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Did Ty Cobb Call His Shot in St. Louis In '25? New Information Strongly Suggests That He Did Indeed

On May 5, 1925 in a game versus the St. Louis Browns played at Sportsman’s Park III in St. Louis, the then 38 year-old Ty Cobb went 6 for 6 at the plate with three homeruns, one double and two singles. In all Cobb collected a total of 16 bases, establishing a new major league record for most bases in a single game. The following day Cobb hit two more homeruns and was 3 for 6 at the plate, bringing his two-day hit total to nine and his total bases to 25- a feat that had never been accomplished before. Cobb had also matched Cap Anson’s five homers in two-days-record set back in 1884.

At the time it was reported that on top of the single-game and two-game records that Cobb had set, the 12-time American League batting champion had also broken several significant major league career records. Reports were that over the two days Cobb had surpassed the great Honus Wagner for career extra bases on hits with 1,456. Also according to the reporting at the time, Cobb’s two singles on May 5 brought his career singles total to 2,695, the most ever hit by a major league player. His career total bases which were reported to be 5,139 were also a new major league record as were his new career hit total (3,684) and new career runs scored total (1,951).

Years later better record keeping would reveal that Cobb had established some of those records prior to the 1925 season; however, that was yet to be known. At any rate, Cobb’s production during those two days in St. Louis was a big deal at the time, so much so that according to Harry Bullion of the Detroit Free Press, telegrams had “poured into Tigers headquarters (1),” to congratulate Cobb. Bullion:

“From every compass point of the country came yellow slips paying tribute to the Georgian’s wonderful batting streak here that shattered records…they were from sporting editors in various parts of the north, east, south and west, from hero-worshipping fans, business associates of the Georgian, executives of great cities and bankers….Mayor John W. Smith, of Detroit, didn’t forget to send his congratulations. George Maines (Captain George H. Maines) informed the Peach that the whole of the baseball world was talking about his achievements (2).”

Prior to Cobb, only four other players had hit three homeruns in a single game in the modern era (post 1900): George Kelly of the New York Giants, Ken Williams of the St. Louis Browns, Cy Williams of the Philadelphia Phillies, and Butch Henline also of the Phillies. Unlike Cobb though, these players were known to be power hitters and had benefitted greatly during the “live ball era” that began in 1920. Despite the new livelier ball that was being used in the majors and the benefits it afforded to players who hit for power, specifically Babe Ruth, Cobb still preferred “scientific hitting” i.e. hitting for a high average or playing “small ball,” something that he had done so brilliantly throughout his career.

However, multiple sources have Cobb putting aside his scientific hitting for that May three-game series in St. Louis and instead opting to hit for power. Making the Cobb/St. Louis homerun barrage story even more interesting is that said sources have Cobb stating his intention to hit more homeruns prior to the beginning of the series. In essence, sources have Cobb “calling his shot.” For example, in the book: Ty Cobb, author Charles C. Alexander has Cobb telling sportswriters that he would be “going for homeruns for the first time (3),” in his career. Alexander’s account is borrowed from other sources telling a similar story.

However, did Ty Cobb really state that he would be trying to hit homeruns during that series in St. Louis prior to going out and having one of the greatest days at the plate in major league history? If so, what did Cobb exactly do to hit more homeruns? To answer such questions, a good place to start would be the actual source if possible which in this case would be Cobb himself, rather than relying on biographies chock-full with hearsay that have sourced previous biographies chock-full with hearsay. Fortunately Cobb had spoken on the record regarding that 1925 series versus the St. Louis Browns.

One of the first of many Ty Cobb biographies was My Life in Baseball: The True Record, authored by Cobb himself in collaboration with writer Al Stump which was released on September 1, 1961, just weeks after the passing of Cobb. In that book contains the following passage in which Cobb spoke about the May 1925 series in St. Louis, specifically how he was able to hit for more power:

Cobb at the Plate Using the Split-Grip

“Loss of power through choking up? The statement is laughable. In 1925 when I’d been twenty years in the American League, and was thirty-eight years old, Detroit played a series in St. Louis. The newspapers were saying that Cobb might be all right as a hitter, but he couldn’t deliver the king-sized wallop like Babe Ruth. My homerun productions never passed a dozen a year, whereas Ruth was in the 40’s and 50’s. I’d been hearing this so long that it nettled me. ‘Boys,’ I said to some sportswriters, “the next two days, I’m going to give you a little demonstration. Just to settle a point, I think you’re missing. On May 5th, I hit three homeruns against the Browns. The next day I had two more. Two other shots struck right at top of the stands and fell back for doubles…it silenced most of the critics (4).”

What Cobb wanted to demonstrate to the writers was that he could still use the grip on his bat that he had used for so long pre-1920 and still hit for power; save for one adjustment. Cobb:

“I was demonstrating that there was power aplenty in my style of holding a bat. With the choke grip, I merely slid my left hand down the wood as the pitcher delivered and locked it with my right and took a full swing. The grip I recommend has endless adaptiveness, as this incident should prove. I was content to let Ruth have his homers and stick with scientific hitting. Babe also struck out a record 1,330 times, a mark I’d rather not have against my name (5).”

Despite the explanation, according to Cobb, the sportswriters still had “missed the point (6).” Indeed, and almost 100 years later, writers are still missing the point. Take for example ESPN senior writer David Schoenfield. In a 2012 column Schoenfield wrote the following, “Why did Cobb wait until 1925 -- when he was 38 years old -- to show he could ‘clout with the musclemen’ if he wanted?” If Schoenfield actually did a little research beforehand, he would have known that that wasn’t exactly what Cobb said. Schoenfield can’t be blamed entirely for his ignorance. After all, he may have been relying on subsequent Cobb biographies, biographies that have proven to be inaccurate, for his information which we’ll eventually get to.

One who did not miss the point Cobb was trying to make was long-time major league umpire Billy Evans. Evans was the home plate umpire in the May 5th game in which Cobb hit his three homeruns. Evans provided the most thorough first-hand account on record of Cobb’s hitting in that series in St. Louis.

At the time, on top of umpiring, Evans was also writing a weekly syndicated newspaper column. Just days after the series in St. Louis had concluded; Evans, who incidentally had a prior history with Cobb, as the two once came to blows in September of 1921, corroborated most of what Cobb had claimed in his autobiography 35 years after the fact. Below is an excerpt from Evans’ column that appeared in newspapers on May 14, 1925:

Longtime AL Umpire Billy Evans

“I called balls and strikes in the game in which Cobb made his six hits in as many time at bat. It was a most remarkable performance on the part of the veteran. He missed a fourth homerun by a matter of inches. His two-base hit just failed to clear the right field barrier in St. Louis…A strong wind was blowing the ball in the direction of the short right field bleachers at St. Louis. Cobb picked balls that he could pull to right field. All six hits went into that territory. He’s a wonder (7).”

In another column appearing approximately one month later, Evans further elaborated on Cobb’s performance in St. Louis:

“After Cobb had made his fifth homerun, I remarked to him that his stance and swing reminded me of the old days when he was the terror of all American League pitching….He smiled broadly at my compliment that he was cutting at the ball like the olden days and trotted to his position in the outfield. At the close of the inning he stopped at the coach’s box and made this comment to me: ‘It pleases me to hear you that I look like the Ty of old…During the first 15 years of my career I always used a spread grip at the bat, my hands about six inches apart. Aside from being my natural style, I early learned that such a grip enabled the batsman to effectively combat most any style of pitching by also shifting the stance at the same time. For a time I rather ridiculed the slugging style made famous by Babe Ruth. However, the great popularity of the system called me to fall for it. It is a well-known fact that all sluggers grab the bat at the very end with the hands close together. This enables them to get a long free swing at the ball….the style always seemed awkward to me (8).’”

Evans’ claim of Cobb having said he had “fallen for it,” was in reference to Cobb temporarily scrapping choking up on the bat sometime in 1920/21 i.e. the beginning of baseball’s live ball era. In fact in September of 1921 the St. Louis Star and Times reported that, “Ty Cobb has changed his batting style. Ty now swings from the handle and is getting extra base drives, whereas he used to choke up and be satisfied with singles, which he stretched to doubles when opposing fielders were not on their toes. Ty has figured it out that hard-hit balls this year will go safe for extra bases and is out to prove it (9).”

Ty Hitting During Spring of '21- Hands Closer to Knob?

However, in 1925 Cobb had decided to revert back to choking up on the bat and/or using the “split grip.” According to Billy Evans, Cobb made that decision during the Tigers’ series in St. Louis. In yet another column shortly after the Tigers/Browns May series, Evans elaborated further on his conversation with Cobb: “’I’m not hitting my weight,’ continued Cobb, ‘so I think I will go back to my old style at the bat. You know when I was doing my best batting my grip called for my hands to be widely separated. Foolishly I have been holding both hands at the extreme end of the bat in order to get a full swing at the ball, so as to get all possible distance to my drives (10).”

In St. Louis, Cobb proved that he could still hit for power while choking up on the bat. That was Cobb’s point. Cobb wasn’t necessarily out to prove that he could hit homeruns whenever he wanted to. Recall what Cobb had said in his first biography with Stump; “I was demonstrating that there was power aplenty in my style of holding a bat.” Billy Evans, who provided a first-hand account only days after the series, did not mention Cobb setting out to prove that he could hit homeruns whenever he wanted to or that Cobb could keep up with the Babe in the homerun department. Instead Evans wrote about Cobb changing his grip on the bat to hit for power, thus corroborating most of what Cobb had claimed.

The only thing that Evans did not corroborate was Cobb’s claim that he informed “some sportswriters” prior to the game played on May 5 of his intention to demonstrate that he could hit for power using the choke grip. Cobb did not mention the names of these sportswriters in his original biography. However, Al Stump, Cobb’s collaborator in his first autobiography, did specifically mention two names in his 1994 controversial rewrite Cobb: A Biography. According to Stump:

“After the Tigers blew a fifteen-inning game to Cleveland, and after Cobb singled twice and doubled in a St. Louis defeat, he made history by putting together the most astonishing number of long hits of the century, setting marks that are still in the 1994 record books. Furthermore, he did it after calling his shots in advance, before some dozen witnesses.

It had begun on May 5 during batting practice at St. Louis when Sid Keener of the St. Louis Star and Harry Salsinger of the Detroit News approached him for an interview. Cobb was cold. He frowned at the reporters. ‘I’m surprised you boys want to talk to me,’ he said, ‘since you’re so impressed by the homerun.’

‘Now Ty,’ said Keener. ‘We know things are rough right now. But we just want to ask about how you’re feeling.’

Cobb had just come off the sick list-influenza-and it showed. He replied for everyone to within earshot to hear, ‘Gentleman, pay close attention today. I’ll show you something new. For the first time in my life, I will be deliberately going for homeruns. For years I’ve been reading comparisons about how others hit, as against my style. So I’m going to give you a demonstration (11).’”

Over the years, Stump’s credibility has come into question. However, Stump did spend a considerable amount of time with Cobb so in this case, he should not be dismissed entirely. Stump’s account though does contain errors and possible mistruths which may or may not have been entirely Stump’s fault. To begin with, the Tigers did not blow a fifteen-inning game to Cleveland prior to their series in St. Louis. Detroit though did lose two games to the Indians in extra-innings, blowing leads of three runs and five runs in the process. The last game of the series was a 6-6 suspended-game tie. The Tigers blew a four-run lead in that game. It’s a minor error on Stump’s part but an error at that.

Controversial Author Al Stump

Stump then claimed that it was writers Sid Keener and Harry Salsinger among others present at the time Cobb declared that he would “be deliberately going for homeruns.” As you may recall, Cobb did not mention any writers’ names in his account. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Stump was mistaken. Cobb may have told Stump the names of the writers but failed to mention them in his first autobiography. However, there are reasons to believe that Sid Keener was not one of the writers that Cobb supposedly declared his intentions to prior to his homerun outburst in St. Louis.

As Stump had mentioned, Keener was a writer for the St. Louis Star and Times and Salsinger wrote for the Detroit Press. Both were admirers of Cobb. Keener wrote for the Times until 1951. He then served as Hall of Fame director from 1952 to 1963. He died in January of 1981. Harry George (H.G.) Salsinger wrote for the Detroit News up until his passing in November of 1958. In terms of Keener no articles written by him mentioning Cobb “deliberately going for homeruns” in St. Louis pre-1961 or pre-Cobb’s death can be found.

Cobb died on July 17, 1961. Sid Keener’s first mention of Cobb’s 1925 series in St. Louis appeared in the papers on July 23, 1961, six days following Cobb’s death and three years after Salsinger’s death. Soon after Cobb’s death, Keener was asked to reflect on Cobb’s career. With respect to the 1925 series in St. Louis Keener was quoted as saying the following:

“I’ll never forget the day in 1925 when the Tigers were playing in St. Louis. The press at the time was playing up Babe Ruth as the ‘King of Swat.’ Many needled Cobb by pointing out that any player could hit singles; that it was the long ball that counted.

Cobb was real hot. ‘Sid,’ he told me. ‘I’ll show’em.’ And he did. He hit three homeruns. And he added two more the next day. He was a marvel (12).”

In December of 1961, Keener wrote an article for the Sporting News (TSN) celebrating Cobb’s career. The article was in-part a response to a scurrilous piece written by Al Stump about Cobb that appeared in True Magazine earlier that month. In that TSN article titled “Scribe-Pal Goes to Bat for Cobb,” Keener once again recalled the events leading up to Cobb’s “homerun binge” in St. Louis. In it Keener claimed to have met up with Cobb on the Detroit bench prior to Cobb’s three-homerun game on May 5:

“The date was May 5, 1925 at Sportsman’s Park, home of the Cardinals and Browns in St. Louis. ‘Come right in,’ greeted Ty…He was seated next to his favorite sports writer, the late H.G. (Harry) Salsinger of the Detroit News. Ty was swinging three bats. ‘I’ve been talking here with Sal,’ continued Ty. ‘I’ve been reading these stories for many years about Ty. They say I get my base-hits on infield grounders and little bunts. The big guy, oh you know, Babe Ruth, he socks those homeruns. “I’ll show you something today. I’m going for more homeruns for the first time in my career. See, I’m limbering up, swinging these bats.’…Two hours and ten minutes later Ty Cobb established another batting record, a record for slugging or fence busting (13).”

These two mentions by Keener- his interview shortly after Cobb’s death and the December 1961 TSN article five months later are the earliest attributed to Keener on the record. Throughout his career Keener had plenty of opportunities to write about Cobb’s five homeruns over the two days in St. Louis but apparently did not.

For example in a June 1939 article, shortly after Cobb had made his first public appearance in years to celebrate Cooperstown N.Y.’s “Centennial Celebration,” Keener failed to mention May 5, 1925, the day Keener years later claimed that he would “never forget.” Instead Keener chose to write about Cobb’s experience in New York back in 1920, just days after Yankees’ pitcher Carl Mays had hit Cleveland Indians’ shortstop Ray Chapman with an errant pitch that eventually led to Chapman’s death. At that time Cobb was quoted, incorrectly of course, that Mays should be run out of baseball which drew the ire of Yankee fans.

Longtime Sportswriter Sid Keener

Keener had written about how Cobb had to overcome the “deafening jeers of 55,000 people,” but still ended up going five for five at the plate. According to Keener Cobb hit two singles, two doubles and a homerun. Keener though was incorrect. Cobb actually hit four singles and one double. However, had Cobb hit the two doubles and homerun to go along with his two singles as Keener had claimed, Cobb’s exploits at the plate in New York in 1920 were still not on the same level as his three-homerun day in 1925, especially if Cobb had stated beforehand that he would be “going for more homeruns.” Moreover, Cobb had achieved several career milestones that day and had broken or tied two long standing records. Oddly enough though, instead of writing about Cobb’s day in ’25 where he supposedly told Keener he would be trying to hit homeruns, Keener chose to write about Cobb’s day in 1920.

Of note, Cobb never mentioned Sid Keener in his original 1961 biography which means that either Stump had mistakenly placed Keener on the field in St. Louis in May of ’25 or Keener had provided Stump with inaccurate information. Cobb though did mention Salsinger, the other writer Keener claimed to be present when Cobb made his “going for homeruns” declaration. However, Cobb’s mention of Salsinger had nothing to do with the 1925 series in St. Louis. Like Keener, Salsinger was a big supporter of Cobb. Unlike Keener though, Salsinger is on the record with respect to Cobb’s homerun declaration in 1925 prior to Cobb’s death.

In the winter of 1950, the Associated Press (AP) polled 300 sportswriters/sportscasters as to who they believed to be the greatest baseball player of all-time. Babe Ruth finished first in the poll. As a result, TSN asked Salsinger, who believed Ty Cobb to be the greatest ballplayer of all-time, to weigh-in on the debate by writing a series of Cobb articles. TSN also requested writer Fred G. Lieb, who believed Ruth to be the greatest, to provide his perspective. Salsinger’s series of articles ran in the spring/summer of 1950.

In his May 24, 1950 article Salsinger wrote the following:

“Because of his batting style, Cobb was not a distance hitter and never pretended to be one. The hullabaloo over Ruth’s batting-might and the rest of it finally nettled Cobb. That was in 1925. He declared it was not a great feat to hit homeruns and if he concentrated on hitting them he could produce a sizeable number.

The Tigers were playing in St. Louis and Cobb promised to give a demonstration of homerun hitting. He did. He hit three on May 5 and two on May 6, tying a record that Cap Anson had set and that had stood for 41 years…

After demonstrating that he could hit homeruns if he set out to hit them, Cobb returned to his accustomed style (14).”

The Detroit News' H. G. Salsinger

Salsinger’s account is very similar to what Cobb had written approximately 11 years later. Salsinger mentioned Cobb changing his style of batting although he did not go into as much detail as Cobb or for that matter, Billy Evans had. Interestingly, both Salsinger and Cobb had used the word “nettled” in their retelling of the incident. Salsinger was friendly with Cobb so the idea that Salsinger may have fabricated the part of the story in which Cobb announced that he would be trying to hit more homeruns is a possibility. After all, the purpose of Salsinger’s TSN articles was to prove that Cobb was the greatest ballplayer of all-time. Cobb then could have borrowed what Salsinger wrote eleven years prior to embellish the story for his auto-biography.

However, that may not be the case. Apparently, Keener and Salsinger were not the only ones to have made the Cobb-declaring-that-he-would-be-hitting-homeruns claim. Another writer that made a similar claim was famed sports columnist Grantland Rice. Rice was a sportswriter for over 50 years. For 23 years Rice wrote a syndicated column which appeared in over 100 newspapers. Rice too was close to Cobb. In fact, Cobb had called Rice a, “close friend” and his “favorite author” in his autobiography. In an October 1951 column, Rice wrote the following:

“I recall a conversation many years ago between Cobb and Ring Lardner Senior. ‘If I wanted to take a full swing and go after homeruns, I could have had my share,’ Cobb said.

‘Why don’t you?’ Ring said. Lardner was a great Cobb rooter, over the Babe or anyone else.

In the next two days in St. Louis, Cobb got three homeruns the first game and two in the second, as I recall it- Five homeruns in two games.

‘How is that?’ Cobb wired Ring. ‘Go back to hitting and running,’ Ring wired. ‘I like you better that way (15).’”

Ring Lardner Senior was a sportswriter and a writer of fiction. Lardner was the first writer to receive the J.G. Taylor Spink Award after Spink himself had been honored with the award. The award recognizes “meritorious contributions to baseball.” Lardner received the award posthumously in 1963; he had died 30 years earlier. In Lardner’s novel “You Know Me Al” which is about a fictitious ballplayer, Cobb appears as a character in the book. Like Salsinger and Rice, Lardner was a big admirer of Cobb.

Ty's "Close Friend" and "Favorite Author- Grantland Rice

Although there is no record of Lardner writing about Cobb’s three homerun game, Rice’s account rings (no pun intended) true. Rice and Lardner were friends and were often in each other’s company. Also Harry Bullion of the Detroit Free Press mentioned Lardner wiring Cobb to congratulate him for his historic series in St. Louis. “Your highness must be feeling much better today (16),” is what Bullion reported Lardner had wired to Cobb. Rice also mentioned Lardner wiring Cobb.

Ken Stambaugh, who may be the most credible of all those who have told the story of Cobb in St. Louis in May of 1925, is yet another person on the record with respect to Cobb declaring that he would be trying to intentionally hit homeruns. Stambaugh’s claim pre-dates Stump and Keener’s claims by 17 years, Rice by seven years and Salsinger by six years. In 1944 Stambaugh, who at the time was described by the Atlanta Constitution as a “well-known cinematographer,” wrote the following letter to the paper in response to a previous Cobb article:

“Your article, ‘The Amazing Cobb’ causes me to impose this note on your probably already tired sports optics. ‘Homeruns’ always suggest Babe Ruth, yet one late afternoon, when driving in Cleveland, Ohio, the great Georgian remarked: ‘Home run hitting isn’t so difficult. I just haven’t gone in for that style of batting, and to prove my point in the two games we play with the Browns, I’m going to slug at that rabbit ball. You watch the boxscore.’

Well I did. Result: Ty Cobb at bat nine times. Doubles three and homeruns five, a world’s record for consecutive games….Ty dropped me a postcard with one line- ‘See what I mean?’

The remarkable part of the incident, to me, was that he believed ahead of time he could do it-and put himself on the spot by saying so, and then coming through (17).”

Stambaugh was born in Demorest, Georgia but for a time lived in Cleveland. According to the Cobb biography: War on the Basepaths: the Definitive Biography of Ty Cobb, written by Tom Hornbaker, Stambaugh was a “longtime friend” of Cobb and the two would often spend time together while Cobb and the Tigers were in Cleveland which lends credence to Stambaugh’s account. If you recall, just prior to their series in St. Louis, Cobb and the Tigers were playing the Indians in Cleveland.

Therefore not only does Stambaugh’s claim pre-date all others by at least six years, the Detroit Tigers 1925 schedule place Cobb in Cleveland, Stambaugh’s place of residence just prior to Cobb playing in the St. Louis series. Therefore there is a possibility that Stambaugh spent time with Cobb in Cleveland prior to the St. Louis series as he had claimed in his letter to the Atlanta Constitution. Stambaugh writing that Cobb “put himself on the spot,” may be a reference that after Cobb told Stambaugh he’d be going for homeruns, he said the same to several sportswriters.

And if Cobb was going to “go for more homeruns,” St. Louis’ Sportsman’s Park would be the place to do so. After all Sportsman’s Park was a tremendous hitter’s park, especially for left-handed hitters given its short right-field fence which stood just 310 feet away from home plate. Cobb hit more homeruns at Sportsman’s over his career than any other ballpark, including his home-park, Navin Field. For his career, Cobb hit one homerun for every 42 plate appearances at Sportsman’s Park, second only to his one homerun for every 30 plate appearances hit at Yankee Stadium.

Moreover, three years earlier, Cobb was a first-hand witness as to the damage a left-hander hitter could do at Sportsman’s Park. As previously mentioned, Cobb’s three homeruns in a game tied a record set by among others, Browns right fielder Ken Williams. Williams hit his three homeruns in one game at Sportsman’s versus the White Sox. Two days later Cobb and the Tigers were in St. Louis for a three-game series. Williams proceeded to hit two homeruns in the first two games versus the Tigers which gave him six dingers over four days, tying a record Babe Ruth had set the year prior.

The Incomparable Ty Cobb Taking a Cut

Also, heading into the 1925 season, Cobb had been suffering with a bout of influenza which caused him to miss a large portion of the month of April. According to Stump, Cobb had “just come off the sick list-influenza-and it showed.” Cobb though did not make that claim in his version of the events. According to reports at the time, Cobb did have the flu in early April of ’25 but had overcome the illness later that month. However, by then Cobb was experiencing issues with his legs that dated back to the previous season. According to an April 26th George Chadwick column, “It isn’t his (Cobb’s) trilbies that are bothering him. It is his legs. And until they are in condition to enable him to perform in his best style, he is wise to keep out of the game (18).” Player/manager Cobb ignored Chadwick’s advice and returned to the Detroit line-up on April 27. At the time the Tigers were off to a miserable 3-10 start.

With Cobb having difficulty running and the Tigers heading for St. Louis to play in a park perfectly suited for hitters that could pull the ball down the short-right field line, it would make perfect sense for a heady player like Cobb to try and hit homeruns in that series. If you recall, that is exactly what Billy Evans had claimed Cobb had done- “Cobb picked balls that he could pull to right field (19).” And nobody had a better vantage point that day than Evans, what with Evans behind the plate calling balls and strikes.

There is very little doubt that Cobb changed his grip in the series in St. Louis with the purpose to hit for more power. In that regard, Cobb’s version of what happened in St. Louis in May of ’25 is corroborated by American League umpire Billy Evans. There is also a strong possibility that Cobb did indeed inform at least two writers that he would be, at the very least, trying to hit for more power in St. Louis- H.G. Salsinger and Grantland Rice. Both writers’ accounts are credible, especially Rice’s version given that Rice also wrote about Cobb changing his swing which is what Evans had claimed almost immediately after the series in St. Louis had concluded. Both accounts were also reported while Cobb was alive. The same could be said of the Ken Stambaugh account, although Stambaugh did not specifically mention Cobb informing the press of his intentions. However, he may have implied it.

On the other hand the Stump/Sid Keener version has come into question. That version was written after Cobb’s death. In the case of Keener, nothing can be found on the record with respect to Keener having written about Cobb’s 1925 series in St. Louis prior to 1961. Until something can be found, the Stump/Keener version should not be sourced in future Cobb biographies or for articles recalling Cobb’s tremendous two days in St. Louis in 1925.


The Detroit Free Press: May 8, 1925 (1, 2, 16)

Ty Cobb: Charles C. Alexander (3)

My Life in Baseball: The True Record (September 1961) (4, 5, 6)

Des Moines Tribune: May 14, 1925 (7, 19)

Arizona Daily Star: June 19, 1925 (8)

St. Louis Star & Times: September 4, 1921 (9)

The Lima News: November 29, 1925 (10)

Cobb: A Biography, Al Stump (11)

Democrat & Chronicle: July 23, 1961 (12)

The Sporting News: December 27, 1961 (13)

The Sporting News: May 24, 1950 (14)

Jackson Hole Courier: October 11, 1951 (15)

Atlanta Constitution: March 6, 1944 (17)

San Bernardino County Sun: April 26, 1925 (18)

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Apr 25, 2022

The original 'rabbit ball' and the dimensions of Sportsman Park was Cobb's way of demonstrating the 'ease' of that stiil relatively new brand of baseball, even for a 38 year old! A 38 year old 'swingin' for the fences' and not once striking out? Unimaginable in today's game!

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