Georgia Magazine - April 2017 - 17
he says. "In time, I felt
foolish for buying into
The author spent
four years researching
over newspaper articles, reading previous books on Cobb,
talking to people who Cindy Cobb, Ty's granddaughter,
knew him and even
was on hand for the Vintage Base
digging up census
Ball Game in Royston in October.
reports. He spent
Above: Cobb greets Nick Straatseveral days at the
mann of Washington, Mo., a longtime fan of Ty Cobb and
museum in Royston.
member of the Georgia Peaches. Right: She throws out the
Here are some of the
ceremonial first pitch at the game. For more about the vintage
things he discovered:
game, see page 19A of this month's digital edition.
* Cobb never sharption of census records showed that
ened his baseball spikes with a file
some of the people Cobb engaged
and in 1910 even wrote a letter to
in supposedly race-related fisticuffs
American League President Ban
Johnson, suggesting that major
Addressing Cobb's lineage, Leerhleaguers be required to dull their
sharp new spikes and that spikes be sen writes, "Rare indeed is the redneck whose mother descended from
checked every game by an umpire
relatively genteel, upper-middle-class
for excessive sharpness.
* To be sure, Cobb had his share of stock and whose father was, in Ty's
fights-"Ty Cobb took even less guff words, 'a scholar, state senator, editor
and philosopher,' not to mention an
than the most take-no-guff guy on
advocate for the oppressed." (Ty's
your Christmas list," writes Leerhfather, W.H. Cobb, was shot to death
sen-but brawling wasn't uncomwhen Ty was just 18; his mother,
mon in baseball in the early 1900s.
Amanda Cobb, was tried in the case
Players fought with each other, with
and found not guilty.)
umpires and occasionally with fans.
* The first record of Ty Cobb-who
* The label of Cobb as a racist redwas descended from a long line of
neck most likely stemmed from the
fact he was born in 1886 in abolitionists-being quoted about
integrating baseball didn't come until
Georgia rather than from
1952, five years after Jackie Robinson
any series of incidents. In
(also a Georgia native, from Cairo)
fact, Leerhsen's examinabroke the major leagues'
color barrier. "The Negro
Julie Ridgway is the director of the Ty Cobb Museum in
Royston, where author Charles Leerhsen spent several
days doing research and later returned for a wellattended book-signing. "He's a rare jewel," she says.
"I was in awe of how hard he worked."
Ty Cobb Museum
Ty Cobb, who died in 1961, shares a mausoleum at Royston's Rose Hill Cemetery with his
parents and sister Florence.
More online at www.georgiamagazine.org
461 Cook St., Royston
The museum is in the Joe A.
Adams Professional Building of
the Ty Cobb Healthcare System.
Ty Cobb's Burial Site
Rose Hill Cemetery
Highway 17 South, Royston
way things worked out."
Cobb's family is certainly happy
"This is the first book about
my grandfather that I've been able
to finish from front to back," says
Cindy Cobb, one of the baseball
legend's grandchildren. "Everything
else I started, I just knew they got it
wrong; they made things up."
Julie Ridgway, director of the Ty
Cobb Museum in Royston, is equally
effusive with her praise for the book.
"We consider it the fair authority on Ty Cobb," Ridgway says. "Ty
Cobb is a unique individual. He
wasn't a saint, but he wasn't a demon, either."
Wesley Fricks, national Ty Cobb
historian and a Royston resident, is
another one on board with Leerhsen's portrayal.
"It has gone a long way in helping what has been my lifelong goal,
which is to restore Ty Cobb's legacy
to its original state," says Fricks. "I'm
grateful for the advancement."
Leerhsen, who has been an editor at Sports Illustrated, People and
Us Weekly and spent 11 years
at Newsweek, says he initially set out
to write a book embellishing the
portrayals of Cobb as a despicable
human being. That plan quickly
"I realized that I was going to
have to make adjustments in my pre-