Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Baseball Place No. 44: Ty Cobb Museum; No. 44A: Ty Cobb plaque and statue, Comerica Park

Can you separate the player from the person?

That’s the struggle with Ty Cobb. Clearly he’s one of the best players to ever play the game.

But he’s also remembered as a racist hot head pushed by his inner demons to fight and claw his way to being the best.

Folks in Cobb’s hometown of Royston, Ga. work pretty hard to tell about his softer side. He donated hundreds of thousands of dollars for scholarships, and contributed to a hospital in his hometown that is now Ty Cobb Healthcare System.

Josh Pahigian tags the Ty Cobb Museum on the medical center’s campus as spot No. 44 in his “101 Baseball Places to See Before You Strike Out.”

I didn’t get to see the museum on my pass through Georgia, but I have seen how the Detroit Tigers have worked to honor Cobb.

Alternative spots No. 44: Cobb plaque and statue Comerica Park

My favorite meeting spot at Tiger Stadium was the large Ty Cobb plaque that hung outside near the team’s offices. Everyone knew where it was.

Tyrus Ryamond Cobb
1886 – 1961
Greatest Tiger of them all
A genius in spikes

But that was about the only reference to the player that you saw, and he was rarely spoken about. Not that the Yankees are a model of proper behavior, but you couldn’t swing a foam No. 1 finger without hitting some reference to the Bambino.

Showing off my sweet game-used Bristol Tigers jersey before the final game at Tiger Stadium.

The plaque moved to Comerica Park in time for the All-Star Game in 2005, but it hung on the abandoned Tiger Stadium for five years after the team moved.

Here’s a good trivia question. Who was the last major-leaguer to play a game without wearing a uniform number? That would be Gabe Kapler.

For the final game of Tiger Stadium, the starting lineup wore the number of the best Tiger to play at their position. Cobb played before players wore numbers, and Kapler trotted out to centerfield without one on his back.

The Peach was one of the players honored with statues in the new park, and the team didn’t duck the reputation. He’s depicted sliding into a base with spikes high.


JLC 1863 said...

beautiful stadium. Horrible city...

Confluence City said...

I like to field imaginary baseball teams along just about any premise. Ty Cobb makes my team of all-time best names. "Ty Cobb". I could say it like a mantra.

And interesting that baseball was played during the Civil War and Indian Wars and was a thoroughly racist institution like almost all American institutions at those times, yet Cobb's racism is the one that gets singled out. I do it too.

Wonder why.

Mets Guy in Michigan said...

Good call. Kenesaw Mountain Landis openly kept blacks out of the game for decades, yet no one calls him "the racist commissioner."