'Baseball,' Ty Cobb liked to say, 'is something like a war...Baseball is a red-blooded sport for red-blooded men. It's not pink tea, and mollycoddles had better stay out of it. It's...a struggle for supremacy, a survival of the fittest' (Ward and Burns 64). Although Ty Cobb was possibly the greatest player in baseball history, many people would consider him its worst person.
Tyrus Raymond Cobb was born December 18, 1886 in The Narrows, Georgia. His parents named him after the ancient Phoenician city of Tyre, which stubbornly refused to surrender to Alexander the Great. From the very beginning, he took after the city and became one of baseball's most stubborn and hated men.
The Georgia Peach, so-called, was a creature of extremes. Ty Cobb is, by bald statistics, measurably the greatest hitter ever; he was, by the reckoning of virtually everyone who met him, personally the most despicable human being ever to grace the National Pastime (Deford 56).
Cobb's playing career, with the Detroit Tigers and the Philadelphia Athletics, was arguably the best anyone ever had. He won twelve batting titles in thirteen years, including a record nine in a row. He also holds the records for the most runs scored with 2,245 and the highest lifetime batting average at .367, a number nearly unreachable even in just one season by today's standards. Other records he set that have since been broken: 3,034 games played, 4,191 hits, 892 stolen bases, 392 outfield assists, 1,136 extra base hits, and 1,961 runs batted in. He also struck out just 357 times in 11,429 times at bat, a phenomenal achievement. After his career ended, in 1936, he was the leading vote-getter of the first class of the Baseball Hall of Fame, beating even Babe Ruth.
However, Cobb's career was marred with controversy...