Ty Cobb: Through the Eyes of an Atlanta Batboy, Part I

Wesley FricksAnalyst IAugust 6, 2008

       Featuring Georgia Native, Ty Cobb's Batboy, Jimmy F. Lanier

      "This is the absolute pinnacle of my association with Ty Cobb."


                                 Aug. 6, 2008   -  Atlanta, Georgia 

James F. Lanier, who became a batboy for the Detroit Tigers in 1925 and '26, grew up in Ty Cobb's neighborhood in Augusta, GA, where he was born in 1914. He soon developed a friendship with Ty's middle son, Herschel Cobb, and that relationship lasted until Herschel died in the early '50s.

As he grew older Lanier became close to Herschel's dad, The Georgia Peach, Ty Cobb. "It’s a great humility that I can share with you my close friendship with this great man. I asked Mr. Cobb hundreds of questions as a boy and as a man. He always answered me. He never turned me away or said, 'I don’t have time to talk to you.'"

"Our association was about as close as a father-son relation could be. I loved Mr. Cobb and he loved me. I know that,” claimed Lanier.

“I can’t recall the first time I saw my mother or my father. And I can’t recall the first time I saw Ty Cobb. He was a neighbor—he was always there."

"My home was just a few doors away from the Cobb home in Augusta, GA,” claimed the 87-year old from his Buckhead home outside of Atlanta.

Mr. Lanier is a retired salesman for Glidden Paints out of Atlanta and gladly gives speeches to different churches and civic groups throughout his community and the surrounding Atlanta areas.

I recall, in 1999, when I was contacted by Major League Baseball Productions, for an interview at Turner Field for the All-Century Team video, that Jimmy Lanier not only accepted my request to meet me there, but showed up with great enthusiasm and also was interviewed.

Another time, when I was giving a presentation on "the Georgia Peach" at a symposium at the Georgia Perimeter College in Atlanta, Mr. Lanier showed up and spent several hours entertaining people with his close association with baseball’s fiercest competitor.

I remember Mr. Lanier at the age of 84, playing on my golf team at the First Annual Ty Cobb Memorial Golf Tournament in Hartwell, GA. We played 18 holes of golf, which benefited the Ty Cobb Museum in his hometown of Royston.   

At Mr. Lanier's age, I was very courteous to him, trying not to let him walk long distances to get his ball, but he insisted.  

The museum is part of the Ty Cobb Healthcare Systems, Inc. of northeast Georgia and to this day has treated hundreds of thousands of citizens of Cobb's native state.

And when Ty left Royston to play with the Augusta Tourist of the old Sally League, he soon would set up residence there to raise his family. This is where Jimmy Lanier made a friend that gave him the job as the Tigers' batboy.

"Ty Cobb: Through the Eyes of an Atlanta Batboy." Part II: "Jimmy-my-boy, How Would You Like To Be the Batboy?"