Mickey Cochrane played quarterback, punter and running back at Boston University. He got his nickname “Black Mike” for his famous competitiveness and temper. Doc Cramer once said, “Lose a one to nothing game and you didn’t want to be in the clubhouse with Grove and Cochrane. You’d be ducking stools and gloves and bats and whatever else could fly.”
Cochrane got his start in pro baseball in the Eastern Shore League in 1923 with the Dover Senators. Mickey hit .327 with five home runs. He spent the next season in the Pacific Coast League and batted .333 with 7 homers and 56 RBI for the Portland Beavers. When he came up from the minors, he was a poor defensive catcher and learned the ropes from Cy Perkins, the incumbent with the Philadelphia Athletics. Apparently, one day early in 1925 when Cochrane got a pinch hit to win the game, Perkins was heard to say, “There goes Cy Perkins’s job.”
Cochrane quickly became one of the best hitters in baseball, and he won the American League Most Valuable Player Award in 1928 (despite hitting .293, one of only four times in his career he was below .300). During his time in Philadelphia, the club reached the World Series three times and won two, and he handled legendary pitchers including Hall of Famer Lefty Grove.
After the 1933 season, Cochrane was traded to the Detroit Tigers, where he became the club’s player-manager. In his first year there, in 1934, he led the team to the AL pennant and won the AL MVP. In 1935, his Tigers won the World Series, defeating the Chicago Cubs. In 1936, he was having a typically fine season (.466 OBP through 39 games) when he suffered a nervous breakdown in June. He returned to the lineup in August, but played just 5 more games that year. The Tigers no doubt missed Cochrane in the batting order (his backups hit terribly), but perhaps more so behind the plate, as the staff ERA rose to 5.00 from 3.82 in the title season and the team finished a distant 2nd.
On May 25, 1937, Cochrane’s playing career came to an abrupt end when his skull was fractured by a pitch thrown by Bump Hadley of the New York Yankees. After being unconscious for ten days, he recovered enough to return as manager later in the season, but had to take another break. He was againn the Tigers’ manager at the start of the 1938 season, but never played again. Cochrane had been hitting well as usual at the time of the injury, with a .306 BA, .452 OBP and 27 runs scored in 27 games. He was 10 for 17 in his last 4 contests.
Later on, Cochrane spent time as General Manager of the Athletics, a scout for the Yankees and Tigers, and a coach for the Athletics in 1950.
Away from the diamond, Cochrane was a lieutenant in World War II; he entered military service in 1942 with the US Navy and managed the Service All-Stars at Cleveland on July 7, 1942. He managed the Great Lakes team from 1942 to 1944. Then he went to Gab Gab Beach, Guam to head the fleet recreational center.