Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty

Ty Cobb was one of the greatest baseball players in history–but everything you think that you know about his off-the-field behavior is probably wrong, according to Charles Leerhsen, author of Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Leerhsen describes what made Cobb an outstanding player, insists that he wasn’t the racist lout of legend, and blames the film documentarian Ken Burns for much of the confusion.



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There are 5 comments.

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  1. Baker Member

    I was fortunate enough to attend a reading by Mr. Leehrsen at the Ty Cobb Museum in his hometown of Royston, Ga last year. My family is also originally from Royston and my cousins and such have had a particular interest in Cobb all our lives. We refused to see the Tommy Lee Jones slander and knew the popular portrait of him was inaccurate. Cobb did a lot for the community in northwest Georgia and it was spectacular – and unexpected regarding the magnitude – to read our suspicions confirmed on the many lies told about the Georgia Peach due to one overzealous writer and a media apparently devoid of fact-checking.

    Kudos to Charles Leehrsen for some dogged work on a story that could’ve just laid there and been the history but Leehrsen saw something needing correction and set about it. No one was clamoring for a book about the reputation of a man who has been dead for 50 years.

    I highly recommend the book and, if you’re ever traveling on I-85 in northwest Georgia, pop on in to Royston for a meal and stop by the Ty Cobb Museum.


    Thanks John!

    • #1
  2. Mr. Dart Member
    Mr. Dart

    Leerhsen’s work was the book of the year for 2015.  I’ve waited for decades for someone to repudiate the lies of Al Stump and Charles did it masterfully and with humor.  Anybody who loves baseball should read it. Plus, folks who just like to see an evil false narrative collapse from contact with well researched truth will love it as well.

    The true story of Ty Cobb is far more interesting than the lies of Stump, Shelton, Ken Burns et al.

    • #2
  3. Manny Member

    Great episode.  Ty Cobb has gotten a bad rap for his personality.  The reason that news article resonated in 1961 was because of the civil rights movement going on, and southern white men were assumed to be racists.  Cultural memes as they are, it stuck.  Now Ken Burns should have known better when he perpetuated the myth.  Either he was sloppy or malicious.

    • #3
  4. John Miller Contributor
    John Miller

    Thanks for listening! I learned about this book when Leerhsen visited Hillsdale College and gave one of the better talks I’ve heard on campus. His speech is adapted in the new issue of Imprimis.

    • #4
  5. Mark Thatcher

    I recently wrote a review of the Cobb book.  Reading it led me to think about how is it we know what we know?  You can read it here.

    • #5