The “Georgia Peach” Ty Cobb, Plays In The Windy City
I wonder if baseball fans recognize greatness early on in a player’s career? Ty Cobb started his major league career with the Detroit Tigers in 1905 and had his first breakout season in 1907 at the age of 20 when he led the American League in hits, stolen bases, RBI’s and a .350 batting average. The photograph above is from 1907, taken at Southside Park in Chicago, home to the White Sox from 1900-1910. So did the fans in Chicago realize they were watching a player who would electrify baseball for the next twenty years?
One thing you notice by looking at Ty Cobb is that he had a unique batting stance. His legs and feet would many times be planted way ahead of home plate and his hands spread apart on the bat. It enabled him to spray balls all over the field and get to the pitch before it could do what the pitcher wanted it to. He hit .366, the highest career batting average ever by a major leaguer.
Here Cobb plays against the White Sox in 1908 at Southside Park in front of a packed house. Once again notice how far ahead Cobb is standing in front of the plate. One criticism of Cobb besides his nasty disposition, was that he didn’t hit a lot of home runs like Babe Ruth. Cobb bristled at that comparison, saying anyone could hit home runs, it took talent to be a spray hitter like he was.
On May 5, 1925 visiting St. Louis against the Browns, Cobb told a reporter in the dugout that “today for the first time my career I’m going to go for home runs.” The comment is apocryphal, but that day Cobb went six for six. Home runs? He hit three.