Ty Cobb Resigns with the Tigers for $4,000!

Ty Cobb Resigns with the Tigers for $4,000!

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 Ty Cobb Resigns with the Tigers, 1908!

“I often tried plays that looked recklessly daring, maybe even silly. But I never tried anything foolish when a game was at stake, only when we were far ahead or far behind. I did it to study how the other team reacted, filing away in my mind any observations for future use.” —Ty Cobb

 One hundred nine years ago today, March 21, 1908, Ty Cobb resigned with the Tigers for $4000, with an $800 bonus if he hits over .300.  I’d say this turned out to be quite a bargain for the Tigers. Here’s a few words about Hall-of-Fame career and his great season of 1911:

 Over his 24-year career (1905-1938), Cobb played for the Tigers (1905-1926), and the Athletics (1927-28). He batted .367 (1st all-time), with 4191 hits (2nd all-time), 117 home runs, 1938 RBIs (8th all-time), 892 stolen bases (4th all-time), 2244 runs (2nd all-time), 724 doubles (4th all-time), a .433 on-base percentage (8th all-time), .512 slugging average, and 5854 total bases (5th all-time). His 163 OPS+ is 10th all-time and well above the major league average of 100. He was the American League MVP in 1911, the American League Triple Crown winner in 1909, a 12-time American League batting champion (1st all-time), and a four-time RBI leader.

 He still holds the career record for stealing home (54 times), and was the youngest player to compile 4,000 hits and score 2,000 runs. Cobb ranks fifth all-time in number of games played and committed 271 errors, the most by any American League outfielder.

 Ty Cobb’s Great 1911 Season

Ty Cobb led the American League in 1911 in numerous categories, including 248 hits, 147 runs scored, 127 RBI, 83 stolen bases, 47 doubles, 24 triples, a .621 slugging percentage, and a 40-game hitting streak. Cobb hit eight home runs but finished second in that category to Frank Baker, who hit eleven. He was awarded a second Chalmers car, this time for being voted the American League MVP by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Shoeless Joe Jackson led him by .009 points in the batting race late in the season. Near the end of the campaign, Cobb’s Tigers had a long series against Jackson’s Cleveland Naps. Fellow Southerners Cobb and Jackson were personally friendly both on and off the field. Cobb used that friendship to his advantage. Cobb ignored Jackson when Jackson tried to say anything to him. When Jackson persisted, Cobb snapped angrily back at him, making him wonder what he could have done to enrage Cobb, who felt that it was these mind games that caused Jackson to “fall off” to a final average of .408, twelve points lower than Cobb’s .420, a twentieth-century record which stood until Rogers Hornsby surpassed it with .424, which is the record since then.

-Gary Livacari

 Photo Credit: Colorization by Graig Kreindler: www.graigkreindler.com/; Other photos from Google search

 Statistics from Baseball Reference.com

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I'm a baseball historian who also loves to write. My forte is identifying ballplayers in old photos, and my specail interest is the Dead Ball Era.

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