Ty Cobb Death Anniversary Sparks Effort to Improve His Image

DETROIT, July 15 /TMRZoo.com/ — Forty-seven years after the death of Ty Cobb, a Michigan author has launched an effort to resurrect the image of the “Georgia Peach.”

“Ty Cobb is the most maligned sports figure in American history,” said Tom Stanton, author of Ty and The Babe (2008, St. Martin’s Griffin). “A fan from his era would not recognize Cobb based on how he is portrayed today. He has been reduced to a cliche — as the Satan of baseball — and it is absolutely inaccurate.”

In his time, Cobb was idolized by fans, respected by opponents, and viewed by sportswriters as the game’s greatest player. Born and raised in Georgia, Cobb spent 22 of his 24 seasons with the Detroit Tigers, winning a record 12 batting titles and amassing an unparalleled .367 lifetime batting average.

“Ty Cobb died in 1961,” said Stanton. “Obviously, he’s not done anything to diminish his own reputation since then. But his image continues to spiral downward. Every time a scandal shakes baseball, someone offers up Cobb as evidence of baseball’s dark side. It is unfair and unfortunate, because there was much more to the man than his fierce competitive nature.”

Further, according to Stanton, many stories about Cobb are false or exaggerated. “He didn’t sharpen his spikes, he never killed a man, and he had friends who cared about him,” he said.

On Thursday, July 17 — the anniversary of Cobb’s 1961 death — friends and family members will honor Cobb’s philanthropy with a ceremony at the Royston, Georgia, cemetery where his tomb is located. (Cobb’s wealth funded a hospital and more than a million dollars in scholarships.)

As part of his “Ty Cobb Reputation Reformation Campaign,” Stanton is offering free “Ty Cobb — Still a Peach” bumper stickers. If interested, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to P.O. Box 636, New Baltimore, MI 48047.

Stanton’s book Ty and The Babe, a finalist for Publishers Weekly’s Quill Award, explores the relationship between Cobb and Babe Ruth, baseball’s two most famous legends. Though rivals on the ball field, they became friends late in life. In an ironic twist, the historic ballparks where they spent most of their careers — Tiger Stadium and Yankee Stadium — are being demolished this year.

Stanton is author of four baseball books, including the Tiger Stadium memoir The Final Season. He may be reached through his website, www.tomstanton.com.