The late, great Detroit News’ columnist, Joe Falls, was the founder of a Detroit Tigers fan club of sorts known as the “Eddie Lake Society.” Each month, the Society’s Executive Secretary, Karen Bush, publishes a digital newsletter that is read by Tiger devotees from one coast to the other. Ms. Bush is an excellent writer and one of the most loyal and knowledgeable Tigers fans I have ever met (and I’ve met a lot of them).
A few years ago, Ms. Bush cited a dandy anecdote from Joe Falls’ book, So You Love Tiger Stadium Too: Give it a Hug (Grand Ledge: Connection Graphics, 1999) concerning Ty Cobb. Below is an excerpt taken from the July 2008 issue of the Eddie Lake Society newsletter:
The Greatest Tiger of Them All
[Editor’s note: a “winning mentality” doesn’t ever retire – especially when the mentality belongs to Ty Cobb. Cobb’s final moment of competitive baseball is a classic illustration of why baseball isn’t just a game of long ball.]
Ty Cobb played his last game in an Oldtimer’s Game in Yankee Stadium. He was 61 years old and they had him batting leadoff.
He took his place in the batter’s box and as he was getting settled in, he turned to the catcher and said: Would you mind moving back a bit? I haven’t done this for a long time and I don’t want to lose control of the bat and hit you with it.”
The catcher moved back a few feet.
Cobb got set again. “You know, I’m pretty nervous about this whole thing. Could you move back just a little more?”
The catcher moved back a little more.
Cobb bunted the first pitch and beat it out for a hit.