Reisler: A beating in the stands, followed by one on the field

From SABR member Jim Reisler at on April 28, 2012:

Ty Cobb ruled the baseball world in the era before Babe Ruth. Fiery, profane and bearing a long list of grudges, Cobb often dominated games while turning almost everyone else into an adversary. He baited pitchers, argued with umpires and slid into bases with sharpened spikes; on and off the field, he was involved in numerous, often violent, incidents. Even his teammates disliked him.

In May 1912, during Cobb’s first visit of the season to New York’s Hilltop Park with the Detroit Tigers, he incited one of baseball’s most notorious and bizarre episodes. He was suspended and reinstated, his teammates went on the sport’s first strike, and a team of sandlotters and amateurs headed by a seminary student became a part of baseball lore. Cobb blamed everyone but himself — mainly the fans and the American League president, Ban Johnson.

Cobb and the Tigers arrived in New York in a sour mood, with a 10-13 record and ready to beat on the lowly Highlanders (who were renamed the Yankees the next year). Detroit won two of the first three games, with Cobb, the center fielder, going 5 for 12 despite a steady razzing from fans. As soon as Cobb hit the field for the series finale May 15, he became a target, especially for one vocal male spectator sitting close to the Tigers’ dugout on the third-base side.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: May 1, 2012. Last Updated: May 1, 2012.