Calling Good People “Racist” Isn’t New: The Case of Ty Cobb

Ruining someone’s name is very easy. So is calling them a “racist”. Take the case of Ty Cobb, one of the greatest baseball players ever. Cobb is known as a racist and a dirty ballplayer. Is it true? Charles Leerhsen, author of “Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty” sets the record straight.


The great Ty Cobb. Everything you think you know about him is a lie.

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  1. Baruchgershom
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 12:42 pm | Permalink


    I sense that there is a rush to judgment here at the expense of Cobb’s biographer, Al Stump. The legendary Washington Post sportswriter, Shirley Povich, whose career spanned from 1923 to 1998, knew Ty Cobb and knew Al Stump, who he described as “a fine writer and Cobb’s longtime biographer companion who suffered Cobb’s ugly presence to the very last of his days as a drunken, cancer-riddled diabetic wreck who abused even his nurses.” See his column, dated 1/1/1995, <a href=""<"Best Player — Not Best Man,". So, at the very least, Povich rebuts the allegation Leerhsen makes that Stump did not speak with Cobb. As for the allegation that Cobb descended from an abolitionist family doesn’t really explain anything. My father was from rural Georgia. Born just 13 years after his oldest siblings, my father was not a racist. My elder aunts and uncles, however, thought George Wallace and Lester Maddox were too moderate. Povich’s column has some nice things to say about Cobb, and some nasty personal observations as well. Not everyone raised in the same southern home back then was necessarily a racist. He is entitled to make them because he knew Cobb and had covered him for years as a player, coach and retiree. Leerhman’s quotation of Cobb’s support for Mays and black players in baseball, generally, would be better if he had provided his sources. Also, I don’t understand why he states, regarding the spiking incident at home plate, that “the photograph” supports Cobb, yet he relies on a cheap animation to show the scene he said is proven by the absent photograph.

    I see no reason to trash Cobb today — he was a man of his era — but nor do I believe he deserves to have his reputation repaired at this point. Anyway, Andrew Jackson is a much easier target than Ty Cobb.

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    • Baruchgershom
      Posted April 4, 2017 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      Sorry I messed up the hyperlink — its been awhile since I’ve used those codes. Povich’s article is here.

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    • Robert J. Avrech
      Posted April 4, 2017 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for your comment. I was wondering if you’ve read Leerhsen’s book? Perhaps there he provides sources. I heard Leerhson on the radio and he did reference quite a few primary sources.

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    • Barry
      Posted April 4, 2017 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

      I was with you until the Andrew Jackson reference. Andrew Jackson was one of my best friends growing up, and better companion you never could find. Great American too.

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  2. Bill Brandt
    Posted April 3, 2017 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Destroying a man’s legacy with lies has to be evil.

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