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My Life in Baseball: The True Record Paperback – January 1, 1993

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

One of sports literature's great whitewashes and cover-ups, Ty Cobb's autobiography is anything but the "true record" of its titular claim. Cobb was as haunted and complex a man as has ever sharpened a pair of spikes, and, in his 70s, when he sat down to tell his story, he simply didn't want the whole of his truth revealed; he preferred to perpetuate his legend. What results, then, is a flawed fairy tale filled with colorful anecdotes and reminiscences that duck the demons that fueled Cobb's inspired play like a pitcher trying to hide from a line drive smashed in the direction of his eyeballs.

Interestingly, the story behind the book is far more raucous and compelling than the book itself. Cobb, as violent and demanding at the end of his life as he was in his playing heyday, virtually kidnapped Stump (one of the most honored sports writers of the late '50s and early '60s), subjecting almost every word and observation to Cobb's approval. Stump finally exacted his literary pound of flesh years later when he slid spikes high into Cobb's ghost with the publication of his marvelously rich--and real--accounting of Cobb's life in Cobb: A Biography. Stump not only nicked the fuzz off the Georgia Peach in that second effort, he recounted the harrowing circumstances behind the first. Together, the two books provide a fascinating prism into a man's life and legacy, the first volume bending the light to diffuse the truth, the second straightening it out to preserve it. --Jeff Silverman

Review

"Highly successful in knitting together this story of the life of a most remarkable and dedicated player—perhaps the most spirited baseball player ever to have graced the diamond."—Library Journal
(Library Journal)

"Frank, bitter, trend-setting autobiography."—USA Today Baseball Weekly
(USA Today Baseball Weekly)

"One of the most remarkable sports books ever written."—Los Angeles Daily News
(Los Angeles Daily News)

"The old Tiger still spits and snarls off the pages."—Cooperstown Review
(Cooperstown Review)

"Of Ty Cobb let it be said simply that he was the world's greatest ballplayer."—New York Herald Tribune (1961 editorial on Cobb's death)
(New York Herald Tribune)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 315 pages
  • Publisher: Bison Books; Reprint edition (January 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803263597
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803263598
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #587,902 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Tim R. Niles on March 31, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book through the Sport (Magazine) Book Club inabout 1962 when I was twelve and learned more about how to playbasball from it than from any other source.
You don't have to be a driven old man with a lot of ugly qualities to recognize this book for what it is: magnificent lessons in the art and science of baseball.
Ty Cobb succeeded at baseball, he succeeded at making money, and he may have been a failure in many ways as a human being, BUT this book is a fitting remembrance of his approach to baseball.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 23, 1998
Format: Paperback
"For those who preferred to remember Cobb's good qualities and let his faults be buried with his physical remains, Stump's article was at best an exercise in poor taste, and at worst a severe injustice to a man who had done much for his hometown and substantial good otherwise. (Stump mislead readers in implying that he had been Cobb's companion nearly all the time, when in fact he had seen him only a few times during that "wild" ten-month period.")...Stump...made no efforts to check facts. Thus the book included a number of mistaken dates, places, people, and situations...Unable to do much sustained work with Cobb, Stump relied considerably on a seven-part biographical sketch published in 1950 in the Sporting News by H.G. Salsinger, longtime Detroit Baseball writer and one of Cobb's few real freinds, as well as Cobb's 1952 Life articles and a book put together three years later by Cobb and John D. McCallum, combining reminiscences with tips on how to play the game."
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Michael J Woznicki HALL OF FAME on January 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
When you think of hard nose, intense play to win ball players, the first name that comes to mind is Ty Cobb. This book, which is one of the best books about Cobb, shows the side of the man who was most hated in the game he excelled at, baseball.
The story of Tyrus Raymond Cobb is one that will forever be both myth and fact blended together. What this book does is gives the reader a greater understanding and appreciation of a man who ruled baseball for more than 20 years.
You look into the history of more than baseball; you'll see the life outside of baseball, and the life most people never knew. Walk through the past and relive the glory of the game with the greatest hitter of all time. What this book reveals is more than sports history, it's far more.
Ty Cobb is baseball and Ty Cobb the man is more than the legend. The book is must have for those that love baseball. You'll find yourself captured from page one. A real hall of fame book about a real hall of fame player.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Deanna Rubin on August 19, 2003
Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed reading this book. It was the first book about Cobb that I had ever read; before that, he was just a name and statistics to me.
The overarcing story of this book is Ty Cobb's career in baseball, with a little bit about his life before and a few flashes into his life after. Now, it would be easy to sum up a career in baseball with several numbers, a few game highlights, etc. But that is not what you'll find in this book. What you'll find is a ton of short, 5-10 paragraph interludes about almost every big name in baseball from the 1905-1928 period... and even big names elsewhere. Ty Cobb was fortunate enough to have interacted with everyone from actors to presidents to business executives, and he has humorous angles on each of them. I actually laughed out loud several times while reading this book at the way he portrayed various people.
In a lot of ways, reading this book is almost like listening to your grandfather tell stories of his adventures and his friends in his youth. Except it's not your grandfather, it's Ty Cobb, telling stories of the Golden Age of Baseball, and his friends were legends like Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Connie Mack, Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance, Nap Lajoie, and others who may also simply be names in the Hall of Fame to you. Cobb's stories bring life to long-dead names, color to old black-and-white photos. Most of us have only heard legends of those early parks, players, pennants, pitches, pundits. Cobb was there. And through reading his story, it almost feels like you were there, too.
While I've read other reviews that say this book hides the Dark Side of Ty Cobb, I don't think that is entirely true. He definitely talks about some ways he treated people, such as Shoeless Joe Jackson, that makes you realize that at his core he was a man who would stop at nothing to win.
It doesn't matter if you like Ty Cobb or hate Ty Cobb. If you want to hear some great baseball stories, read this book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mark bennett on March 2, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book had been called "one of sports literature's great whitewashes and cover-ups" but that characterization has to re-evaluated in what we now know about the co-author: Al Stump. In 2010, Al Stump was shown to have been a forger and an author of false documents concerning Ty Cobb. A alleged Cobb diary presented to the baseball hall of fame was proved in 2009 to have been a forgery. He had even sold a shotgun to a collector which he alleged was the gun which killed Cobb's father. (Cobb's father was not killed by a shotgun). Stump's reputation is now effectively destroyed and nothing he said has much remaining credibility. That calls for a re-evaluation of this book and the stories around it.

Al Stump later claimed that this book, written with Cobb and approved by Cobb, was not the truth. Stump claimed to have been kidnapped by Cobb and forced to write the book a particular way. Stump also traded after the book was written in variety of lured stories: (i.e. the killing of Cobbs father, Cobb killing people during his career, Cobb fixing games, Cobb firing guns in hospital rooms and so on).

For many years, this book has been dismissed as untrue or manipulative due to Cobb's influence. But in light of what we know of Al Stump now, everything written in the last 20 years about Cobb needs to be re-evaluated. This book still has two flaws: (1) It was written by Stump and (2) Its an autobiography and as such will reflect the point of view of the subject. But with a degree of caution, it can probably be used as a source for Cobbs view of himself and events in his life.

In light of what we know now, Stump's later "Cobb: A Biography" needs to be dismissed as this book was once dismissed. This book has been rehabilitated. Though Stump's hand in it will always raise some questions.
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