Ty Cobb: ‘That Man Could Hit’

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With guest host Jane Clayson.

Ty Cobb’s back in the batter’s box, in a new biography. We’ll go deep on one of baseball’s most controversial stars.

In this file photo, Detroit Tigers outfielder, Ty Cobb, slides into base in 1925. (AP)
In this file photo, Detroit Tigers outfielder, Ty Cobb, slides into base in 1925. (AP)

"Ty Cobb." That name is hard-wired into the story of baseball and the roaring early days of 20th Century America. One of the game’s first superstars.  Babe Ruth admired him. His fans adored him. Other fans hated how he could hit, steal and run rings around their teams.  But somehow, after he died, he became baseball’s anti-hero. The guy who sharpened his spikes and used them. The violent man, the racist, the major league bully. Turns out, that whole anti-hero story is wrong. This hour, On Point: the true story of the great Ty Cobb.
-- Jane Clayson


Charles Leerhsen, former Sports Illustrated editor. Author of the new book, "Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty." Also author of "Blood and Smoke" and "Crazy Good." (@CharlesLeerhsen)

Herschel Cobb, grandson of Ty Cobb and author of the memoir, "Heart of a Tiger: Growing Up With My Grandfather, Ty Cobb."

From The Reading List

Smithsonian: The Knife in Ty Cobb’s Back — "By 1912, Cobb had established himself as one of the baseball’s biggest stars, and he would eventually be recognized as one of the greatest to ever play the game. When the National Baseball Hall of Fame inducted its inaugural class in 1936, he received more votes than any other player, including Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson, Christy Matthewson and Honus Wagner. By all accounts, he was fiery, belligerent, mean-tempered and capable of violence. But did he kill a man?"

ESPN: He was a pain ... but a great pain -- "Cobb became the first player to have successive .400 seasons, batting .410 in 1912. But off the field, Cobb's uncontrollable temper continued to cause trouble. In New York he went into the stands after a heckling fan called him names. He punched, kicked and stomped the fan, who was missing one hand and part of the other because of a workplace accident. AL president Ban Johnson suspended Cobb."

USA Today: Did Ty Cobb kill a drifter in 1912? — "No one ever accused Ty Cobb of being a great guy. He had a reputation for aggressive and sometimes dirty play, with baseball lore insisting he sharpened his spikes to injure opponents. Earlier in 1912, he got suspended 10 games after jumping into the crowd in New York to beat up a heckler who had no hands, and got into bloody fights with umpires. But he probably wasn’t a murderer.

This program aired on May 7, 2015.


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