Georgia Magazine - April 2017 - 19C
Ty Cobb's last days
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LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
insight into his life both on and off
Teeslink recalls that, even
though Cobb's prostate cancer had
spread to his bones and he was in
a great deal of pain, he remained a
"A wife of an old friend came
to see him," says Teeslink. "Even
though he had difficulty getting out
of bed, he struggled and stood up
when she came in."
Cobb was taking medicine
for the pain but did not want to
become addicted, says Teeslink, so
he went off the pills for 24 hours.
Teeslink says Cobb, who strove "to
be the best at whatever he did,"
wanted to prove to himself that
he could endure the pain without
Teeslink spent more than 40
years as a vascular and interventional radiologist and started that
section at the Medical College of
Georgia in Augusta in 1968. He now
is designing and developing medical
devices to be used in treating blood
vessel diseases. Although his work
in the medical field enabled him
to meet a lot of brilliant doctors,
he says they don't measure up to
"Ty Cobb may be the smartest person I've ever known,"
he says. "He was obsessed with
learning. He was reading all the
Cobb left the hospital
twice during that final stay, and
Teeslink drove him both times.
The first trip was to the Atlanta
"He was a history buff. He
always thought it was a neat
depiction of the history of Atlanta," Teeslink says.
The second trip occurred
later in Cobb's hospital stay,
when his condition had
According to the Sporting News, Ty Cobb, left, once worsened. Even so, he went
told Joe Jackson: "Whenever I got the idea that I
to Royston to give a speech
was a good hitter, I'd stop and take a good look at
when billboards in his honor
you. Then I knew I could stand some improvement." were dedicated. During that
More online at www.georgiamagazine.org
r. Rex Teeslink was a medical student in 1961 when he
spent two months at Emory
University Hospital in Atlanta with
a dying patient who left a lasting
impression on him.
Teeslink, now 82, spent 24
hours a day, seven days a week,
with baseball great Ty Cobb in his
hospital room until The Georgia
Peach died on July 17, 1961. Cobb
was suffering from prostate cancer,
diabetes and other ailments. Like
many others who had personal interactions with Cobb, Teeslink paints
a much different picture than the
self-perpetuating, negative stories.
"He was an unbelievably kind
and caring person, but you had to
know him to know who Ty really
was," says Teeslink, who became
well-acquainted with Cobb the previous summer, when he visited the
ballplayer's residence frequently.
At the hospital, he slept on a
cot in Cobb's room and, because
the dying baseball legend slept only
three hours a night, gained much
Dr. Rex Teeslink holds the last ball Ty Cobb
signed before he passed away in 1961.
Teeslink, who was then a medical student,
stayed with Cobb in the Hall of Famer's hospital room the last two months of his life.
trip, Cobb directed Teeslink to Rose
Hill Cemetery to show the young
medical student the mausoleum that
would be his eventual resting place.
(His parents and sister also are interred there.)
According to Teeslink, Cobb
wanted all the pallbearers at his
funeral to be given numbers, which
would correspond with the number
of times they should knock when
visiting the ballplayer's crypt. That
way, Cobb would know who was
Teeslink says he didn't want to
be paid for being Cobb's hospital
companion, but Cobb would have
none of that.
"He said, 'I want to write you a
check for what you think it's been
worth staying with me.' I said, 'Ty,
money can't possibly repay what it's
been worth to me staying here.' He
said, 'But you've gotta go back to
"He signed a blank check
and left it for me. I filled it for the
amount I had made the summer
before, working for Del Monte food
products in DeKalb, Ill."
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