Letter from Ty Cobb Reveals His Thoughts on the Game

It’s easy these days to focus on what has been taken from us – what we’ve lost following the capricious demolition of a great old ballpark. But there are a lot of things still to treasure – things that are safely out of reach of the shortsighted and ignorant.

Years ago, a faded Xerox copy of a letter was given me by a co-worker who thought that, since it had something to do with baseball, I might be interested in it. It originally had been sent to an uncle of his who was a sportswriter, he explained. The family had kept it because somebody said that the man who wrote it was famous.

Famous? You might say so. The Georgia Peach had been out of baseball for 17 years and away from Navin Field for 19 when he was asked to pick an all-time, All Star team. On a narrow piece of executive stationery, in margin to margin, small, controlled handwriting, Ty Cobb explains why Eddie Collins was a better second baseman than Gehringer and damns Ted Williams as a one-dimensional player – “good hit, no field.” If you want to write him and disagree, there’s an address on the letterhead, but it’s a little doubtful that Cobb is still collecting mail there.

Here is the text from the letter:

BOX 394D

Jan. 6th, 1945

Dear Butch: –
                   It was surely nice to hear from you also pleasing to know you
concurred in my selections.

The man I gave this story to is a neighbor of mine at a summer place I have at
Lake Tahoe, he is head of M. Press here in San Francisco, he is not a baseball
writer. Certain points he did not get also as I remember some averages he did
not look up that I could not remember, then some reasons I gave for certain
selections was cut or was not clear.

For instance I made the point in selection of a team and my first selection
or choice had to be my idea of most valuable it would be Collins, probably
the key position on a club, and he could do everything with a high grand
batting average and the most effective team man in baseball, I had more trouble with he at second and that Schalk behind the bat, they watched everything closely and nothing escaped them. I was conscious all the time of them frustrating me in trying to pull plays. Collins could go as far as any one into outfield, go to right & to his left, great fielder, run bases made all the plays double plays Etc and was a manager in the field, he coached everyone,
called the plays & eliminated confusion, yes if Gheringer [sic] had Collins spirit & drive I would select him, though Collins I believe out hit Charlie & far better on bases, one thing about Charlie he was the best man I ever saw coming in on slow hits.

Weaver was great in every department, how he could throw & run bases go a
“mile” for fouls or balls in outfield and how he liked baseball, he was like a
cat and how he could tag you.

Williams is a very great hitter but you had it right in his lack of interest in
fielding & not sure as to his throwing. Jackson could do it all and he hit over
400 a couple of times, and against the trick pitching & a less lively ball.
Grave a great pitcher but very tempermental [sic] and between you & me picked his spots only Mr. Mack could have steered him to his fine record. Waddell not dependable. Eddie Plank averaged I think 625 percent his whole career.

No doubt about Walsh look at his 1908 record with a club hitting I think,
232 percent.

I haven’t played so much golf of late I am only a fair golfer.

Next time east I surely hope to see you,

With every good wish, I am, Sincerely


One reply on “Letter from Ty Cobb Reveals His Thoughts on the Game

  • Jeff Taylor

    Very interesting artifact from Mr.Cobb. I grew up in Menlo Park. My father went to St.Joseph’s school with Ty’s children. My grandfather drove them all to school for quite a few years.I’m very much interested in Mr. Cobb.

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