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Monday, May 25, 2015

"Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty". New book challenges view of Cobb as racist.

"Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty" by Charles Leerhsen. Leerhsen was interviewed a few days ago on the MLB Network TV program "High Heat" by a surprisingly receptive Chris "Mad Dog" Russo.


After his death in 1961, however, something strange happened: his reputation morphed into that of a monster—a virulent racist who also hated children and women, and was in turn hated by his peers. 

How did this happen? Who is the real Ty Cobb? Setting the record straight, Charles Leerhsen pushed aside the myths, traveled to Georgia and Detroit, and re-traced Cobb's journey, from the shy son of a professor and state senator who was progressive on race for his time, to America's first true sports celebrity. In the process, he tells of a life overflowing with incident and a man who cut his own path through his times—a man we thought we knew but really didn't.

Ty Cobb sliding into catcher
Although this picture is often used to indict Cobb, catcher Paul Krichell said it was misleading: Ty wasn't spiking him, just knocking the ball out of his hand. After the collision, the two fought briefly and both were fined.

Yes, Paul Krichell, the catcher in the photo, is the man who signed Lou Gehrig for the Yankees.


Over his 37 years with New York, Krichell landed many of the players who would make the Yankees one of great dynasties in American sports. Krichell’s successes included both quality—such as Lou Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri, Phil Rizzuto, and Whitey Ford—and quantity.

I have not read the Leerhsen book.

Charlie Leerhsen - Ty Cobb (History in Five) video

In lesson five of that video Leerhsen directly addresses whether Ty Cobb was a racist. There is a photo of Cobb shaking hands with Don Newcombe and comments about Cobb attending Negro League games during which Cobb sometimes threw out the first ball and sat in the dugout.
Image result for ty Cobb shaking hands with Don Newcombe photo
Cobb and Newcombe
Ty Cobb giving Hank Aaron and other Milwaukee Braves some hitting advice in 1957, probably before June.
Ty Cobb and Mickey Mantle.  Hey, I like The Mick.
When did it become OK to call someone a racist? Sunday, January 26, 2014

Yesterday I attended a baseball meeting in New York City.  There were about 100 people in the audience.  Two of the speakers explicitly called two Hall of Famers racists.  None of us said a word...

... the president of the Hall of Fame.  In defending the voting results that have barred users of performance enhancing drugs (PED), presumably including steroids, he mentioned that Ty Cobb was a racist.  That is a familiar refrain and it was not surprising that no one objected.  Cobb was inducted into the Hall of Fame by BBWAA as Player in 1936 (222/226 ballots). Induction ceremony in Cooperstown held in 1939.  Cobb died on July 17, 1961 in Atlanta, GA (Aged 74)...

This post is not a defense but a question.

Ty Cobb This article was written by Daniel Ginsburg

In an Associated Press article dated January 29, 1952, Cobb came out in favor of integration in baseball, stating "Certainly it is O.K. for them to play. I see no reason in the world why we shouldn't compete with colored athletes as long as they conduct themselves with politeness and gentility." Later, Cobb wrote to Al Stump that segregation was a "lousy rule."


That meeting was the SABR New York City Casey Stengel Chapter annual regional.  People in the audience were knowledgeable.

Racist Friday, May 2, 2014

Are transgressors lost forever?  Are there no prodigal sons?  Can they never be redeemed?  ...

... what if Leo Durocher had managed Jackie Robinson in 1947?  Durocher would have been out on the field attacking the opposing teams when they went after Robinson, verbally or physically.  Durocher was known as a bench jockey himself, maybe not that different from Chapman...

A big part of the Robinson legend is that he was a victim.  Had Durocher been his manager in 1947, much of that moral high ground would have been diminished.  Robinson's own strength of character would, of course, prevail but the fairy tale component might have been denied to simplistic people like Selig...

(Allen Barra): "the Ben Chapman portrayed in the movie will certainly define his image in baseball history. And that's fair. But it's just possible that near the end of his life Chapman did change—or as we say today, he evolved."

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