Friday, July 17, 2015

Ty Cobb Passes Away on July 17, 1961

On This Day in Baseball History July 17, 1961: One of professional Baseball's best, most intense and controversial players Tyrus Raymond Cobb passed away at the age of 74 in Atlanta, Georgia.

The man simply known as Ty amassed an amazing number of accomplishments in his 24-year Baseball career. At the time of his retirement after the 1928 season, Cobb finished with a still league high .366 career batting average, 4,189 hits (724 2B/295 3B/117 HR) and 1933 RBI. Cobb had a career slash line of .366/.433/.512 with an OPS of .945. What was most impressive about Cobb's accomplishments is that he led the league in batting 12-times with a never a batting average under .324 and hit over .400 three times.

Cobb would gain 98.2% of the vote in the inaugural National Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 1936. In doing so, he was the top vote-getter in a class that included such players as Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson.

Cobb would pass away of complications from diabetes and chronic heart disease at Emory University Hospital.

The following opinion piece was printed in the July 18, 1961 New York Times and I believe epitomizes who Ty Cobb the Baseball player was in conjunction with two of his contemporaries: Christy Mathewson and Babe Ruth:
Baseball as well as all sport has lost one of its great figures in the death of Tyrus Raymond Cobb. As with two of his outstanding contemporaries, the late Christy Mathewson and Babe Ruth, his was a name which became synonymous with America's national pastime. Curiously, each of these three was cast in his own mold.
The handsome Matty was the ideal American boy, the type that every mother hopes her son some day would emulate. The flamboyant Babe the uninhibited child of nature whose amazing exploits on the field, mixed with his engaging frankness and wayward habits, endeared himself to the public and made him the greatest attraction the game had ever known.
And Cobb, the Georgia Peach, epitomized the flaming spirit of youth. In Ty the will to win was ever uppermost. He set more records in baseball than any man who ever lived. But the setting of records, as such, meant very little to him. 
They were merely the accumulation of statistics compiled as he drove himself from day to day to live by the only code he knew. That was to play every afternoon a little harder and a little better than he had the day before. Victory was his only goal and to gain it he spared neither himself nor his adversaries. He knew no excuse for defeat. 
Some players are once in a generation. Some are once in a lifetime. Cobb was unique. There will only be one Ty Cobb.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

For Further Reading:

Here are a series of articles printed in the July 18, 1961 edition of the New York Times reflecting back on the legacy of Ty Cobb

- Ty Cobb, Baseball Great, Dies
Cobb, Hailed as Greatest Player in History, Mourned by Baseball World
- Sports of The Times: The Cobb We Knew by John Drebinger
Ty Cobb