Review of New Cobb Bio Rings Ancient Bells

“Hurt somebody? – Me?
Why, I wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

A new book on Ty Cobb, “TY COBB: A Terrible Beauty,” by Charles Leerhsen now rises as a defense of Ty Cobb the man, according to reviewer John Williams of the New York Times, but the reviewer pretty much denigrates the effort by his assessment of the author as a clumsy defender who relies too much on “rhetorical furniture” in an excessive defense of Cobb on the positive side of things.  That may well be. I haven’t yet read the book to argue things point-by-point, but my experience with the literate treatment of people known fairly equivalently for their professional accomplishments and their personal detestabilties is that no names come to mind when it comes to those who have been written out of the jerk mode and into the beloved superhero level of things.


Back on March 21, 2010, I wrote a column entitled, “Did Ty Cobb Get Away with Murder?” It was one in which I did rely upon my considerable professional experience working with impulsive violent personality disorders who had been convicted of felonies for violent acts ranging from simple bar-room battery to first degree murder into writing the following conclusion about Ty Cobb:

“Ty Cobb also was a violent personality disorder who just happened to have also been the arguably greatest ballplayer of all time. Society just never pinned a murder conviction on him. Even these kinds of people come with variable levels of intelligence. Ty Cobb had the intelligence, power, influence, and money to have bought his way out of much trouble along the way. We don’t know if he did, or not, but the possibility is there. It can neither be proven nor dismissed.”

– “Did Ty Cobb Get Away with Murder?”, The Pecan Park Eagle, March 21, 2010


My conclusions  were never intended as a judgment of guilty for Ty Cobb on a murder charge, but as a considered opinion that he could have killed someone easier than most people under the right circumstances, given the tendencies seen all the time in his behavior under the influence of  anger toward others.

As for the new book, the old bells it rings are always he same, regardless of the author’s perspective on Ty Cobb:

(1) Should Ty Cobb’s character and violent behavior have kept him from the Hall of Fame, regardless of his unparalleled batting accomplishments? If not, how are Joe Jackson and Pete Rose any worse than Cobb for that matter. Sure, Rose bet on his team to win, committing the great mortal sin of baseball, but Ty Cobb and fellow Hall of Famer allegedly were rescued by Commissioner Landis in the late 1920s for supposedly arranging a game bet that could have proved quite embarrassing to the game had the old judge, as some think, not found a quiet way of sweeping everything under the rug. And this was the same commissioner who banned Joe Jackson from baseball for life from baseball for allegedly having participated in a fix of the 1919 World Series, even though he batted .375 in the Series for the White Sox and was later found not guilty in a court of law.

(2) Get this: We don’t think anyone should get a walk for betting on baseball, but given the individual circumstances of each case, and the obvious compulsive/addictive behavior of Pete Rose, hasn’t he repaired his life and suffered enough infamy from his conviction by the court of baseball? What good purpose does it serve to keep the greatest hit total leader and one of the greatest hustling forces in the game’s history out of the Hall of Fame and the recognition he deserves for his accomplishments?

(3) Should character and felonious behavior block any player from the Hall of Fame? If so what do we do with all the dirty members who got into the Hall in spite of their personal records as members of society?

Those are old, old bells, friends, but they never seem to attract any new answers that are broad enough in support to pass muster for any kind of positive change in the Hall of Fame criteria or their positions on certain currently banned or ignored groups of players..  All it takes to resurrect the questions is for someone to write a new book on Ty Cobb – or a few other obvious player subjects.


3 Responses to “Review of New Cobb Bio Rings Ancient Bells”

  1. bphughes66 Says:

    This guy says Ty Cobb did the same thing as Shoeless Joe and Pete RosDate: Thu, 28 May 2015 03:05:53 +0000 To:

  2. Cliff Blau Says:

    As for Joe Jackson’s “allegedly having participated in a fix of the 1919 World Series”, he testified under oath that he did. There’s no “allegedly” about it.

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      I knew you were out there somewhere, Cliff. 🙂 The next thing you’re going to tell me is that defendants who sign written confessions are routinely found innocent or have their charges dismissed when the evidence of confession suddenly disappears from storage in the Chicago court where their trial is taking place.

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