The Slander of Ty Cobb

Gary North alerted me to the sad story of Ty Cobb – a man who was rather thin-skinned and quick to anger, but certainly not the vicious racist, murderer, and the cheating bastard depicted in the media… a depiction solidified by the profit-seeking fabrications of one man.

Most media depictions of the man are rooted in a pack of lies written by his ghostwriter, Al Stump. Regrettably for Cobb, he had always been ready to fight and intimidate men on and off the field, and this aggression had been built up over the decades to something ugly – and when Cobb in his dying years finally decided that merely being rich wasn’t enough, he was given a ghostwriter who was far more interested in getting more sales and money in his pocket than in setting the record straight.

An odd truth: Ty Cobb was from Georgia, and born in 1886. Of course, every white man born at the time was a racist, right? Charles Leerhsen, clearing the air, writes:

But what about Cobb’s 19th-century Southern roots? How could someone born in Georgia in 1886 not be a racist? What I found—and again, not because I am the Babe Ruth of researchers, but because I actually did some research—is that Ty Cobb was descended from a long line of abolitionists. His great-grandfather was a minister who preached against slavery and was run out of town for it. His grandfather refused to fight in the Confederate army because of the slavery issue. And his father was an educator and state senator who spoke up for his black constituents and is known to have once broken up a lynch mob.

Cobb himself was never asked about segregation until 1952, when the Texas League was integrating, and Sporting News asked him what he thought. “The Negro should be accepted wholeheartedly, and not grudgingly,” he said. “The Negro has the right to play professional baseball and whose [sic] to say he has not?” By that time he had attended many Negro league games, sometimes throwing out the first ball and often sitting in the dugout with the players. He is quoted as saying that Willie Mays was the only modern-day player he’d pay to see and that Roy Campanella was the ballplayer that reminded him most of himself.

Open and clear, published contempt against a public figure was a new thing in 1961. Even in 1961, the press was both quite liberal and eager to attack those who can’t defend themselves, so Ty Cobb – who didn’t deserve the attacks – was slandered, and not John Kennedy’s whoredom – which was carefully and seamlessly protected by The Guardians of Truth and the Watchdogs of the Public.

The same lying dogs that shape and lead the Establishment Press then, lead our Opinion Shapers today. Fortunately, despite their public and government successes, the Internet gives voice to alternative narratives.

I guess it’s me versus Al Stump. Who knows who will win?

Before the Internet, Leerhsen wouldn’t have stood a chance. “Liberals don’t censor by burning books… they just make sure that they are never published.” Now, things are different.

Now, the truth has a fighting chance.



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