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Cobb: A Biography Paperback – January 3, 1996

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Editorial Reviews Review

Not long before his death, Ty Cobb, as complex and haunted a human being as ever stepped onto a diamond, tapped a young writer named Al Stump to collaborate with him on his autobiography. The result, My Life in Baseball: The True Record, never came close to reaching first base; with Cobb (holder of the game's highest lifetime batting average and lowest lifetime reputation) calling the signals, it was an antiseptic whitewash, as false as its titular claim would have you believe otherwise. Hidden between the lines was the living hell that Cobb--reclusive, bitter, ravaged with cancer, in great pain, and shunned by the baseball community--put Stump through to make sure his demon-filled story was properly sanitized.

Some 30 years later, Stump brilliantly wrought his revenge with the best tool a writer can wield: absolute honesty. In Cobb, he rectifies his earlier cover-up and paints an unforgettable portrait of an unforgettable character: The Georgia Peach--pits and all. Not only does Stump painstakingly assemble the disparate pieces of Cobb's tangled personality and storied career, he also recounts in scrupulous detail the literal wild ride that comprised his months in the company of the dying baseball legend. It is, from its opening inscription ("To get along with me," Cobb told Stump, "don't increase my tension"), a tour de force, as good a sports biography as exists, and an altogether riveting telling of a riveting life. --Jeff Silverman

From Publishers Weekly

Stump, Ty Cobb's ghostwriter for the 1961 autobiography My Life in Baseball, fleshes out the story in this bare-knuckle, shocking biography. Born in Georgia in 1886, Cobb began his baseball career with the Detroit Tigers in 1905 and stayed in the big leagues until 1928-all the time hated by his rivals and teammates alike because of his meanness and combativeness. The author portrays the highlights of Cobb's career: his first batting championship in 1907; his 96 stolen bases in 1915; and his three .400 seasons in 1911, 1912 and 1922. Stump also looks at Cobb's involvement in game-fixing in 1919, his time as a manager and his activities after retiring. He died in 1961. The most sensational aspects of the book deal with Cobb's personal life: his mother's murder of his father, millionaire Cobb's cheapness (no electricity or telephone in his house), wife beating, alcoholism and racial bigotry. Stump has written a biography of the "Georgia Peach" that will stun readers with its brutal candor. Photos. 25,000 first printing.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 468 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books (January 3, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565121449
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565121447
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #194,491 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By K. D. Madden on January 15, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I just watched the movie "Cobb" which was based on this book. Very entertaining as was the book. Only trouble is, it is mostly fiction. Al Stump was an alcoholic hack who was lucky enough to get the job of ghostwriting Cobb's autobiography. Thereafter he turned this brief success into a cottage industry. A magazine article, a second book, and a movie deal, etc. All more sensational than the last. He gained a reputation as "THE Cobb Expert" and made a career out of it.

Some of the lies told in the book and screenplay:

Mickey Cochrane was portrayed as a pitiful bum who Cobb supported for many years. Cochrane's family vehemently disputes this. His wife said that Cobb once loaned Mickey some money which was repaid. Cochrane did show up at the Hall Of Fame ceremonies without a tuxedo one year simply because he didn't know he needed one and Cobb was nice enough to provide one. Cochrane was one of Cobb's closest friends. He attended Cobb's funeral. It is a shame that his reputation was besmirched after his death.

Dr. Rex Teeslink of Augusta,Georgia attended Cobb the last three months as a medical student. Dr. Teeslink says he say none of the wild behavior Stump describes. None of the others who treated him saw crazy behavior either. No one saw a gun. One young nurse who sat up all night with him two months before he died said he was very pleasant. Just a sick old man in pain who couldn't sleep. He gladly signed a couple of baseballs for her. Was he a difficult patient at times? I expect so. So are a lot of sick people.

Stump describes a falling out with Ted Williams over a petty disagreement after which they never spoke again. Williams said Stump was "full of it". He and Cobb remained friends to the end.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth Wayne Stallings on January 24, 2013
Format: Paperback
In 2010, William R. Cobb (no relation to the player Ty Cobb), conducted objective research for an article published in the American Baseball Research periodical. This article was shocking because it contained forensic evidence that Al Stump engaged in outrageous and deliberate fraud in writing lies to put profit ahead of integrity. Stump was hired by Ty Cobb to be his ghostwriter for Cobb's auto-biography. This is a common practice where a professional writer takes down the oral history of a person and then types the manuscript and proofs it for punctuation, accuracy, and readability. Stump performed this role by spending several months with Cobb just prior to his death. This auto-biography essentially explored Cobb's philosophy of baseball and how it should be played.

However, Stump almost immediately revealed a sinister intention. Stump prepared another manuscript, hidden from Cobb, in which he supposedly documented a series of outrageous stories Stump attributed to Ty Cobb. The two most notorious of these assertions is that Ty Cobb's mother did not shoot her husband and Cobb's father by accident, but that rather he was shot by her adulterous lover who used a shotgun to deliberately murder Ty Cobb's father.

The second notorious story told by Stump was that Cobb murdered a would-be mugger with his bare hands, beating him and leaving him for dead.

These two stories were revealed as completely fabricated by William Cobb's research. First, the period court records, coroner's report, and police record show that Ty Cobb's father was killed by a pistol, not a shotgun. Despite this truth, Al Stump actually sold a memorabilia collector a shotgun which Stump claimed was the shotgun used to kill Cobb's father! Stump had to know this was a lie.
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61 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Mark bennett on February 28, 2011
Format: Paperback
However well written this book is, its author has been totally disgraced and can no longer be considered any sort of trustworthy source for anything to do with Ty Cobb. Al Stump has been revealed in a variety of sources to have been a forger of memorabilia and documents related to Ty Cobb. In The National Pastime, the official publication of the Society for American Baseball Research, his reputation was completely destroyed in 2010.

He forged a Cobb diary that ended up being displayed prominently at the hall of fame until the FBI proved it was a fake in 2009. He even sold a shotgun he claimed was the gun that killed Cobbs father. The eventual problem being that Cobb's father wasn't killed by a shotgun.

We are left in a situation now where its difficult to know where to begin reconstructing who Ty Cobb was. The author of this book has so clouded the perception of who he was, that getting back to anything like the truth is going to be enormously difficult. But the first step toward the truth is banishing everything written by this person from being taken seriously.
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Hal Jordan VINE VOICE on August 6, 2010
Format: Paperback
Unfortunately, some bad news has come out on Al Stump. He seems to have stolen memorabilia from Cobb and forged quite a few Cobb documents. These activities, at the very least, call into question the accuracy of this biography. For details on Stump, check out Rob Neyer's SweetSpot blog entry (Friday Filberts) for August 6, 2010 posted to the site of the world-wide leader in sports. [I don't think I'm allowed to name the site or post a link.] Or do a search on William R. Cobb and The Georgia Peach and you can find the relevant article.
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