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War on the Basepaths: The Definitive Biography of Ty Cobb

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During his twenty-four-year career, Ty Cobb was an MVP, Triple Crown-winner, twelve-time batting champion, and was elected in the inaugural ballot for the National Baseball Hall of Fame (along with Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth, Christy Mathewson, and Walter Johnson). As someone who retired from the game over eighty-five years ago, he is still the leader for career batting avera During his twenty-four-year career, Ty Cobb was an MVP, Triple Crown-winner, twelve-time batting champion, and was elected in the inaugural ballot for the National Baseball Hall of Fame (along with Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth, Christy Mathewson, and Walter Johnson). As someone who retired from the game over eighty-five years ago, he is still the leader for career batting average, second in runs, hits, and triples, and a mainstay in dozens of other categories. However, when most people think of “The Georgia Peach,” they’re reminded of his reputation as a “dirty” player. It was said that got so many of his steals because he would sharpen his metal cleats and “spike” the second basemen if they would try to tag him out. It’s also said that he was rude, nasty, a racist, and hated by peers and the press alike. As author Tim Hornbaker did for Charles Comiskey in Turning the Black Sox White, War on the Basepaths is an unbiased biography of one of the greatest players to ever grace a baseball diamond. Based on detailed research and analysis, Tim Hornbaker offers the full story of Cobb’s life and career; some of which has been altered for almost a century. While he retired in 1928 and passed away in 1961, War on the Basepaths will show how Ty Cobb really was and place readers in the box seats of his incredible life. Skyhorse Publishing, as well as our Sports Publishing imprint, are proud to publish a broad range of books for readers interested in sports—books about baseball, pro football, college football, pro and college basketball, hockey, or soccer, we have a book about your sport or your team. Whether you are a New York Yankees fan or hail from Red Sox nation; whether you are a die-hard Green Bay Packers or Dallas Cowboys fan; whether you root for the Kentucky Wildcats, Louisville Cardinals, UCLA Bruins, or Kansas Jayhawks; whether you route for the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, or Los Angeles Kings; we have a book for you. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are committed to publishing books on subjects that are sometimes overlooked by other publishers and to authors whose work might not otherwise find a home.


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During his twenty-four-year career, Ty Cobb was an MVP, Triple Crown-winner, twelve-time batting champion, and was elected in the inaugural ballot for the National Baseball Hall of Fame (along with Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth, Christy Mathewson, and Walter Johnson). As someone who retired from the game over eighty-five years ago, he is still the leader for career batting avera During his twenty-four-year career, Ty Cobb was an MVP, Triple Crown-winner, twelve-time batting champion, and was elected in the inaugural ballot for the National Baseball Hall of Fame (along with Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth, Christy Mathewson, and Walter Johnson). As someone who retired from the game over eighty-five years ago, he is still the leader for career batting average, second in runs, hits, and triples, and a mainstay in dozens of other categories. However, when most people think of “The Georgia Peach,” they’re reminded of his reputation as a “dirty” player. It was said that got so many of his steals because he would sharpen his metal cleats and “spike” the second basemen if they would try to tag him out. It’s also said that he was rude, nasty, a racist, and hated by peers and the press alike. As author Tim Hornbaker did for Charles Comiskey in Turning the Black Sox White, War on the Basepaths is an unbiased biography of one of the greatest players to ever grace a baseball diamond. Based on detailed research and analysis, Tim Hornbaker offers the full story of Cobb’s life and career; some of which has been altered for almost a century. While he retired in 1928 and passed away in 1961, War on the Basepaths will show how Ty Cobb really was and place readers in the box seats of his incredible life. Skyhorse Publishing, as well as our Sports Publishing imprint, are proud to publish a broad range of books for readers interested in sports—books about baseball, pro football, college football, pro and college basketball, hockey, or soccer, we have a book about your sport or your team. Whether you are a New York Yankees fan or hail from Red Sox nation; whether you are a die-hard Green Bay Packers or Dallas Cowboys fan; whether you root for the Kentucky Wildcats, Louisville Cardinals, UCLA Bruins, or Kansas Jayhawks; whether you route for the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, or Los Angeles Kings; we have a book for you. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are committed to publishing books on subjects that are sometimes overlooked by other publishers and to authors whose work might not otherwise find a home.

30 review for War on the Basepaths: The Definitive Biography of Ty Cobb

  1. 5 out of 5

    Steven Peterson

    This is an outstanding biography of one of baseball's most driven players--Ty Cobb. He had demons, and these affected his play and his life. But many treatments of Cobb emphasize this element in his life and do not take a more nuanced view. This book explores his life in detail--warts and the good alike. A key part of his life was his father. He was attached to him greatly. When his father came around to accepting (and even approving) Ty's desire to play baseball, it was a key moment for him. But This is an outstanding biography of one of baseball's most driven players--Ty Cobb. He had demons, and these affected his play and his life. But many treatments of Cobb emphasize this element in his life and do not take a more nuanced view. This book explores his life in detail--warts and the good alike. A key part of his life was his father. He was attached to him greatly. When his father came around to accepting (and even approving) Ty's desire to play baseball, it was a key moment for him. But when his mother (under not completely clear circumstances) killed his father, it affected him considerably. So, too, bullying that he experienced. He developed a fire to succeed. The book provides a chronological history of his life and times. His childhood, his early years in baseball (at the outset, playing against boys older than him, and sometimes taking abuse as a result), the outset of his professional career. His minor league career soon settled into excellent play. This landed him a contract with the Detroit Tigers. His first year (only a part of a season) was not outstanding, but he showed enough to get a contract to continue. And how he continued! The story of his baseball exploits is well told. The hitting, the fielding, and the baserunning. He studied the game closely; he also used primitive psychology to advantage, trying to get under other players' skins. With baserunning, he studies pitchers and their tendencies. He would often take what seemed like crazy chances, such as stealing home, going from first to home on a single, and so on. His stolen base tally remained # 1 until many decades later. His hitting? With his left handed split grip, he bunted, sprayed the baseball around, and could hit with power for the era. Many RBIs. He won batting championship after batting championship. Hi was on pennant winning teams a hgandful of times, but could never experience being World Series champs. On the human side, the book shows the ups and downs of his relationship with other players--including his own teammates. Sometimes, a number of his teammates saw him as only pursuing personal goals (batting championships). He had feuds with other teammates--as well as players on other teams. He had a reputation in some quarters as dirty, using his spikes to hurt other players as he ran the bases. One of the positive aspects of this book is the author's analysis of such charges--suggesting that most times he was simply running rh bases hard (although there were probably some times when he went across a boundary). His relations with teammates and other playes was sometimes rocky. And yet he got on well with many players. The book describes his time as manager of Detroit--with both strengths and weaknesses outlined. It deals with his fights with fans, employees, and others. The text notes some rough encounters with African-Americans, to some extent (apparently), because of his southern views of them. Not an especially pretty picture. His relations with his family are well depicted--the ups and downs. The allegations that he and Tris Speaker were involved in betting on games. The final picture is not completely clear here. Finally, his life in retirement. Cobb was generous in many respects, with some philanthropic enterprises that were beneficial to the larger community. He did seem to mellow in retirement, although there were outbursts and his family life remained somewhat turbulent. His entrance into baseball's Hall of Fame is a part of this post-baseball life. All in all, a very nice biography of an enigmatic person.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Chris Tabar

    The last 15 years or so, coinciding with the meteoric rise in internet access and usage, have seen an explosion in books and other coverage of the early history of baseball. From Ken Burns's dynamic PBS miniseries to the incredible work from the folks at SABR, our knowledge of those long-gone days continues to grow every day. As a result, we have gotten fantastic, definitive biographies on many of baseball's greatest early stars - Walter Johnson, Babe Ruth, Christy Mathewson, Nap Lajoie and many The last 15 years or so, coinciding with the meteoric rise in internet access and usage, have seen an explosion in books and other coverage of the early history of baseball. From Ken Burns's dynamic PBS miniseries to the incredible work from the folks at SABR, our knowledge of those long-gone days continues to grow every day. As a result, we have gotten fantastic, definitive biographies on many of baseball's greatest early stars - Walter Johnson, Babe Ruth, Christy Mathewson, Nap Lajoie and many others with one major exception. Ty Cobb. Over the last 50 years, Cobb has been the subject of two biographies and his own autobiography. Unfortunately, Ty's co-author on his autobiography (Al Stump), also the author of one of the two biographies, has been proven a fraud whose writings are highly suspect at best. The other biography, by historian Charles Alexander, is now 30 years old and suffers from factual inaccuracies and a reliance on the work of Stump. Thus we are left with a dearth of credible, in-depth coverage of Cobb. Into that void has stepped Tim Hornbaker. Hornbaker first came to prominence as the author of a serious, scholarly tome on the history of pro wrestling's National Wrestling Alliance. The depth and quality of his research for that title elevated pro wrestling writing to a level rarely reached in the realm of sports non-fiction. Unfortunately, while highly detailed, "National Wrestling Alliance: The Untold Story of the Monopoly That Strangled Pro Wrestling" suffered from being over-long, out of order chronologically, and a habit of using real names in places where performance names were better suited. Thankfully, Hornbaker's newest work, "War on the Basepaths: The Definitive Biography of Ty Cobb" suffers from none of those faults. Hornbaker seeks to peel back the layers of Cobb mythology and reveal the true facts of his career and personality, a goal which he largely reaches. The Cobb of Hornbaker's telling is a nuanced, complicated man prone to wild fits of anger coupled with deep sensitivity to teasing and a difficulty in socializing at a young age. The sum is a more complete portrait of Cobb than ever seen before, one setting aside some of the fairy tales we have heard so often, while offering supporting information for other not-so-flattering stories, including seemingly dozens of fights, brawls, and near-altercations. Strong evidence is provided that Cobb was, indeed as he's been accused so many times, a racist, albeit not a hateful one a la the KKK. These revelations are balanced against tales of Cobb struggling with fitting in with his teammates who teased and hazed frequently as a young player, even sawing his bats in half. Obviously, no biography of Ty Cobb would be complete without many, many stories of Cobb's feats on the diamond and "War on the Basepaths" certainly delivers in that respect. We are regaled with stories of Cobb scoring from first on singles, stealing home, making great catches, hitting five home runs over the course of two days, and more. These stories of Cobb are set in the larger context of early 20th century baseball, a place where many, many things are different than what we see today. A player choosing to stay in the field rather than walk past abusive fans while team bats? Players sitting in the opposing team's dugout? Fans on the field? They are all here. For all its positives, "War on the Basepaths" is not perfect. There are a few places where an incorrect word is used ("viral" where "virile" is clearly intended, "weary" instead of "wary", "council" instead of "counsel", etc). Further, Hornbaker occasionally falls into a pattern seen in the works of so many other authors covering baseball's dead ball era - the use of dated wording reminiscent of writings of the early 20th century. For example, on occasion Hornbaker refers to Cobb as a "batsman" rather than the modern "hitter" that would be more appropriate. In addition, Hornbaker largely accepts Cobb's explanation of not seeking to injure opposing players on the basepaths (with two exceptions). This acceptance ignores a very famous photo of Cobb that features him leaping him into a catcher at home plate with what looks to be a flying kick to a very tender place for the unfortunate recipient of Cobb's "slide". There are also occasional statistical oddities (at various points in the book, Ty's career games played number is given as 3033, 3034, and 3035). Still, these are (obviously) incredibly minor niggles in what is a fabulous work of baseball history. "War on the Basepaths" is a highly entertaining, very detailed yet eminently readable biography of the man once considered baseball's greatest-ever star (receiving more Hall of Fame votes than even Babe Ruth). Over its roughly 290 pages (supplemented by some 60 pages of footnotes), "War on the Basepaths" reaches the highest echelons of baseball biography previously reached by titles such as "The Big Bam", "Ted Williams: The Biography of an American Hero" and a handful of others. With "War on the Basepaths", Tim Hornbaker sought to produce the definitive biography of Ty Cobb. With his voluminous research and entertaining writing, Tim Hornbaker has achieved exactly that. Well done, Mr. Hornbaker.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Love

    http://www.audible.com/listener/ATLA4... http://www.audible.com/listener/ATLA4...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Chris Theule-VanDam

    Take a better look at Ty Cobb. He is more complicated than you think. Baseball's all-time greatest hitter. Take a better look at Ty Cobb. He is more complicated than you think. Baseball's all-time greatest hitter.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Chris Rhodes

  6. 4 out of 5

    Adam Bradley

  7. 5 out of 5

    David Farinelli

  8. 4 out of 5

    Craig Zimmerman

  9. 5 out of 5

    Martin

  10. 5 out of 5

    Timothy Hornbaker

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Toland

  12. 5 out of 5

    John Taylor

  13. 5 out of 5

    Luther Curtis

  14. 5 out of 5

    Joseph DeCato

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dick Hamilton

  16. 5 out of 5

    Roger Piasecki

  17. 4 out of 5

    Albert

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ed

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rick Souza

  20. 4 out of 5

    Cory Hubbell

  21. 4 out of 5

    Chris Quigley

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Granat

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kerry

  24. 5 out of 5

    William

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rock

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dan Neumann

  27. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Heerter

  28. 4 out of 5

    Skyhorse Publishing

  29. 5 out of 5

    John

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Deslatte

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