No Chip Off the Old Block

He was never a baseball player, although his name was Tyrus Raymond Cobb, Jr. He loved the sport of baseball, but he never played it on a professional level or even in high school. He loved other sports, especially tennis and hunting. His was one of the most famous families in Georgia history, though he never reveled in their fame. He would talk to others about his famous father. However, he had his own successful, but all too short career. He was a healer, and he took pride in doing his job and doing it well.

Tyrus Raymond Cobb, Jr. was born on January 30, 1910 in the home of his maternal grandfather, Roswell Lombard. Lombard, a well-known Augusta, Georgia businessman, lived on Dean’s Bridge Road, which later became known as U.S. Highway No. 1, just this side of Augusta. Ty Cobb, Sr. married Charlie Lombard on August 8, 1908. Ty, their second child was a bid red-headed baby, tipping the scales at nine pounds. Newspaper writers knew that he was going to be a great baseball player, just like his daddy.

The elder Cobb had made it to the pinnacle of the American League in 1909. He was the second of only fourteen players in major league history to win the Triple Crown, leading the American League in batting average, home runs (9), and runs batted in. Cobb also led the league in runs, hits, on-base average, slugging average, and stolen bases. The 1909 season, just before Ty’s birth, was one of the greatest seasons a major league ball player ever had. Cobb nearly won the Triple Crown three years in a row, leading the league in two of three categories. Cobb, considered one of the best and meanest players (his own teammates disliked his tactics) who ever lived, remains at the top of the all-time statistical leaders. Cobb is first in runs scored, and lifetime batting average with a .366 average. He got on base 43.3 % of the time. He was second in triples and hits, although he batted nearly three thousand less times than the leader, Pete Rose. He is fourth in games played, doubles, total bases, and at bats. Cobb stands fifth in runs batted in. In an era when stolen bases were not the norm, Ty Cobb still remains fourth on the all time list. Cobb, known as the "Georgia Peach," led the American League in batting average 12 out 13 seasons. Famous people came to visit Cobb, including President William Howard Taft soon before the younger Ty’s birth.

Ty Cobb, Sr.

The Cobbs moved into a two story home at 2425 William Street in the well-to-do Summerville section of Augusta, just a short distance from the current location of Augusta State University. Ty’s childhood was not like that of a typical Augusta boy. Visitors to the Cobb home included such legendary Americans as Knute Rockne, Bobby Jones, John Phillip Sousa, Robert Woodruff, and baseball commissioner, Kennesaw "Mountain" Landis. The sounds of classical music filled his home, while a wide variety of pets and animals were kept outside in the back yard. Although the elder Ty’s feats on the baseball diamond provided the Cobb family with all of the amenities of life, their family life was not so amenable. Ty Cobb’s legendary ball field temper came with him when he came home during the off season.

Ty Cobb Sr. (center) takes a portrait with his five children, (left to right) Herschel, Jimmy, Shirley, Beverly and Ty Jr. Ty Jr. spent years as a doctor in Dublin, Ga., before being diagnosed with brain cancer. He died living with his mother and sister in California. @ Augusta Chronicle, Don Rhodes, author of Safe At Home, a biography of Ty Cobb.

Ty, Jr. attended Richmond Academy in Augusta, where he was a two-sport star. Ty chose football and tennis, not even trying out for the baseball team. He knew that he could never match his father’s feats as a baseball player. Ty Jr., the antithesis of his father, was considered shy and took a lot of jealous ribbing from his fellow students. Ty loved to play tennis, then considered a game of the erudite. He played in the South Atlantic Tennis Tournament against Bill Tilden, the greatest tennis player of his day. Tilden, the first American to win at Wimbledon, became Ty’s personal tennis coach.

Ty attended Princeton University for a time before failing too many courses. He continued to play tennis after transferring to Yale University, where he was captain of the team. Ty returned nearer to home to study medicine at the Medical College of Charleston. He did his intern work at the University of Georgia Medical School in his hometown, without the financial aid of his father. While on a fishing trip in Florida, he met his wife, Mary Frances Dunn, whom he married on June 13, 1942. Ty returned to Augusta to his practice, before moving to Dublin several years later. The Cobbs had three children, Ty, III, Charlie, and Peggy. In 1945, Dr. and Mrs. Cobb bought the Hardeman Blackshear home at 1108 Stonewall Street, where the senior Cobb reportedly visited him on at least one occasion.

Dr. Cobb played very little organized baseball. He did love baseball. "He was my doctor, my favorite doctor," Wash Larsen recalled. "I still remember going into his office in the Thompson hospital on Rowe Street. It was a thrill just to go in and listening to his stories about baseball, and he had some good ones," Larsen said. Larsen and his friends practiced baseball on the ball field at the old fairgrounds at the corner of Telfair and Troup Streets. "Nearly every day, Dr. Cobb would pull up to the ballfield in his sports car. He would get out and ask if he could play ball with us. We said sure, of course, Dr. Cobb," Larsen said. After all, he was Ty Cobb, not the ball player, but as close as the young boys would ever get to him. "He hit all of our baseballs over the fence into the kudzu-lined ravine across the road and then left," Larsen fondly remembered. Larsen and his friends went to the kudzu patch and found every ball they could, hoping that Dr. Cobb would come back the next day and hit them over the fence again, which he did. Dr. Cobb was one of the better golfers in Dublin. He loved hunting. One day he was out on the Oconee River hunting for game birds. When he hit his first wild goose, he found a band on the bird's leg. Cobb stated, "I nearly fell out of the boat." The bird came from a wildlife refuge and the home of his friend, the famous Jack Miner. The Ontario refuge, where Cobb had visited many times as a child and an adult, was home to thousands of birds under the protection of the Canadian government.

As a doctor, Ty Cobb became one of Dublin’s finest and most respected physicians. Cobb joined Doctors A.T. Coleman and Fred Coleman and the American Legion in calling for the construction of a county hospital in Dublin. Early in 1952, Dr. Cobb was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He underwent an operation and lived for a time with his sister Shirley Beckworth in New York. The family kept him in New York, knowing that the hot Dublin summers wouldn’t be good for him. Although he looked healthy, the cancer was destroying his brain. In a poignant meeting, Ty, Sr. offered to give Ty, Jr. a bird dog. Ty had enough memory left to realize that his father had never given him anything.

Tyrus Raymond Cobb, Jr. died on September 9, 1952. He was entombed in the family mausoleum in Palo Alto, California. His father died in 1961 and his mother in 1975. She was entombed by her sons, while Ty, Sr. chose to be laid to rest in his hometown of Royston. Dr. Cobb’s fellow Dublin Rotary Club members started a memorial scholarship fund in his memory dedicated to providing scholarships to medical students. Dr. Cobb’s son, Charlie probably summed up the essence of his father when he said, " I don’t care what time he came in from treating his patients or delivering babies – sometimes two or three in the morning – my father always would come into our bedrooms and give us a kiss. I probably remember that more about him than anything else."


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