seasoned vet or not.

                          If Ty could have seen what the season held for him, he'd have wanted to turn around & boarded the train back to Royston. But that option wasn't one he could exercise. His father's unexpected death had left the family in dire straights.

                          At the age of 18, the responsibilities of the family fell squarely on his shoulders. He had to stay on the Tigers, make the team, and start sending payments back home. His mother was in real jeopardy of losing the family homestead. All through 1906, his 1st full season, it was 1 incident after another. The pro-McIntyre clique intended to deny him a starting slot.

                          They may have felt that their initial "pranks" were innocent. Little did they know of Ty's family situation, the circumstances of his father's death, and of his steely resolve to fight them to a standstill at every point along the line. His enemies no doubt believed that he'd defer to older players, accept their grossly ignorant abuse with the same forced laughing it off, that other rookies did when hazed out of the MLs. Man, were they wrong.

                          The ring-leaders of the anti-Cobb clique were:

                          Matty McIntyre: He joined the Tigers in 1904, was 26 in 1906, and had some allies. Let go in 1910, due to problems with Ty.
                          Twilight Ed Killian: He was McIntyre's room mate, was 30 yrs. old and a pitcher. Tigers let him go in 1910 due to his problems with Ty.
                          Ed Siever: Was 29 yrs. old in 1906, let go in 1908, due to his problems with Cobb.
                          Sam Crawford: He was a team leader. What he did, influenced the whole team.
                          George Moriarty: Another of the toughest of the league. With Detroit, 1909-15.
                          Charlie Schmidt: Fought Ty 3 times. With Detroit, 1906-11.

                          At first, it started with throwing wet wads of newspaper at him from behind, then smashing the crowns out of his hats. They'd lock him out of the hotel shower, and make him wait in the hall, shivering. They'd put cow turds in his shoes, nail his shoes to the clubhouse floor. When they sawed his home-made ash bats in two, it hurt him deeply. He had spent a lot of time boning those bats. But when he would snarl back, challenge them to fist-fight him, they escalated into fights. They goated their catcher, Bossman Charlie Schmidt into fighting Ty. It got so out of hand, that the young Ty started carrying a pistol for self-protection.

                          Schmidt had the reputation of being the toughest guy in the league. He had sparred with Jack Johnson, who later became the world's heavy-weight champion, drove spikes into the clubhouse floor with only his bare hands. He weighed over 200 lbs.

                          Ty arrived in Augusta, GA, for spring training, 1906, on March 9, but on Friday afternoon, March 30, Ty boarded a train for Lavonia, GA to attend his mother's murder trial. Late the next afternoon, the all male jury found his mother not guilty of voluntary manslaughter. Ty spent a few days with his mother and rejoined the Tigers in Birmingham, AL, April 7, 1906.

                          Right after that, he developed a bad case of tonsillitis, and had his tonsils removed, without anesthetic, by a physician who the next year, was committed to an insane asylum. Then back to his team.

                          Few rookies have ever had to endure the severity of the hazing Cobb did in 1906. The harassment and fighting among Cobb, Killian, Siever and McIntyre continued unabated. Ty finally took to carrying a pistol out of fear of further beatings. One day that summer, he was timed with a stopwatch at 100 yds. His 10 flat sprint in uniform and BB cleats, wasn't bad, considering the world record of 9.6 of world record holder Dan Kelly's in track shorts, track spikes, and specialized training.

                          His BA plunged from .348 in late June, to .318 in mid-July. Suddenly, he disappeared from the Detroit lineup. Not even his team mates were told of his whereabouts. He had been sent back to a sanitarium in the suburbs of Detroit. He had suffered a nervous breakdown. So the Detroit management had sent him there to rest and recover from the hazing of his team. He was out of the lineup from July 18, 1906 to September 3, 1906, 44 days. Which proves that even Cobb had a threshold of tolerance for stress.

                          And even throughout that hellish rookie season of 1906, Cobb still led his team in BA. with .318. The rest of the season, Cobb still had the 3 ringleaders of McIntyre, Killian, and Siever to contend with. And throughout the seasons of 1907-10, Ty still had conflicted relations with his team mates. They didn't like him and he became comfortable as a loner. He was friends with Wild Bill Donovan and Davey Jones.

                          I don't intend to paint a picture of Ty as a totally innocent saint. Once he attacked a grounds-keeper who merely clapped him on the back. Ty assaulted him, strangled him and when his wife tried to get him off the grounds keeper, he turned on her and strangled her. The team heard the commotion and came running. Schmidt pulled Ty off the poor man and beat the hell out of him. And manager Jennings considered trading Ty for Elmer Flick, but nothing came of it. So Ty didn't always have "clean hands" either. But not normally. It is plain to me, that Ty was taking out on an innocent bystander what he would have liked to take out on McIntyre, Killian, and Siever.

                          Ty's troubles with his team mates culminated with an incident at the end of the 1910 season. When it seemed as if Lajoie had won the BA., 8 of Ty's team mates sent a congratulatory telegram to Lajoie for winning the BA title. That hurt Ty deeply, but he covered up by saying, "That was to be expected." Supposedly, McIntyre, Crawford, Jones, Bush, and Schmidt signed the telegram. They did not deny it.

                          That telegram to Lajoie was an unnecessary, snide, cheap shot at Ty. But that mean-spirited gesture, around October 1, 1910, was followed by another gesture only 5 weeks later, of a different kind. In early November, the Detroit Tigers received an invitation to visit Havana, Cuba, for a 12 games series of games. The Tigers had gone there the previous November, 1909, and lost 4-8 to the Havana black team, which was strengthened by a few US black superstars of the Negro L. The Tigers had lost before, and this time asked Cobb to join them, so they could win their series this time. So, those mean-spirited Tigers of 5 wks. ago, now were asking Cobb for a favor.

                          Although Ty initially refused on racial grounds, he relented when the Cuban promoters added a $1,000. bonus for him. "I broke my own rule for a few games. The money was right." Ty went down there, but missed the 1st 5 games. When he arrived, the Tigers were 3-3-1 with the blacks. With Ty, they finished the series at 7-4-1. With Ty, they did 4-1.

                          Ty never tried to even the score for the Lajoie telegram. He let it pass, and kept trying to help his team win. He concentrated on getting his hits, runs and winning games. His incidents with his team mates dropped and they eventually came to see him in another, different, better light. They saw he was helping them win, with every sinew, drop of blood, fiber of his being. The team had gotten rid of Ty's tormentors along the way. They had let go of both McIntyre & Killian in 1910, Siever in 1908, and Schmidt in 1911. So that no doubt helped team cohesion / morale. The anti-Ty clique, without its ringleaders, quietly subsided. So things can and often do heal with time.

                          For one thing, Ty had so achieved superstar status, that to continue to haze him would no longer work on a fully-grown, matured player, like it would on a skinny, isolated 19 yr. old. It was a bizarre incident a year and a half later which would put an end to all team disharmony. So 1911 and the first part of 1912 passed, without further major incidents between Ty and his team mates. And they couldn't help but see that there were no limits to how earnestly he was trying to assist the team to reach the top, and its attending World Series payouts.

                          One day at Hilltop Park, NY, May 15, 1912, Ty's team showed him just how far they had come in terms of respecting him. This one day, a heckling fan went WAY too far with respect to player abuse. He and Ty had known each other in GA, and disliked each other even then. This fan, Claude Lueker, had dogged Ty whenever the Tigers visited the New York Highlanders. He had a foghorn voice and could be heard above the roar of the crowd. And he made no bows to discretion this day. At 1st, Ty shouted back into the crowd, then tried to avoid the heckler. He requested the park ushers and security to remove the offending violator, but they refused, citing they had no idea who it was. Ty tried not coming in to the dugout if he wasn't going to bat. But when he had to come in, it started over again.

                          All this time, it gave Ty's team mates a unique, rare chance to see how Ty was trying his honest best to deal with his oppressor. It HAD to let them ponder how they too had treated him in the past. And now, they saw how he was being systematically persecuted. They saw how he tried to keep his cool. Tried to work through the system and asked the ushers to do their jobs, and how he had absented himself to the extent he could. And how he was being hurt and couldn't properly defend himself.

                          It might even have reminded them of their old mean-spirited telegram, and how he had not fought back, had allowed it to pass uncommented on. And even had went with them to Cuba to help them win their series. But most of all, they had seen how he had never spared himself in his quest to help his team to the very best of his ability, of which they knew to be supreme. So, acting as one, they now shifted into gear to support their team mate.

                          Sam Crawford, always a team leader, was the man they all looked to to take their cues. And on this day, to his credit, Sam led the way.

                          Taking their cues from Sam, they all went up to Ty and told him that whatever he decided to do, they would back him up, come what may. And now, Crawford, always their team leader, led the way. The team saw how Crawford went up to Ty, and told him, "If you don't stand up for yourself, and your family, we won't think much of you. Do what you must. We're here behind you every step of the way."

                          Well, you can imagine how that put steel in his veins. Steeled by his team's support, the next time the heckler cut lose with his racial profanity, Cobb hopped the railing, sprinted up the grandstand, and seeing Lueker, beat the living snot out of his sad ass. And when he did, the other fans cheered. Ty went back down the steps towards his dugout to find his team mates, brandishing bats, lining the field, in case any fans charged the field.

                          That one incident was so shocking to Ty that he couldn't quite fathom that his team had backed him to the hilt. When he was suspended they struck. That astonished Ty even more. And touched him in a way that he never thought would happen. That was their way of telling him that they'd changed their attitude towards him, and appreciated his contributions to team winning.

                          That incident went a long way towards unifying a previously divided team. And gave Ban Johnson a chance to clean up the abuse of players. Park security was tightened up so that offending fans of the future would be escorted out of the park. Tossing glass soda bottles would no longer be tolerated either. An ump had be hit in the head on one occasion. Heckling is one thing, and is a traditional part of the sport. But profanity, drunkenness, and racial slurs were off limits. So it led to a healthy result.

                          Boss Schmidt died in 1932 as one of Ty's close friends. They even wept a few times to remember how it'd been. Grew to love each other.

                          Wild Bill Donovan: Was always one of Ty's friends. Died: December 9, 1923, Forsyth, NY.
                          Matty McIntyre: Died in 1920, never having made his peace with Cobb or shaking hands.
                          Twilight Ed Killian: Wrote Ty one day yrs. after his career ended. Worked in Studebaker plant in Detroit & hoped there might be enough left in his old arm to pick up a few bucks in an industrial league. "Gee, it's been tough for me. If I had a pair of shoes and a glove, I could make this team and it would help."
                          "Ed," Ty wrote back, "present yourself at the Spalding's sports good store in Detroit and order the best--anything you need. I'll phone them and make sure your order is filled. I hope you win every game." So Ty was able to bury the hatchet with one of his old antagonists.

                          Ed Killian: Died July 18, 1928 in Detroit, MI, age 52, cancer
                          ED Siever: Died: February 4, 1920, Detroit, MI, age 43, tuberculosis
                          Matty McIntyre: Died: April 2, 1920, Detroit, MI, age 40, tuberculosis
                          Charlie Schmidt: Died: November 14, 1932, Clarksville, AR, age 52, intestinal disorder.
                          Bill Donovan: Died: December 9, 1923, Forsyth, NY, age 47, train wreck.
                          George Moriarty: Died: April 8, 1964, Miami, FL, age 80.

                          Strangely, it looks as if most of Ty's former hazers died very early in life.
                          So ends an explanation for Ty's relations with his early team mates. Part I.

                          Part 2.

                          Later in his career, Ty was made the manager of his team, and that brought a whole new chapter to his relations with his team mates. Mostly, his problems arose from his inability to communicate with his pitchers. As a CF/ manager, he'd trot in from CF to confer with his pitchers, and man would they hate that. So would the fans, since it slowed up the game. But he didn't know any other way.

                          There were of course those who did get along with Ty and supported him throughout. Fred Haney, his little 2nd basemen was one such player.

                          Fred Haney - 1929 " I personally know of many attempts Cobb made to help players out -- veterans who were slipping both professionally and financially, -- but, in each case the player coached by some of the soreheads, would be warned off. On one occasion, Cobb offered to invest $3,000. for a player about to be waived out of the league. The player wanted to accept the generous offer, but some other player, among them one who has since come to disrepute, advised him strongly against it, and he took their advice, only to be sorry later. This talk about his not being for his players was pure bunk, There was nothing he didn't try to do to make everyone happy. As I said, there were those who just wouldn't or couldn't see anything good in Ty. He had his share of battles, on and off the diamond, did Ty, but, in all of them, he was a square shooter and a square fighter." (Sporting News, April 25, 1929)

                          Fred Haney - 1961 - "Ty Cobb was a great manager. He took a bunch of punks and finished third in 1922, second in '23 and third in '24, when he should have been deep in the second division. He was a wonderful fellow to play for --if you hustled and did your best all the time. He was very demanding, but quick to give you a pat on the back, too. (Sporting News, Nov. 8, 1961, pp. 10, column 3)

                          Bert Cole - 1970 - But, As Cole says, he got along better with Cobb than most. He discounts the stories about Cobb's being penurious, mean and selfish. "Cobb wasn't inherently mean or really stingy. He was just fanatical about winning. When we won, nothing was too good for us. There was steak for everybody. When we lost, he wouldn't even give you conversation . . .

                          When I broke in, he and Harry Heilmann were having a helluva race for the batting title, and suddenly Harry went into a month-long slump. "Ty had Harry off in the corner of the park everyday for hours before each game trying to figure out ways to break him out of that slump. Well, Ty was a tremendous batting instructor, and he pulled Harry out of it." That was the year Heilmann hit .394, Cobb .389, and Heilmann took the batting title.

                          Frank Baker - 1961 - "The burning desire to excel. That was Ty Cobb, the greatest ball player who ever lived." Upset by a magazine writer's (Alvin Stump) bitter presentation of Cobb's last days, Baker wanted to go on record that "there wasn't a mean bone in Ty's body." Cobb had a fiery temper, sure. And there was that overpowering urge to win that brought him into violent contact with opponents and sometimes teammates.

                          But always there was an underlying decency that quickly brought praise and kind words after he had chewed you out. That even prompted him to help recruits quietly in a day and time in baseball when they got little assistance in winning away jobs from old regulars. There'll never be another Cobb, Anybody who saw him or knew him will agree with that." (Sporting News, Jan. 10, 1962, pp. 14, column 4)

                          Harry Heilmann, (Ty's teammate, '16-26), AL OF, 1914-29; (Cinc. coach, '32), (Detroit announcer, '33-50)
                          1939 - "Unquestionably, the greatest ball player who ever lived - by far. And he would have been a great banker, an outstanding industrialist, a famous general, or a potent figure in any field he chose. No other man I've ever known had Ty Cobb's frenzy for excellence, his self-discipline of his tremendous application. I call him the best friend I ever had in baseball." (Washington Post, June 12,1939, pp. 19, "This Morning With Shirley Povich")

                          Rip Collins - 1929 - Ty's teammate, 1920-26; AL P, 1920-27, 29-31
                          1929 - "Ty Cobb and I are supposed to be enemies. That might have been true once; but it's not true now. We've had our share of differences, I'll admit. There were times when I couldn't even see Ty's face through the red haze that sprung up between us. I hated to work for him, and I am frank
                          to say I wouldn't like to work for him now. But working for Ty and recognizing his good points on another ball club are two different things. . .

                          There's a pretty general impression, I think, that Cobb was not an able manager. It is true he never won a pennant. But now that I'm no longer with the club, I'll go on record that if Connie Mack had managed the Tigers, with John McGraw for his coach and Joe McCarthy for his bat boy, he wouldn't have done any better than Ty. . . Cobb was not a failure as a manager. He was not a bad manager. In many ways he was a brilliant manager.

                          He knew more baseball than anybody I ever saw. And chain lightning was no faster than the working of Ty's mind. He was always a fighter and he had a fighting ball club. that's what the public wants. He was as full of tricks as a coyote is full of fleas. they weren't parlor tricks, either. Ty was out to win ball games. . . Ty was a great coach. I doubt if his equal has ever lived. . . he did as well, with the material they gave him, as anybody could have done. So why call him a bad manager?. . . Ty never had a good pitching staff. His outfield was bad defensively), and his infield was worse. As a fielding combination, the Tigers were like an old sieve. But how those boys could hit and score runs? Ty coached them and he kept them on their toes.

                          They were about as dangerous a team to stop as the New York Yankees. As for pennants, it makes little difference how many runs you score, as long as the other fellow scores more. But I haven't noticed many pennants waving from that old flag pole at Detroit since they gave Ty the gate. He drove the boys up as high as second place one year. They haven't roosted in that berth since. So why not give Ty his due? Why saddle him with a failure that was not his, or blame him for something that nobody could help? Ty is entitled to get sore at that kind of criticism. Frankly, I don't blame him." (Baseball Magazine, April, 1930, pp. 493)

                          Ty Cobb was supremely successful as a baseball player. He achieved supreme financial success after his career ended. It has been said that he who laughs last, laughs best. If there is any relationship between admiration and affection, Ty was successful there. Ty was called the best by the following of his team mates.

                          Ty's Detroit teammates who called him the Greatest.
                          Hughie Jennings, ML SS,1B, 1891-1902 Detroit manager, 1907-20, Giants coach,'21-25
                          "Wild Bill" Donovan, (Ty's teammate, '05-12, 18); NL P ( 1898-02),; AL P ('03-12, 15-16, 18) NL man. 1921, AL man. '15-17, Det. c '18, Player's L. ump. 03, 06
                          Red Corriden, (Ty's teammate, 1912); AL SS, (1910, 12); NL SS,1913-15; White Sox manager, 1950; NL coach, 1932-46, AL coach, 1947-48, 50
                          Ralph Works, (Ty's teammate,'09-11); AL P, 1909-12, NL P, 1912-13
                          Oscar Vitt, (Ty's teammate, '12-18, 21); AL 3B (1912-21), Cleveland. manager (1938-40)
                          Jack Coombs, (Ty's coach, 1920); AL P, 1906-14, Detroit coach, 1920
                          Ed Ainsmith, (Ty's teammate,1919-21)
                          John Bogart, Detroit P, 1920
                          George Cutshaw, (Ty's teammate, 1922-23); NL 2B, 1912-21, Tigers 2B, 22-23
                          Johhny Bassler, (Ty's teammate, '21-26); AL catcher, 1913-14, '21-27
                          Charlie Gehringer, (Ty's teammate, 1924-26); Detroit 2B, (1924-42), Det. coach,('42), Det. GM & VP, (1951-59)
                          Donie Bush, (Ty's teammate, '08-21); AL SS, 1908-23, AL manager, 1923, 27-31, 33
                          George Moriarty, (AL 3B, 1906-17) AL ump (1917-41, except for Detroit manager,1927-28)
                          Johnny Neun, (Ty's teammate, 1925-26); Yankee coach (1944-46), Yankee manager (1946), Reds manager (1947-48); NL 1B (1930-31), Reds manager (1947-48
                          George Henry Burns, (Ty's teammate 1914-17); AL 1B, 1914-29
                          Harry Heilmann, (Ty's teammate, '16-26), AL OF, 1914-29; (Cinc. coach, '32), (Detroit announcer, '33-50)
                          Eddie Wells, (Ty's teammate, 1923-26); Det. P, 1923-27, Yankees P, 1929-32, Browns P, 1933-34
                          Bert Cole, (Ty's teammate, 1921-25); AL P, 1921-1925, 27
                          Heinie Manush, (Ty's teammate, 1923-26); AL OF ('23-36), NL OF ('37-39)
                          Del Baker, (Ty's teammate,1914-16); Detroit catcher, 1914-16; Detroit manager 1936-42, Det. coach, 1933-38; Cleveland coach, 1943-44; Red Sox coach , 1945-48, 53-60
                          Dan Howley, (Ty's coach,1919, '21-22); Browns' manager, 1927-29; Phillies catcher, 191
                          Fred Haney, (Ty's teammate,1922-25); AL 3B,2B, 1922-27, NL 3B, 1927,29; Browns manager, 1939-41; Pirates manager, 1953-55; Braves manager, 1956-59
                          George McBride, (Ty's teammate,1925-26) AL 3B ('08-20), NL 3B ('05-06); Wash. manager ('21), Det. coach ('25-26, 29)
                          Ira Thomas, (Ty's teammate, 1908); AL catcher, 1906-15; Phil. A's coach, 1925-28

                          Ty's Athletics teammates who called him the Greatest.
                          Mickey Cochrane, (Ty's teammate,1927-28); AL catcher (1925-38); Detroit Manager, (1934-38), A's coach (1950), Detroit VP (1961-62); Yankee scout (1955), Detroit scout (1960)
                          Al Simmons, (Ty's teammate,1927-28) AL OF, 1924-41, 43-44
                          Bing Miller, (Ty's teammate, 1928) AL OF, 1921-36, AL coach, 1937-53
                          Max Bishop, (Ty's teammate, 1927-28) AL 2B, 1924-35; (Ty's teammate, 1927-28)
                          Eddie Collins, (Ty's teammate,1927-28)
                          Tris Speaker, (Ty's teammate,28) (AL OF,07-28)(
                          Kid Gleason, (Ty coach, 1927-28) NL pitcher (1888-11,exc.,'01-02); AL coach ('12-17, 26-32, exc.15), AL manager, '19-23) NL 88-11,exc.01-02
                          Connie Mack, (Ty's manager,1927-28) NL catcher (1886-96) Philadelphia Athletics' manager, 1901-50
                          Last edited by Bill Burgess; 08-05-2012, 05:30 PM.


                          • #14
                            Well stated Bill. I've read your Cobb articles. Just about everyone of his altercations with people,whether it be teammates,opponents or off the field, can be traced to Cobb's feeling disrespected. From all I've read on him, I get the feeling he could be a decent guy as long as you always played by his rules.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Bill Burgess View Post
                              Ty's troubles with his team mates culminated with an incident at the end of the 1910 season. When it seemed as if Lajoie had won the BA., 8 of Ty's team mates sent a congratulatory telegram to Lajoie for winning the BA title. That hurt Ty deeply, but he covered up by saying, "That was to be expected." Supposedly, McIntyre, Crawford, Jones, Bush, and Schmidt signed the telegram. They did not deny it.
                              Bill, this seems to go straight to the question in the initial post. What does "they did not deny it" mean? Is it that they were they grilled by the press but retreated into a noncommital silence? Did contemporaries think the story was so foolish that nobody worried about it? Did it not even appear until after they were all dead and it could safely e asserted without danger of refutation?
                              “Money, money, money; that is the article I am looking after now more than anything else. It is the only thing that will shape my course (‘religion is nowhere’).” - Ross Barnes


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