50 YEARS of SUBVERSION, COBB STILL ENDURES! Writers Betrayed Hall of Famer, Ruined his Legacy.
By WESLEY FRICKS
The TY COBB Historian
Tampa, Fla., July 17, 2011 – It was 50 years ago today that Ty Cobb made his final out. And for the last five decades, everyone imaginable has tried to portray him as all things except who he indeed was - the greatest baseball player of all-time.
Lest we forget, he was voted on as the first player inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum, even ahead of Babe Ruth!
It all began in 1959, two years after Ty had returned to his native state of Georgia to live out his days as a country squire, as he called it. That is when he contacted Doubleday to help assist him in finding a suitable writer that could help him put his life story in ink. His efforts were to “set the record straight.”
Al Stump was a writer who graduated from the University of Washington and who was viewed as a risky guy willing to take a chance at some new venture. Stump worked as a sportswriter for the Vancouver Columbian and the Portland Oregonian and was famous for having many “ghostly apparition hanging over his keyboard.” Yes, Stump loved to drink and drink a lot!
Stump and Cobb began work on the book titled, “My Life In Baseball – The True Record” which is now, believed by many, to be the best written record of the famed Georgia Peach and his life as the master of the baseball diamond.
However, Stump had other plans!
Stump portrayed Cobb as a drunkard, cheater, racist, prejudiced monster, and a gun-wielding idiot with a temper that shot off at the motion of a wind’s change and at a moment's notice. An image I think reflected Stump's own persona.
He was setting his sights on a fortune that he thought he could make by double crossing Cobb after his death. Double crossing came easy for the beguiling Stump, but the grand payday he sought never materialized with the first book.
Stump made up lies about Cobb and filched all that he could from a man who was dying of cancer and dying to tell his story before it was too late.
Stump couldn’t wait for Cobb to die remarking that if Cobb died before the book was finished he would write what he wanted. “I’m not going to die before the book is finished,” remarked Cobb. “I’ll write slow,” promised Stump!
It was Stump's destiny to deceive Cobb and he made no small efforts to purge all of Cobb’s belongings from his two prolific estates in Lake Tahoe, Nevada and Atherton, California.
Stump took all of Cobb’s letterheads, stationary and other personal effects and stored them where he could sell them off later for a handsome price.
To make matters more outrageous, he began to forge hundreds, if not thousands of letters, notes and other handwritings and signed Cobb’s name on them and sold them to anyone who would believe that they were authentic.
He went as far as to use Cobb’s traditional green ink for most of his handwriting forgeries.
The most recent discoveries were diaries from 1942 and 1946 that Stump allegedly said belonged to Cobb. There are three known 1946 diaries out there that the possessors believe they had the original because of the “green ink.”
However, a closer examination of all three diaries clearly shows that the exact same handwriting was reproduced on each of the three diaries. Stump was a proficient forger and sold all of these diaries illegally.
Stump’s lies were rooted so deeply in both of his books; the second one was released a year or more before his death in 1994, that it would take excessive space to detail it all. However, one thing is certain, the fuse is being consumed quickly for Stump. The tide is slowly turning on the thiefmaster and his secret, which he thought would never be revealed.
But Stump wasn’t the only deceiver of Cobb’s. Ohio University history professor, Charles Alexander, followed Stump’s first book in 1985 with a few falsities of his own. In his book, “Ty Cobb,” Alexander chose to fabricate stories of Cobb’s run in with blacks to make Cobb look like a racist.
Alexander once told this writer that he was at a disadvantage because of the lack of technology at the time, but I am not buying into such an ineffectual and vain pardon from someone of his caliber.
There is enough circumstantial evidence to lead one to believe that these writers had the same information available to them as we have now. It may not have been quiet as easy to access before, but they still had it.
It is obvious to see by some of the information that Alexander did present in his book that he knew most of what we know, but chose to interpret things to his own choosing.
Such as when Cobb’s father had been accidentally shot and killed by his Mrs. Cobb. Alexander stated that Mrs. Cobb had gotten a “shotgun” from the corner of the room and fired it at someone trying to “raise the window” from the “porch roof” of their home.
To put matters in perspective, Mrs. Cobb was acquitted of murder in the Franklin County Superior Court on March 31, 1906, as she rightfully should have been. Mrs. Cobb herself gave a statement to the coroner’s jury stating that she mistook her husband for an intruder and shot him through the window with her pistol while he was standing in the yard.
“I retired about 10 o’clock,” said Mrs. Cobb to a coroner’s jury shortly after the accident, “and woke up sometime during the night. I heard a kind of rustling noise at the lower window of my room,” she continued. “I got up and got my pistol.”
There was no porch roof, there was no shotgun and there was never a lover as claimed by Alexander in his book. He had Mrs. Cobb’s statement prior to writing his book and he chose to select the information he wished to publish that seemed most suitable for him in trying to establish a sensational circumstance. This gave the author optimal control to lead his story in an unfavorable direction for the Cobb family.
He was also determined to make Cobb out to be a manic, “a creature without normal motivation,” as he stated it.
Stump and Alexander had followers to their displaced lunatic and extremely impractical phenomena.
Richard Bak, of Detroit, shadowed Stump and Alexander stating that Cobb was a “Mean S.O.B.” and Bak tried earnestly to settle his personal fight with the north and south through his book on Ty Cobb.
The lesson to his readers on race relations in Georgia, or the south in general, were more of his fantasy than it was facts.
On page 19 of his 2005 revised version of his former edition, “Ty Cobb: His Tumultuous Life And Times,” Bak stated that “Ty and his father both read the ‘Journal’ religiously during its race-baiting heyday.”
Bak continued that their racial attitudes were shaped by, or “reinforced” by the paper's “sensational views and inflammatory rhetoric.” Contrary to Bak’s belief that Professor W.H. Cobb supported a servile attitude toward blacks he more so, advocated a broader education for blacks in the state of Georgia.
In a speech he gave at a Georgia Agriculture Society Convention in Thomasville in August 1901, Mr. Cobb addressed the subject social equalities and the future Georgia would face with its race relations.
“History teaches us that three systems of controlling the people of a Government have been tried, slavery, serfdom and education; that the first two have been dismal failures,” said the elaborated Cobb. “That the educational system of governing a people by training up the children in the way they should go and teaching them to control themselves is the greatest political discovery of the ages.”
He continued that the “slate and pencil were more efficient implement of true weal than the hangman’s knot and the policeman’s club.”
He also gave his prophecies for the state’s future racial solutions stating that the “day would come in Georgia when it would be absolutely necessary to preserve the equilibrium of social forces.”
Professor Cobb was very close to an outspoken and prominent Whig party member who was one of the last remaining voters in Georgia that elected Abraham Lincoln as our 16th president.
Professor Cobb was editor of the paper owned by this fellow citizen who installed the first black census taker in the county.
Professor Cobb fought for the rights to give equal education to the black population in Georgia and took on abolitionists views toward blacks.
This was an oversight on all former Cobb authors or was it? Didn’t they have access to the same information? Why did they choose to omit such pertinent information about the subject of their eventual credibility? Why did they not chose not to publish these positive points and details about Cobb’s life?
I believe they never foresaw the advancement of technology and they never suspected that someone would come along and discover their secrets. Their secrets being that they published all these lies for their own gain at the expense of the greatest player in baseball history.
The secrets of how they had information and they chose to employ “select information authorship,” a method used in publishing a portion of the story and leaving out key information that would have balanced the scale of their story. This works until someone discovers the use of this strategy.
However, because of these findings and additional discoveries to come, Al Stump, Charles Alexander and Richard Bak will soon be placed in the same category as liars, cheats and forgers, destine to be set aside as an implausible Cobb resource and a new wave of stories and facts will surface to permanently stand solid for Ty Cobb’s reputation. This will lend a much needed hand in giving his legacy final justice and restoration to its original state.
It has been 50 years to the day that Ty Cobb made his final out.
The day was a somber occurrence in Royston and the rest of northeast Georgia as baseball’s most prominent performer made his way home from the private service held for him in Cornelia, Ga. The session traveled 27 miles to Royston to a mausoleum he had built for his family to rest in eternally.
Stump said that he took Ty to the Cobb mausoleum on a snowy Christmas Eve in 1960. He also claims that Cobb got extremely furious because he could not find the family mausoleum that he had built. To begin with, no accounts exist that prove it snowed on Christmas Eve that year.
And there is no area of the graveyard where the Cobb Mausoleum is not visible. It is huge and sits on a hill near the highest point in the graveyard. I use to live four blocks away from there and I could see Cobb’s mausoleum from my upstairs bedroom window.
Stump was also the first to point out that Cobb only had three players to attend his funeral. There was a good reason for this. You see, the Cobb family made public requests that the service be held private and ask members of Major League Baseball not to attend. Articles detailing the request were run in select media outlets.
The family did not want Cobb’s funeral to be a fiasco like Babe Ruth’s funeral turned out to be. Most will remember that hundreds of thousands lined up outside St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York as the chaos unraveled.
There were three of Cobb’s real close friends that were allowed to attend as honorary pallbearers, Cochran, Schalk and Nap Rucker. Also in attendance was Sid Keener, the then director of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Unknown to most, many of Cobb’s contemporaries had already died by 1961. Ruth died in 1948, Speaker in 1958, Connie Mack in 1956, Hugh Jennings in 1928, Walter Johnson in 1946 and Honus Wagner in 1955. Cobb had simply outlived most of his leaguemates.
The famous Georgian has endured so much more since his death than he ever had during his lifetime. Maybe someday, somewhere, people will want to believe the facts over the lies and deceit, an injuctice he has been granted by these gold-digging writers.
All the lies written about Cobb have now been woven into baseball history and taken as the truth, believed to be supreme over actual and official written documents.
But the unveiling of Al Stump's deception, a misdeed he has lived and died with, will continue to surface and haunt the writer's legacy. The FBI investigation into these forged documents will remain active as new allegations arise.
There are museums in several states that are removing the Stump-forged pieces from displays and historians are sharing and trading information, and acknowledging that Stump was a firsthand fraud.
He lied about Mrs. Cobb shooting her husband with a shotgun. A story Stump concocted because of his beloved idol, Ernest Hemingway, had used a shotgun to kill himself two weeks before Cobb’s death and during the time when Stump was finishing up the book. It is noteworthy to say that Stump was the first writer to claim the shotgun story.
Fifty years of believing Al Stump’s version has made it difficult for those who believe that the truth will prevail, but I do see the turning of the page and the reversal of the tide. I am confident that the ending to the Stump era is eminent and Ty Cobb will once again remain supreme in the annals of baseball history.
I believe in justice and I believe that people generally want to know the truth and eventually more people will research this subject thoroughly, and more extensively, and determine that the facts will stand to model on their own merit and supersede the decaying, paltry and cunning larceny .
I believe that Stump will pay for his horrendous crime of ruining Cobb’s reputation more than 50 years ago and soon will be tried in public opinion as new allegations are bound to be unearthed.
But nevertheless, Ty Cobb's memory will continue to endure even after the Al Stump era vanishes now that he has been exposed for his lies, pilfering and forgeries.
Hopefully, now we can close the Al Stump period and move on to more reliable sources and get the facts out to the public for the historical intentions of preserving baseball's long and revered past.
Long lived the Prince of Baseball !