Ty Cobb played baseball with an unyielding passion that few have ever possessed. He attacked each 90-foot stretch of the base path with determined aggression. At the plate he employed keen coordination with great eyesight and an unmatched ability to spray the baseball to all parts of the field. As a result he retired as the all-time leader in games played, runs scored, hits, total bases, stolen bases, extra-base hits, and batting average. More than eight decades after his final game, many of those records have been broken, but no player has ever approached his 12 batting titles or mind-boggling .367 career average. Rarely does a batter even hit as high as .367 in a single season, let alone for a career.
Cobb had many flaws: pettiness, jealousy, temper, cheapness, prejudice, and pride among them. But he was also generous with his money and advice to those who needed it, a southern gentleman, and a cunning businessman. He became baseball’s first millionaire – investing his baseball earnings wisely and building an empire that still benefits children in his native Georgia today with educational scholarships.
The prototypical Deadball Era ballplayer, Cobb was a master at manufacturing runs with his mind and his feet. As one sportswriter said of him, “He seems to have brains in his feet.” When he retired, no other player had stole home as many times, and Cobb performed many daring baserunning plays, including scoring from first on a single, scoring from second on fly ball outs, and stealing second, third, and home on successive pitches.
Cobb remains one of the best center fielders to ever play the game, and he rates among the top 5-10 players ever after all these years. Before the ascension of Babe Ruth and the power game in the 1920s, there was no question that Cobb was the greatest player of all-time. In 1936, when the National Baseball Hall of Fame held their first election, Cobb received more votes than any other player.