Photo courtesy:Detroit Free Press

Ty Cobb

Tyrus Raymond Cobb
Inducted to the Hall of Fame in: 2017
Connection to Michigan: Detroit Tigers 
Primary position: Outfielder


 

“The Georgia Peach” was arguably not just the Detroit Tigers’ greatest player – he was one of the greatest players in Major League Baseball’s history.

Born December 18, 1886, in The Narrows, Georgia, Ty Cobb first distinguished himself for Augusta in the South Atlantic League in 1905, drawing attention with his play in two exhibition games against the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers purchased the 18-year-old Cobb’s contract for $700, bringing him to the Major Leagues on August 30th.

It took him only two years to become the American League’s premier player. In 1907, Cobb led the Majors with a .350 batting average, 212 hits and 119 runs batted in. That began a stretch in which he won the American League batting crown nine consecutive seasons and 12 times in 13 years. By 1909, he had led the league in every category from runs to hits to doubles to triples to home runs to steals to on-base percentage to slugging percentage to total bases, while concurrently driving the Tigers into the World Series each year from 1907 through 1909.

Cobb took his performance to a new level in 1911. In 146 games, he batted .420 with a .621 slugging percentage, 248 hits, 147 runs, 47 doubles, 24 triples, 127 RBIs, 83 steals and 367 total bases. Each total ranked first among all players in the Major Leagues, earning Cobb the Triple Crown and his first and only American League Most Valuable Player award. He followed up this success by batting .409 in 1912, firmly establishing himself as the best hitter in the game – a position that he would not relinquish until the ascendance of Babe Ruth a decade later.

The Tigers installed Cobb as their player-manager from 1921 through 1926. In his first season, Detroit finished 71-82, in the sixth place in the eight-team American League. They did not finish below .500 again under Cobb’s direction, rising to third place in 1922 and 1924 and second place in 1923, only to be topped by Ruth and the New York Yankees.

Ty Cobb only played two years outside of Detroit, joining the Philadelphia Athletics in 1927 and 1928 before retiring at the age of 41. When he hung up his spikes, he held the Major League record for total bases (5,854), broken by Stan Musial in 1962; games played (3,034), broken by Hank Aaron in 1974; at-bats (11,434), broken by Hank Aaron in 1974; base hits (4,189), broken by Pete Rose in 1985; runs scored (2,244), broken by Rickey Henderson in 2001; and batting average (.366), which remains the MLB record to this day.


 
 
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