Thursday, May 5, 2016

As the old saying goes...

... the problem ain't so much what we don't know, it's what we know that ain't so.

For decades, the reputation of the greatest Tiger of them all, Ty Cobb, has been tarnished with allegations of racism off the field and bloody-minded tactics on it (e.g., sharpening the spikes on his shoes in order to intimidate basemen with his slides). Paul Beston, at City Journal, reviews a recent biography of Cobb by Charles Leerhsen and discovers that, while Cobb did, indeed, have issues with his temper, many of the charges against him stem from the largely made-up scribblings of a hack sportswriter named Al Stump. A sample:
Time and again, what Leerhsen discovered through exhaustive research undermined the Cobb created by Stump, who didn’t source his work (“because he produced fiction,” as a contemporary said). Leerhsen could find no tangible evidence that Cobb hated blacks. On the contrary, he spoke in support of baseball’s integration when asked—and he wasn’t asked, as best Leerhsen can tell, until 1952. “The Negro should be accepted and not grudgingly but wholeheartedly,” Cobb said then. “The Negro has the right to compete in sports and who’s to say they have not?”

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