“The Georgia Peach” was anything but a peach, on and off the diamond. While playing semi-pro ball as a teenager in Tennessee, Cobb drummed up fake publicity about his baseball skills and leaked them to the Atlanta Journal. It worked, however, as he got noticed, signed with the Tigers and quite simply became the greatest Tiger of all time.
Three weeks before his debut with Detroit, his mother was suspected of cheating on his father, so his father sneaked up to the bedroom window to catch her in the act. Thinking it was an intruder, Mrs. Cobb blew his head off with a shotgun. Cobb later attributed his ferocious play to the death of his father, saying, "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." Cobb was also an extreme racist off the field.
Despite all of his personality faults, Cobb was often considered part of a two-horse race for the best baseball player of his generation, along with Pittsburgh’s Honus Wagner. Both Cobb and Wagner are conservatively considered among the best baseball players of any era.
Cobb set 90 records during his playing career, several of which still stand today. His lifetime .367 batting average is still a major league best, as are his 12 batting titles. Cobb hit over .300 in 23 consecutive seasons, a major league record that will never be broken. Ty holds the record for most career steals of home plate with 54. Four times in his career he made it to first base only to steal second, third and then home.
He is third all-time in stolen bases in MLB history behind Rickey Henderson and Lou Brock with 892, second to Pete Rose in hits with 4,191 and second to Rickey Henderson in runs with 2,245. Cobb leads all Tigers in at-bats (10,586), hits (3,902), batting average (.369), runs (2,087), doubles (664), triples (286), RBI’s (1,805), stolen bases (865), on base percentage (.424) and total bases (5,471). He is second to Al Kaline in games played with 2,806. Cobb also struck out just 329 times while with the Tigers. Perhaps the finest season of Cobb’s career was in 1911, when he hit .420 with 47 doubles, 24 triples, eight homers, 147 runs, 127 RBI’s, 248 hits and 83 stolen bases.
In 1936 Cobb was voted to the inaugural Hall of Fame class, with an unbelievable 98.2% of the vote.