Touring the Bases With Norm Coleman

From Jack Perconte at on September 21, 2011, with SABR member Norm Coleman:

Perconte: Tell us about your one-man play about Ty Cobb?

Coleman:  The ninety-minute play has Cobb talking to a sports reporter from an Atlanta, Georgia newspaper on the evening he would die, July 17, 1961. They are in a hotel suite and Cobb reminisces about his life. Growing up in Georgia, playing baseball as a kid, his brief minor league career and his playing days with the Detroit Tigers (1905-1926) ending with the Philadelphia Athletics (1927-28) And his post baseball life. Managing the Tigers (1921-26) and his biggest disappointment, never winning a World Series.

He talks about various players he knew, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and Lefty O’Doul. He talks about his friendships with the many presidents he knew, how he became a multi-millionaire, the Educational Foundation he established, the Cobb Memorial Hospital he funded in Royston, Georgia. He also discusses his racism, denies he was a bigot and discusses his over the top aggressive play he was known for and hated for.  He talks about his approach to baseball as a science and how he drove himself to become the very best player of his time, and of all-time.  He discusses the event that changed his life, the accidental shooting of his beloved father by his mother.  The show has twenty-two pieces of music between scenes.

Perconte: How and why did you pick Ty as a subject?

Coleman: As a baseball fan, I was aware of Cobb as one of the great players. He held over 90 records for many years. I knew his lifetime batting average of 367 was and is the best and I knew he was the first player elected into the Hall of Fame.  I knew nothing about the man. The first book I read about him intrigued me and as I was just starting my acting career in local community theater, I realized this could make a successful one-man show.  I saw him as a man politically and socially incorrect for our day yet a great sports icon who truly helped create our national pastime.  Fans either loved or hated him,

Players, even many on his own team hated him yet he used all that negative energy to drive himself to become the best.  I was impressed how he overcame the death of his beloved father to push himself to be the best, yet it destroyed him for as he said, “the rest of my life.”

Read the full article here:

Learn more about Coleman’s one-man play with Ty Cobb here:

Originally published: September 22, 2011. Last Updated: September 22, 2011.