What others had to say about Ty Cobb

Ty Cobb and Napoleon Lajoie compare bats during the early part of Ty's illustrious career.

Ty Cobb and Napoleon Lajoie compare bats during the early part of Ty’s illustrious career.

When Ty Cobb retired from baseball after the 1928 season he held nearly every record in the books. His career marks for runs scored, base hits, and stolen bases stood for decades.

Even though his name has been erased from the record books in some categories, Ty Cobb can never be removed from the consciousness of American sport. He was a giant, a man who transcended the game and became a legend. His career .367 batting average will most likely never be approached. He won a dozen batting titles and stole home a record 54 times.

Cobb’s image was stained after his death by a selfish sportswriter who spread lies and exaggerated Ty’s faults. Unfortunately, without many close friends to come to his defense and having no way to defend his own honor, Cobb has suffered an unfair blow to his reputation after his demise in 1961. But, his greatness as a player has never been in dispute.

These opponents, contemporaries, sportswriters, and teammates went on the record to explain the greatness of Cobb on the diamond.

On this, the 127th anniversary of the birth of “The Georgia Peach,” we celebrate his baseball genius.

Billy Evans (Hall of Fame umpire)
“Cobb was the brainy, crafty, sensational performer, who starred in the era of close scores when one run was usually the decisive margin.”

Harry Hooper (Hall of Fame outfielder)
“To my mind Cobb’s chief greatness lies not in fielding or even batting with all his wonderful record. I think his most conspicuous talent is his base running. This is never given the credit it deserves. You can learn nothing by saying that Cobb stole sixty bases and somebody else stole fifty. Cobb not only steals bases, he breaks up games by stealing bases. He smashes the defense of a club, gets the fielders up in the air and completely demoralizes the opposition. As a base runner he is in a class by himself and I don’t believe baseball ever saw his close rival.”

– Baseball Magazine, June 1917

George J. Burns (outfielder)
“One of the most marvelous baseball machines I have ever seen. I never expect to see his equal.”

Clark Griffith (owner of the Washington Senators)
“He was a hitter, a base-runner, a great fielder, and possessed the indomitable will to win and the aggressiveness that thrilled those who watched him play.”

– In 1936 when asked why Cobb was the best player of all-time

Babe Ruth (Hall of Fame outfielder and often a target of Cobb’s taunting)
“Yes, he’s a prick, but he sure can hit. God Almighty, that man can hit!

Ossie Bluege (infielder)
“He was quick on the trigger and ten jumps ahead of you.”

Charles Comiskey (owner of the Chicago White Sox)
“The greatest ballplayer of all time? … I pick the Detroit man because he is, in my judgement, the most expert man in his profession and is able to respond better than any other ballplayer, to any demand made on him. I pick him because he plays ball with his whole anatomy — his head, his arms, his hands, his legs, his feet — and because he plays ball all the time for all that is in him. … he loves the game. I have never seen a man who had his heart more centered in a sport than Cobb has when he’s playing. There never was a really good ball player who didn’t think more of the game than he did of his salary or the applause of fans. … I believe Cobb would continue to play ball if he were charged something for the privilege, and if the only spectator were the groundskeeper.”

Chicago Tribune, 1910

Charlie Root (pitcher)
“He was tough to pitch to. I don’t think any pitcher ever found a successful way to pitch to him. I know that I didn’t.”

Duffy Lewis (outfielder)
“The greatest ball player was Ty Cobb, though none of us was crazy about him when he played. However, you had to admire him for his ability. Once he got on the bases, he had the pitchers up in the air until he got off. There didn’t seem to be anything that he couldn’t do.”

Amos Strunk, outfielder
“His dash, color, aggressiveness, hitting and speed on the bases were beautiful to watch.”

Moe Berg (catcher)
Ty was an intellectual giant. He was the most fascinating personality I ever met in baseball. To him, a ball game wasn’t a mere athletic contest. It was a knock-’em-down, crush-’em, relentless war. He was their enemy, and if they got in his way he ran right over them.

Tom Daly (catcher)
“Maybe he didn’t have the best disposition in the world, but all great ball players are afflicted with crabbiness, I think.”

Casey Stengel (outfielder)
“I think he was the most sensational base-runner who ever lived. He could get more base hits than any competitor simply by worrying the pitchers to desperation and crossing up the infielders. I never saw anyone like Ty Cobb. No one even close to him. He was the greatest all time ballplayer. That guy was superhuman, amazing.”

Ira Thomas (catcher)
“He was not only a great ball player, but he disrupted the other team’s morale by the chances he took and usually got away with. Once he got on the bases, I would rather give him credit for a run than let him get around the bases and cause anywhere from four to five runs damage before he was through.”

Del Baker (teammate, 1914-1916)
“He went out and made his own breaks. He was a battler.”

Al Simmons (Hall of Fame outfielder and teammate in Philadelphia)
“I never expect to see another player like him.”

Hugh S. Fullerton (sportswriter)
“Late in the game, he made a play which opened my eyes. A runner was on second base when a short fly was hit over second into center. Cobb could have handled it without an effort. The second baseman or shortstop could have caught it, but it would have required a fast start. Cobb claimed the catch the instant the ball was hit. “Instead of starting for it at top speed he leaped forward, seemed to hesitate, started slowly and half stopped. Bush, who evidently knew the system, started out hard as if to try to catch the ball. Cobb yelled something. Bush stopped and backed up. The ball was falling and Cobb was still lagging. It looked fifty to one the ball would fall safe. The runner on second thought he saw the ball falling, thought Cobb didn’t have a chance to make the catch and he leaped toward third. As he did so Cobb sprang forward with a wonderful sprint, made a desperate shoe-string catch, came up with the ball and tossed it to second, doubling the runner off the bag. He had made a play where there was none–had deliberately plotted to deceive the runner into believing the ball would fall safe, and had risked making a desperate catch to get the chance for a double play.”

George Sisler (Hall of Fame first baseman)
“The greatness of Ty Cobb was something that had to be seen, and to see him was to remember him forever.”

3 replies on “What others had to say about Ty Cobb

  • JeanH

    Always enjoy your articles very much. I’m endlessly fascinated by the history and players of the Detroit Tigers and it’s great fun to read more about them via your columns…thanks much!

  • Adam

    Love him or hate him, there is no denying that Ty Cobb is still the greatest hitter of all time (with proper respect to the Babe of course). The Stump “biography” and the film based on it have done nearly irreparable damage to his legacy. I highly recommend Charles C. Alexander’s biography: it gives the highs and lows, doesn’t gloss over his downfalls, but presents facts and historical reference to the man. An excellent read

Comments are closed.