Fake News Made Baseball Icon Ty Cobb a Dirt Bag — But He Wasn't

Ty Cobb, baseball's first superstar, is remembered for being the worst racist and dirtiest player ever to take the field. But was he? A new PragerU video by Cobb biographer Charles Leerhsen provides compelling evidence to the contrary:

How could a man born in Georgia in 1886 not be a racist? Well, as it turns out, Ty Cobb descended from a long line of abolitionists. His great-grandfather was a minister who preached against slavery and was run out of town for his troubles. His grandfather refused to fight in the Confederate Army because of the slavery issue. And his father, an educator, once broke up a lynch mob.

In researching Cobb's legacy, Leerhshen found that nearly every accusation against the baseball legend found its roots in the same source: Articles and books that were not fact-checked and published after Cobb's death by a bitter, opportunistic journalist named Al Stump, whom Cobb had once threatened to sue for making up stories about him.

RELATED: Calling Good People ‘Racist’ Isn’t New: The Case of Ty Cobb

"I would like to hear who has been besmirched that needs to be restored? Whose credibility has been destroyed that needs to have it restored?" Glenn asked.

Glenn challenged listeners to email patgray@glennbeck.com with the names of historical figures --- from the 20th century or before --- whose legacy has been inaccurately portrayed.

Listen to this segment from The Glenn Beck Program:

Well, the latest thing is we just found this Ty Cobb Prager U discussion about Ty Cobb not being who you think he is.

STU: Now, because I'm a big baseball fan.

PAT: Yeah, me too.

STU: We're all sports fans.

PAT: And what have you heard about Ty Cobb? Do you know about Ty Cobb at all?

GLENN: No. I just know he's a bad guy. That's all I know.

JEFFY: Right!

PAT: Bad guy. That's all anybody knows about him. Great baseball player. Racist.

STU: Racist. Dirty player.

PAT: Killed a guy. Never paid for it. Spiked people when he slid into second base as often as he could, you know, that kind of thing. Well, listen to this.

VOICE: He was Major League Baseball's first superstar. The first man ever inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame, and he still has the game's highest career batting average, 366, almost 90 years after he retired.

PAT: Wow.

GLENN: His name is Ty Cobb.

Yet, despite his historic achievements, he is often remembered for being the worst racist and the dirtiest player ever to take the field. If you know baseball, you've heard the stories. Ty Cobb would pistol whip black men he passed on the street. He once stabbed to death a black waiter in Cleveland, just because the young man was acting uppity. On the field, he was set to sharpen the spikes to cut up rival infielders. He supposedly had no friends.

In the movie, Field of Dreams, Shoeless Joe Jackson said that Cobb wasn't invited to the ghost league cornfield reunion (phonetic) because, quote, no one liked the son of a bitch.

A lifelong baseball fan, I believed these stories when I set out to write the first authoritative biography of Cobb in 20 years. I had been hearing them all my life. And like a lot of people, I took the repetition as evidence.

But to my astonishment, as I delved into the source material, newspapers, census reports, and personal letters, I couldn't find any proof that they were true.

On the contrary, Cobb's teammates on the whole seemed to respect him, defending him on the field and off. His opponents said he played the game hard, but clean. Wally Schang, a veteran catcher, was typical, he once said Cobb never cut me up. He was too pretty a slider to hurt anyone who put the ball on him right.

One famous photograph of 1912 shows Cobb flying foot first into the crotch of St. Louis Brown's catcher Paul Krichell. It looks bad. But pictures can be deceiving. In reality, Cobb is kicking the ball out of Krichell's glove. He didn't spike the catcher. Krichell later said, in a way, it was really my fault. I was standing in front of the plate, instead of on the side where I could tag tie as he slid in.

Indeed, in 1910, Cobb actually asked the League to require that players dulled their spikes.

And what about the bigotry? How could a man born in Georgia in 1886 not be a racist? Well, as it turns out, Ty Cobb descended from a long line of abolitionists. His great-grandfather was a minister who preached against slavery and was run out of town for his troubles. His grandfather refused to fight in the Confederate Army because of the slavery issue. And his father, an educator, once broke up a lynch mob.

On the subjects of blacks playing with whites, Cobb said, "The Negro should be accepted whole-heartedly and not grudgingly. The Negro has the right to play professional baseball. And who is to say he has not?"

PAT: It doesn't sound like a racist.

VOICE: Cobb attended many Negro League games, sometimes throwing out the first pitch. And sitting in the dugout with the players, he said Willie Mayes was the only modern day player he'd pay to see.

As for that black waiter he supposedly killed, well, in reality, he was a hotel night watchman. And Cobb didn't kill him. He just scuffled with him. And, oh, yeah, the guy was white.

Now, Ty Cobb was like the rest of us. A highly imperfect being. Too quick to take offense. Too intolerant of those who did not strive for excellence with the same almost crazy zeal that he did.

But a racist? A dirty player? Not true.

What is true is that almost every accusation against Ty Cobb's character finds its roots in the same source, un-fact-checked articles and books published after his death by a bitter opportunistic journalist named Al Stump, whom Cobb had once threatened to sue for making up stories about him.

It didn't matter that Stump had spent little time with Cobb or that all of Stump's sources were anonymous. That sportswriters who knew Cobb rushed to his defense. Or that Stump himself had been banned from publications for writing lies. The scandal was titillating. And it stuck. When the legend beats the facts, print the legend.

Meanwhile, a good man's reputation lies in ruins. There are lessons to be learned here. First, it's all too easy to believe lies about people, especially successful ones. Lies take achievers down a few notches. And we like to hear that. And second, if a lie is repeated often enough, it becomes accepted as fact.

This has consequences because lies are the source of much of the world's evil, like the evil of destroying a man's legacy. In this case, a legacy that should be celebrated.

Ty Cobb was the most exciting baseball player of all time. He once stole second, third, and home on three consecutive pitches. He once had a (inaudible) to the pitcher, to an inside-the-park home run. He's not a racist or a cheat. It's time to tell the truth about Ty Cobb.

PAT: That's crazy. Yeah.

GLENN: Jeez.

VOICE: I'm Charles Leerhsen, author of Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty.

PAT: I mean, that's everything --

STU: Yeah.

PAT: -- everything you didn't believe about Ty Cobb in five minutes.

JEFFY: Nothing is sacred anymore.

PAT: That's amazing.

STU: It's incredible too. And you think about it in today's context with fake news -- first of all, fake news been going on for a long time apparently.

GLENN: Fake news -- if anybody doesn't think the king wasn't paying the town cryers to go out and cry out with fake news, you're crazy.

PAT: Oh, please.

GLENN: Of course, they were.

STU: It's been going on forever. And this is one, even as a person who has spent way too many hours focusing on sports -- we're all huge sports fans with, of course, the exception of Glenn who doesn't know the difference between baseball and football.

GLENN: I do. Yes, the ball size.

STU: Yes, right. That's it. That's the only difference.

PAT: Very good.

STU: But we spend a lot of time talking about baseball and --

GLENN: And the color. One is brown. One is white.

STU: There you go. Very good.

PAT: You could go with the shade. A little bit different.

JEFFY: Don't give him the answers.

GLENN: Okay. The shape. I said one is smaller. One is bigger.

STU: The point is, I even believed it. Right? I totally thought that was true. Great player, dirtbag. That was my whole -- you just believed that about Ty Cobb.

PAT: Yeah. Well, that's always the name that comes up when you're talking about Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame. You're telling me Ty Cobb is in the Hall of Fame, but not Pete Rose? I mean, look what he did compared to Pete Rose. I've heard that 100 times. One hundred times.

STU: Yeah. And look at, like, we all recognize this is true in the area, for example, for politics. FDR ended the Great Depression. Like, all these things that we know -- over time, you look at, and you're like, wait a minute. That's not right. This isn't right.

But when we get to -- there's a certain level of interest. Like if you hit -- like with sports, I'm interested in Ty Cobb because I think it's -- you know, I like sports. I haven't dedicated my life to looking at Ty Cobb like this author has. And it's like, when you actually look at these things, so many times, they're the opposite.

PAT: Tokyo Rose.

STU: Yeah, Tokyo Rose. You've done with Tokyo Rose.

GLENN: Woodrow Wilson. Woodrow Wilson.

STU: Woodrow Wilson.

It struck me -- it hit me initially because it was a sports reference. We had John Ziegler in here a couple weeks ago talking about the Penn State thing. And Joe Paterno being the main part of that. Of like, here's a guy who was fired, his reputation ruined, and really, in retrospect, it's pretty hard to make the case that Paterno in particular -- I mean, Ziegler goes even further than this. But Paterno in particular, it's hard to make the case that this guy had lengthy knowledge of these things and did something horrific because he wanted to endanger children. You know, it's -- it's really -- it's bizarre when you stop and you can get past the sort of craziness of the moment and really examine these things, how your opinion changes.

GLENN: I would love to hear -- in fact, no, I guess -- send it to PatGray@GlennBeck.com. I would like to hear who has been besmirched who needs to be restored?

PAT: That would be really interesting.

STU: Yeah, yeah.

GLENN: Whose credibility has been destroyed that needs to have it restored? And let's take it out of the last 20 years.

STU: Yeah.

GLENN: You know, because you can't --

STU: It's hard.

GLENN: It's too controversial the last 20 years.

PAT: Because you know it doesn't end at Ty Cobb and Tokyo Rose. There's got to be hundred of people --

GLENN: Of course not. That Tokyo Rose thing below blew me away. Blew me away.

PAT: Yeah. We had no idea. None.

GLENN: Yeah. You know, another thing I thought of is we should start -- because when Tokyo Rose -- she died in 2006. She died in 2006.

PAT: She was alive for a long time.

GLENN: Yeah, most of my life she was alive. Why didn't I ever talk to Tokyo Rose? Why didn't I ever reach out to Tokyo Rose?

PAT: We didn't know the story then.

GLENN: Right. But even not knowing the story, what happened? Why wouldn't we do that?

PAT: Uh-huh.

GLENN: Who was it, somebody that just died -- and then today I saw the picture, the guy who -- you remember that really famous firefighter in the Oklahoma City bombing that was carrying the baby?

STU: Oh, yeah.

GLENN: The little girl. Remember that? He's just retired.

PAT: Oh, wow.

GLENN: It's hard to believe because he was young in that -- he's just retired from the fire department.

PAT: Jeez.

GLENN: We should find people from history -- the Tokyo Rose size, that are here, available, and just nobody is talking to, before they die.

PAT: Yeah, we should.

GLENN: I'd love to talk to some of those people.

PAT: That would be great. By the way, did you know that Ty Cobb hit over 300 three separate years?

STU: See, this is --

GLENN: This is going to happen now for three weeks.

PAT: Easily.

STU: We will be in the middle of a conversation about something totally different. And like, did you know he hit 420 one year? 420. 420.

PAT: The highest batting averages of all the time.

GLENN: And that's all he'll say. That's all he'll say. And we'll all go, huh. And then right back into the conversation.

Glenn Beck: Why MLK's pledge of NONVIOLENCE is the key to saving America

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Listen to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s pledge of nonviolence and really let it sink in: "Remember always that the nonviolent movement seeks justice and reconciliation — not victory."

On the radio program, Glenn Beck shared King's "ten commandments" of nonviolence and the meaning behind the powerful words you may never have noticed before.

"People will say nonviolent resistance is a method of cowards. It is not. It takes more courage to stand there when people are threatening you," Glenn said. "You're not necessarily the one who is going to win. You may lose. But you are standing up with courage for the ideas that you espouse. And the minute you engage in the kind of activity that the other side is engaging in, you discredit the movement. You discredit everything we believe in."

Take MLK's words to heart, America. We must stand with courage, nonviolently, with love for all, and strive for peace and rule of law, not "winning."

Watch the video below for more:

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Conservatives are between a rock and a hard place with Section 230 and Big Tech censorship. We don't want more government regulation, but have we moved beyond the ability of Section 230 reforms to rein in Big Tech's rising power?

Rachel Bovard, Conservative Partnership Institute's senior director of policy, joined the Glenn Beck radio program to give her thoughts and propose a possibly bipartisan alternative: enforcing our existing antitrust laws.

Watch the video below:

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Dan Bongino, host of The Dan Bongino Show, is an investor in Parler — the social media platform that actually believes in free speech. Parler was attacked by Big Tech — namely Amazon, Apple, and Google — earlier this week, but Bongino says the company isn't giving up without a fight. In fact, he says, he's willing to go bankrupt over this one.

Dan joined Glenn Beck on the radio program to detail what he calls a "smear" campaign behind the scenes, and how he believes we can move forward from Big Tech's control.

"You have no idea how bad this was behind the scenes," Dan told Glenn. "I know you're probably thinking ... well, how much worse can the attack on Parler have gotten than three trillion-dollar companies — Amazon, Apple, and Google — all seemingly coordinated to remove your business from the face of the Earth? Well, behind the scenes, it's even worse. I mean, there are smear campaigns, pressure campaigns ... lawyers, bankers, everyone, to get this company ... wiped from the face of the earth. It's incredible."

Dan emphasized that he would not give up without a fight, because what's he's really fighting for is the right to free speech for all Americans, regardless of their political opinions, without fear of being banned, blacklisted, or losing jobs and businesses.

"I will go bankrupt. I will go absolutely destitute before I let this go," he said. "I have had some very scary moments in my life and they put horse blinders on me. I know what matters now. It's not money. It's not houses. It's none of that crap. It's this: the ability to exist in a free country, where you can express your ideas freely."

Watch the video below to hear more from Dan:

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Joe Biden's administration is getting ready for something historic, but we're all being distracted. And now that Biden has hired at least 14 former or current executives from Big Tech — experts at colluding to censor unflattering news about Biden — Americans must be laser-focused on what's coming.

On January 20, the most corrupt president in American history will be inaugurated, and it looks like some of his cabinet choices were picked specifically so everything just – poof – goes away. The administration nominees appear to be all about preserving corruption, crony capitalism, and executing a Great Reset. Those same people also have one more thing in common: Ukraine.

On his Wednesday night special this week, Glenn exposes their radical agenda in their own words and gives U.S. senators the questions they must ask before confirming corrupt nominees to some of the highest offices in the country.


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