Monday, May 2, 2016

Ty Cobb, The Truth


For John, BLUFThis was an eye opener.  Nothing to see here; just move along.



Writing at the InstaPundit, Mr Ed Driscoll brings our attention to a City Journal article by Mr Paul Beston, "A Wronged Man".  The sub-headline is "Taking the spikes off Ty Cobb".

Here is the lede:

What will they say about us when we’re gone?  We’ve all wondered at one point or another.  But in the age of social media, in which seemingly everyone wants to be a star, we should keep in mind that being remembered can have more pitfalls than being forgotten.
It reminds me of Billie Holliday and "Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone".

Here is the background:

Consider Ty Cobb, one of American sports’ legendary characters, whose greatness on the baseball diamond—he played from 1905 to 1928, mostly for the Detroit Tigers—was eventually overshadowed by stories about his fanatical racism and violence, which, in some accounts, even included homicide.  Over two generations, Cobb has been portrayed as a virtual psychotic in articles, books, and films, including Ron Shelton’s 1994 feature starring Tommy Lee Jones and Ken Burns’s epic, 18-hour documentary, Baseball, in which Cobb plays the villain to Jackie Robinson’s hero.

There’s only one problem: this venomous character is predominantly fictional.  In Ty Cobb:  A Terrible Beauty, published last year, Charles Leerhsen documents how Cobb’s wicked reputation largely dates to the years after his death in 1961, when sportswriter Al Stump created a mythical Cobb—“Ty the Ripper,” Leerhsen calls him—who displaced the real man in the public mind.  Stump’s motives for spinning tall tales seem to have been financial.  He had ghostwritten a careless autobiography for Cobb, who tried to stop its publication before his death.  The book sold poorly, but Stump earned a handsome fee for a lurid magazine article filled with falsehoods, dubious quotes, and made-up incidents.  Other writers repeated or expanded on these untruths over the years. “The repetition felt like evidence,” Leerhsen says.  It was “well known,” director Shelton told Leerhsen, that Cobb had killed “as many as” three people, though the director didn’t explain how this was known.  Drawing on Stump’s work, as well as a 1984 biography by Charles Alexander, Burns also helped enshrine Cobb’s demonic image.

And then there is the truth, such as Ty Cobb going to Negro League games and saying, in 1952, that the leagues should be integrated through and through.

But, then, you may not have ever heard of Ty Cobb.

A great ball player.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

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