CHARLIE GEHRINGER: Cobb was a hateful guy. I think he wanted it that way; felt it made him a better player. I never heard him say anything good about anybody. He died a pretty bitter man. I think he had so many regrets it made him pretty miserable. Nobody liked him as a manager. He was such a great player himself, he figured that if he told you something, there was no reason why you couldn't do it as well as he did. But a lot of guys don't have that ability. He couldn't understand that.
Cobb was jealous of everybody and a strict disciplinarian. He had very few friends. All players shrunk away from him, especially the pitchers. Golly, he wore a path from center field to the pitcher's mound. When he'd relieve a pitcher, he'd just grab that ball away from him.
But he was super for the first couple years I was up. Golly, he was like a father to me. He took care of me, coached me, rode with me on the train and all that. He even made me use his own bat, which was kind of a thin little thing. I said, "Gee, I'd like a little more batting space," but I didn't dare use another one. He would've shipped me to Siberia. Then all of a sudden he got upset with me about something. To this day I don't know what it was. He would hardly speak to me. He wouldn't even tell me what signs I was going to get from the coaches. Weird. But he kept playing me, so it didn't really matter whether he talked to me or not.
The only thing I can think of that might have ticked him off is a game we played coming north from spring training. Nobody cared too much, really. It was hot and we were tired of exhibition games by that time. All of us stood out on the field and more or less didn't holler or cheer it up. Cobb yelled, "C'mon, let's have a little life out there! "
When I came back to the bench he yelled again: "C'mon, get some life out there!" I said, "I'm making as much noise as anyone else." Of course, none of us were making much. So maybe that set him off. He was a hard fellow to figure, to say the least.
I played parts of three seasons with Cobb as manager. Cobb played a few games and did fairly well. He'd have been all right if they'd had the designated hitter back then, because at that time Cobb couldn't field or run. It was pretty hard to use him in a crucial spot. He was still intimidating, though. I remember in the fall, when the rosters got bigger and rookies came into town, Cobb would sit on the bench with a file, sharpening his spikes. In the old days, you had to go through our dugout to get to the visitors' dugout. All these kids would get the message. Their eyes would bulge out a little. Of course, at that time Cobb was over the hill and he didn't play much. But he'd still cut you to pieces if you got in his way, and they all realized that.
Yeah, he had a super career. He made a lot of money. I guess he got to know some people here who gave him some good tips. I remember when I first came along as a kid, making four thousand dollars a year, and he was telling me to buy General Motors and Coca-Cola stock. Which was good advice. But you had to live, too, besides buying stock.
From Cobb Would Have Caught It by Richard Bak.
Copyright © 1991 by Wayne State University Press. Reprinted with permission.