Sunday, July 8, 2012

Ty Cobb - The Georgia Peach

We took a side trip to the Ty Cobb Museum in Royston, Georgia before heading south to Savannah. I've read a few books about Ty Cobb among them The Tiger Wore Spikes: An Informal Biography of Ty Cobb that was published in 1956  and an autobiography, My Life in Baseball: The True Record, with writer Al Stumpand, and came to appreciate how good a baseball player he was so, because we were so close, we (well....I decided) to swing by and visit the place.

The museum sign needs some work. You can see our coach in the background where we parked.

The museum is one of the wings inside the Joe A. Adams Professional Building (medical facility). Kind of low-key huh?

Compare Ty Cobb's modest Museum with this one...Babe Ruth's Museum.
Entering the mega-metropolis of Royston, Georgia where they Museum is located. Population: 2,500
Entrance into the museum in the foyer of the building. There are two large posters of Cobb to the upper right and left.
Lifetime batting average of .367...highest of all time. More on a comparison of his average to modern day batters later.

First thing you see when you enter are these bats with notable events on each.

First Player Voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936 with the highest vote percentage of all nominated !
The first Baseball Hall of Fame class consisted of:

Ty Cobb (outfielder) 222 votes out of 226 - 98.2%

Babe Ruth (pitcher, outfielder) 215 votes  out of 226 - 95.1%

Honus Wagner (shortstop) 215 votes out of 226 - 95.1%

Christy Mathewson (pitcher) 205 votes out of 226 - 90.7%

Walter Johnson (pitcher) 189 votes out of 226 - 87.6%

Now...a bit about his hitting ability:

I worked up a chart comparing 11 years of Cobb's batting averages from 1908-1919 to modern day players from 2001-2011. He bated higher every year than anyone today. As a matter of fact, his average of over 24 seasons is higher than almost every one year shown below! The man could hit !

Look at his rankings over the span of his career. A few that are not listed is that he averaged over .400 three times, batted below .320 only one year, won 9 batting titles IN A ROW (1907-1915)!

Notice his hands...they're separated. He gives the reason below. I find it interesting that no one has tried to emulate this technique even though he was such a prolific hitter.
DON'T GRIP YOUR BAT AT THE VERY END; leave say an inch or two. ALSO, LEAVE AT LEAST AN INCH OR MORE SPACE BETWEEN YOUR HANDS; that gives you balance and control of bat, and also keeps hands from interfering with each other during swing.

Cobb averaged 48 stolen bases over his career including 96 one year and 54 steals of home ! This was another area he studied to improve year after year.

Now for some shots of the interior. Even reading everything and watching the movie, it took only about and hour and a half to complete the tour. I was the only one inside. I asked the museum curator "How's business?" She replied, "It's been great today (this was a Saturday)...we've had SIX people come through already !"  She was great.

Cobb was one of the first players to do endorsements. He went with Coca-Cola. As a matter of fact, he was one of the largest stockholders in Coke as it got started. This made him quite wealthy over his lifetime.

Someone's private collection that has been donated for viewing.

Cobb's famous base-stealing shoes. Legend has it he used to "sharpen" them on the concrete side of the dugout before a game to intimidate the infielders because he used to come in to the base spikes high.

Again, notice the split hand grip on the bat. My friend, Dick Howell pointed out that his number has never been retired at Detroit Tigers stadium....why?.... because, in his day, they had no numbers !

Give this to your kid when he's playing baseball today and he'll give you a look like...wha???

To's typical glove.

Baseball card

Special baseball card for Baseball's Greatest collection.

A smattering of Ty Cobb baseball cards from over the years.

Another old baseball card...not sure how much this is worth.

The start of this baseball career.
There are lots of stories about how competitive and mean ("a real SOB) Cobb was. When he first came up, the other players did not appreciate his talent as it meant that, if he made the team, their share would be decreased by one more he was pretty cocky. They would go out of their way to belittle and humiliate him. So naturally, he fought back. Over they years, he never lost his competitive nature but his teammates realized he would help them win so they began to accept him. That's the short version.

Cobb was very generous during his the point where, if one of the players was down on their luck, due to poor financial decisions, he would slip them monthly money until they got stable.

The Ty Cobb Museum doesn't gloss over his faults, which is evident from the sign that adorns the entrance to the small shrine.

"No player in history," it says, "generated more emotion, created more havoc, bruised more egos and left more bitterness than Tyrus Raymond Cobb, a snarling wildcat who cut a bloody path to baseball immortality."

But the museum also has displays on his generosity, which included sizable donations to start the Ty Cobb Healthcare System (which now includes three hospitals, three long-term care facilities and one assisted-living complex).

He stated the Ty Cobb Educational Foundation (which doles out some $600,000 a year in scholarships to students both black and white).

Kim stayed in the car. Ty Cobb? Baseball? Oh, that game they play with a ball?

I LOVED being the place...just soaking it all in. This was a real treat. Hope you enjoyed this post.


For more of Cobb's life...the good and the bad...

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