File Size: 21865 KB
Print Length: 465 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (May 12, 2015)
Publication Date: May 12, 2015
Largely thanks to scholarship that emerged only at the very conclusion of Cobb’s life (and interestingly, at odds with evidence from much earlier periods) his reputation is that of a unhappy, friendless, racist lout. When call him by his name is invoked today, it’s usually to denounce the hypocrisy of the Hall of Fame’s alleged “character clause” (“if the Hall really cared about character, they’d kick Cobb out”). Yet as Leerhsen notes this flies in the face of the straightforward fact that Cobb was not only in the very first Hall of Fame class, but received more votes than any other player including Hottie Ruth, belying the notion that he was disliked by his contemporaries. African-Americans who personally knew him were quoted as saying they not only liked your pet, but loved him. Therefore , where did the myth commence and why does it continue? An important part of A Awful Beauty is helping us to understand how baseball has gotten a essential part from the own story so wrong.
Time and time again, Leerhsen peels back again numerous myths and subjects them to painstaking scrutiny. He accepts nothing at face value. His cautious use of evidence leaves us a much better understanding of this complicated man who was the best player of football in its purest form. The particular Cobb that emerges in Leerhsen’s mixture of resource, history and literature (for it is brilliantly written as well) is a interesting contradiction. Having been a man who exploited any recognized weakness on the basketball field without a second thought. A fielder in what he (and other players of the era) considered his “right of way” on the camp pathways did so at the risk of important injury. But the same Cobb would also plead for leniency for a man who had thieved his car and got great pains to answer his fan mail carefully with advice, signing autographs and mailing photos, even courteously thanking the article writer for the honor of the request.
Leerhsen’s readers are also treated to a superb description of the era in which Cobb played (a essential aspect of his history given how different the game was prior to 1920 when runs were scarce and home runs almost non-existent). Cobb’s perseverance first to get on base (lifetime OBP of. 433) and move along the base paths until he scored (second only to Ricky Henderson in lifetime runs) was unparalleled. He was a serious student of the game who lacked the natural gifts of the Joe Jackson, but compensated by mind and intensity. His greatest satisfaction was solving the puzzles of the diamond, and outsmarting opponents.
Cobb was no saint. This individual got into his share of fights when his Southern sensibilities were turned on, but given what a rough and brutal age group it was in general, and the behaviour typical of the very blue dog collar class from which basketball players generally emerged, he or she was not atypical of his generation in this regard. Leehsen’s mastery of the times in which Cobb lived is immensely illuminating as no part of the Cobb myth is spared his careful appraisal. Given how manifestly incorrect our current perception of Ty Cobb is, then, this may be the most important baseball history publication to have been published in years., Ty Cobb's reputation had been destroyed over the years by people who wanted a villain in baseball and by one person particularly (Al Stump) who made the better part of career off ruining Cobb's reputation. The particular low point in all of it was Ron Shelton's film " Cobb" (based on Stump's input) where Cobb was pictured as a rapist, alcoholic, a murderer and medicine addict who casually photo off guns in discos without consequence if he had not been being racist or correcting baseball games. Stump's reputation was destroyed a few years ago by revelations that he created large of fake Cobb items and forged documents when he sold to collectors. That somewhat set the stage for a reappraisal of Cobb's life going back to solid primary sources. Leerhsen's publication is a very welcome corrective.
He does what was necessary. He includes out all the assumptions and beliefs about Cobb. He examines what we actually know of his life from solid options and he compares his findings to the reports of previous authors. This individual shows a far more complicated Cobb. Cobb didn't play baseball as a game. He saw two competitions in every " game". The team is trying to beat the other team but at the same time, every player on a team is in competition within the team for their " spot" or their position. He was a man who went all out in whatever he did and didn't have any passionate notions about sports.
But the private Cobb outside of business and the " game" was often a generous man and a responsible man in conditions of obligations. Its fairly outside of modern anticipations that the private life and business/public life of an individual can be so different. And yet that is Cobb.
Leerhsen demolishes nearly all of the old stories that made Cobb into a racist fanatic. Almost all of the reports conclusion up having no solid basis in truth. Cobb's history, particularly in pension, is filled with examples of your pet speaking in favor of integration in baseball. The particular bloodthirsty lunatic created by Al Stump is point by point done away with by the publication.
But the real man isn't made perfect. This individual got into fights. He made enemies. He treated football like a war. But rather a story of a evil or crazy man, the author ends up telling the story of a complicated man. The particular book leaves the reader after somewhat with implicit questions about how exactly far is actually much in conditions of competition and the literal will to win. What is the price of personal greatness?
When he maybe didn't sharpen his spikes, he was still going to use any every form of intimidation on the football field. But as much as that was him, it was also that era. He might have done it better but he or she wasn't the only one doing it.
Its also worth noting that this is one of two excellent books published about Cobb this year. Tim Hornbaker's " War on the Basepaths" is equally good. The particular difference between the two books is that while Leerhsen acts almost as a defense lawyer making a positive advantages of Cobb, Hornbaker in his publication acts far more like a judge weighing facts impartially and carefully with regard to many of the famous incidents in Cobb's life.
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