Ty Cobb is known as two things: one of the most well-rounded baseball players ever and the meanest athlete of all time. Some historians believe he is a disgrace to baseball. I agree with all three. However, I know why he was such a jerk off.
Cobb had a very unstable family life. He was from an odd family in Narrows, GA. His dad was very demanding, strict, and rude, like Cobb. His mother was very stubborn and rude as well.
His mom, Amanda, was just 15 when she got pregnant with Cobb's father. Cobb's dad made well in life, was successful. He wanted his son to be successful also. He wanted his son to succeed as either a lawyer, doctor, or in the military.
Cobb was a racist. There is no getting around that. But, before you say anything about how racist he was, think about the product of his environment and also think of when he lived. He lived in a racist time and in a racist place. He was brought up with all whites. He played baseball on all white teams, made the few friends he had with whites, and his parents were both white.
My philosophy is: Cobb just wanted to do it for his dad. After leaving for the minors, Cobb's father said "Don't come home a failure." I think saying that literally changed Cobb's life.
Cobb would do anything to prove to his dad his success. That included playing dirty. Anything he could do to win and prove himself to his father. Cobb admitted it himself.
"I did it for my father. He never got to see me play...but I knew he was watching me, and I never let him down".
I'm sure he wanted to prove himself a man. Like all of us, he didn't want to have to fall back on his father for support; he wanted to do it himself. He was so crazed with proving his father wrong that he forged letters from coaches saying how talented he was and gave them to a sportswriter, Grantland Rice. Rice raved about Cobb and that's when he was called up to the majors.
I also believe the hazing he received as a rookie made him ferocious and made him think someone was always ganging up on him. "These old-timers turned me into a snarling wildcat."
When Cobb's dad was murdered by his mother, I'm sure Cobb was traumatized. I'm sure as a kid, he wanted to believe everything was alright between the parents.
Trust me from experience, we all want to believe that as young kids.
Cobb's mom once said: "Nothing young Tyrus could do ever seemed to satisfy him [Ty's father]." I'm sure that if he became the best, his dad might be satisfied with him. When his dad died, he already had that "win at all costs" attitude.
Also, since Cobb had no one to confide in, he took out all his anger on the baseball field. And sometimes in the stands, when he beat up a man in the stands for shouting racial slurs at him, calling him half black, which was viewed as an insult.
In elementary school, Cobb beat up a kid because he made an error, allowing the girls team to win a fifth grade softball match. I'm also sure Cobb wanted to show his dad that he wanted to win and he would do it any way possible.
So before you say "Ty Cobb was a disgrace to baseball" think about his rough upbringing, his dad being killed by his mom, and how his dad put determination in him in a wrong way.
While he may always be viewed as a disgrace, Cobb had a very hard life and fought every day. He just wanted to impress his father.