Ty Cobb and the Lost Art of Stealing Home
With all due respect to Cal Ripken Jr., Joe DiMaggio, and Hank Aaron (yes, Aaron, not Bonds), the most unbeatable, and perhaps astounding, record in all of baseball is held by a man named Ty Cobb.
Cobb, who played from 1905 to 1928, most memorably for the Detroit Tigers, set a record for stealing home by accomplishing the feat an amazing 54 times during his career, the most infamous coming in game two of the 1909 World Series.
The next closest total is Max Carrey, who did it 33 times.
For all their achievements; Ripken with 2,632 consecutive games played, DiMaggio with his 56-game hit streak, and Aaron with 755 home runs; none are as telling as Cobbs' mark.
Stealing home, after all, is the most exciting play in baseball.
If memory serves me correctly, the last successful attempted steal of home plate was by a Benny "The Jet" Rodriguez for the Los Angeles Dodgers back in 1993.
Ok, so maybe it wasn't that long ago, but you get the idea.
Stealing home is an extreme rarity. Cobb, however, pulled it off 54 times!
It's well documented that Cobb wasn't the most likable person. He was constantly at war with teammates, media, and even fans. But his style of play on the field was well respected (as recognized with his inaugural induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame, out-voting the likes of Babe Ruth and Honus Wagner), his grit and determination being just as fierce as his anger in those clubhouse spats.
He was the originally Manny Being Manny.
The problem is,stealing home has never been an officially documented statistic, and thus lies the problem; if not officially tracked, it can't be officially recognized.
The most exciting play in baseball, perhaps in all of sports, isn't even counted among the Major League Baseball record book.
Not that it matters. There's no reason to believe that any player will ever match that mark, officially or otherwise. It just doesn't happen often enough for it to be a reasonable expectation.
The home runs, they'll always be there.
With a little luck and perseverance, you never have to miss a game.
A few have come close to matching the 56 game hit streak, and it's only a matter of time before somebody topples it.
But stealing home? It's such a rare event, like spotting Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. You just don't see it in this day and age.
So while all of the hoopla surrounds the big three records, all of which are just as equally deserving, let's not forget Cobb's legendary mark.
He patented stealing home just as much as the other guys did with their respected talents.
Now it's time to show him some love.
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