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Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  1,245 ratings  ·  278 reviews
Finally - a fascinating and authoritative biography of perhaps the most controversial player in baseball history, Ty Cobb.

Ty Cobb is baseball royalty, maybe even the greatest player who ever lived. His lifetime batting average is still the highest of all time, and when he retired in 1928, after twenty-one years with the Detroit Tigers and two with the Philadelphia Athletic
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published May 12th 2015 by Simon Schuster
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Scott In this book, Leerhsen painstakingly researches the contemporaneous eyewitness testimonies to paint a more accurate picture. In the other Cobb biograp…moreIn this book, Leerhsen painstakingly researches the contemporaneous eyewitness testimonies to paint a more accurate picture. In the other Cobb biographies, the authors did not let the facts get in the way of a good story.(less)
Janet Absolutely. Even Ken Burns got it wrong.

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Brett C
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography

This was an enjoyable read and dispelled a lot of the false accusations I had about Ty Cobb. This book was not written to slam on the embellishing Al Stump but his lies and fabricated material are exposed. Charles Leerhsen does an excellent job of telling Ty Cobb's story from his outlook on the game, his psychological approach to baseball, accusations of the Baker spiking incident and the 1919 World Series incident, and his inevitable decline. I was surprised at how way off-base my thoughts were
Aaron Million
Apr 09, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: baseball, biography
Charles Leerhsen's biography of Detroit Tiger great Ty Cobb won a CASEY Award for being the best baseball book the year that it came out. After reading it, I do not understand why. From the moment this book begins, Leerhsen makes it clear that he is out to disprove and reject earlier biographies of Cobb, two in particular which he repeatedly singles out. Gradually it seemed that he was more interested in engaging in biographical sniping against earlier authors than he was in getting out Cobb's s ...more
Alec Rogers
May 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Like many students of baseball history, I had always admired Cobb the player but believed Cobb the person much less admirable. I assumed he was simply a man of his time and place who could not overcome being born in the Deep South during segregation nor perhaps a natural inclination towards misanthropy. Charles Leerhsen’s Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty has convinced that nearly everything I “knew” about Cobb was wrong.

Largely thanks to scholarship that emerged only at the very end of Cobb’s life (an
Blaine DeSantis
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fantastic sports read about one of the two or three greatest baseball players of all time. This book on Ty Cobb sets the record straight about the man and ballplayer. It dispels the awful myths that have been around since the Al Stump book back in 1961 and which were further solidified in the publics mind after the fine performance by Tommy Lee Jones in the movie Cobb. Unfortunately neither the book nor the movie got it right and there are so many inaccuracies that it shameful.
Here Charles Lee
Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: baseball
Ty Cobb A Terrible Beauty, written by Charles Leerhsen and published in 2015, is a colorful and well balanced biography. There is a heavy emphasis on setting the record straight on Cobb’s life. Several scandalous and tabloid quality books have been written about him with many incidents that were largely made up. There was an attempt to enhance a narrative that Cobb was psychotic, a racist, a womanizer and a man who liked to hurt people. In the view of Leerhsen, who spends dozens of pages address ...more
May 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Baseball is a game that relies on, leans on, its apocrypha to tell the history of the game and its players, which is curious when one thinks about it, because baseball is also inextricably tied to statistics and record-keeping. Damn near everything I had ever been told about Ty Cobb; that he was a violent, racist, dyspeptic, spike-sharpening, drug addicted criminal, is blown away by the work and research Charles Leerhsen did in writing this book.

I'm a deep fan, not just of the game of baseball,
Pamela Montano
Jun 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Ty Cobb will always be my all-time favorite baseball player. There will never be another one like him. This book takes all the myths, all the stories and all the nonsense you've heard about Cobb and tries to set the record straight. He wasn't a racist or a spikes sharpening maniac who set out to hurt anyone who didn't look like or act like him. He did, however, expect ballplayers to keep their head in the game and train hard and play harder. He had no patience for incompetence and expected every ...more
Nov 22, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: bios, history, baseball
First, the good parts: Leerhsen in "A Terrible Beauty" does an incredible job tearing apart what anyone who follows baseball has thought they've known about Ty Cobb. It's been repeated so often, no one has even thought for decades to question that Cobb was a violent racist, one of the worst human beings to be so good at the game of baseball -- a single-man case study in why the Hall of Fame's character clause should not be taken seriously in modern-day debates over whether to induct known and su ...more
Apr 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Poignant, thoroughly researched biography of a very misunderstood and ridiculously talented baseball player. This book also gives a fascinating glimpse into the deadball era, where fistfights among players and fans, players and umpires, players and players were commonplace...where players walked off the field in the middle of a game if they didn't agree with the call, where hazing the newbies was potentially deadly (both physically and emotionally). And as a fan of the Detroit Tigers, the birth ...more
Budd Bailey
May 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Baseball great Ty Cobb never needed much help on the baseball field. This name from a century ago is all over the record book, as he is one of the great hitters and base stealers in history.

What he needed was someone who knew something about public relations and marketing. Somewhere along the way, it became accepted that Cobb was a racist madman who skirted the edge of the rules while compiling such an incredible record.

Author Charles Leerhsen investigated the facts extensively for his new book,
Gary Geiger
Jul 21, 2015 rated it liked it
If what Leerhsen writes in this book is true, it may be a very important book. To quote baseball netizen Andy Morsund, "It ... corrects many of the myths about Cobb that were perpetrated by Al Stump and the Tommy Lee Jones movie, and partly reinforced by Charles Alexander's bio, and not just about Cobb's racial attitudes." The book has a great screenplay,but the cinematography is subpar.

Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty is written in a sometimes irritating style where Leerhsen occasionally breaks the f
Judith Follo
Jul 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Very enlightening on a few facts about Ty that i did not know. This book shows another side to the man and the legend he was. I also enjoyed the pictures that were added in the book. I think anyone that is a Tigers fan would love this book. Or anyone interested in the history of baseball. It was well put together and gave you alot of facts.
Rodney Nash
Jan 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is in a style for those that enjoy the combined history, storyteller, and fact checker approach. The dead ball era of this history was simply an amazing read and the author Charles Leerhsen brought this era to life within these pages. The many reported upon stories of games that ended in ties because it was too dark to see the ball put a smile thought on my face as I passed through the pages. Ty Cobb certainly studied, continuously reviewed, and ultimately knew the mechanics of basebal ...more
May 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
I learned of this book after seeing an article (and subsequent YouTube video) on author Charles Leerhsen and his strong case that Ty Cobb was (and has been all these years) branded as someone he is not. I found the information really interesting as I had (along with most others) thought of Cobb as a dirty player, racist and with a vapid mean streak. After all, that's how he had been portrayed in numerous books, a biopic and even in Ken Burns' iconic documentary series Baseball. But that's all I ...more
Jun 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
When a friend discovered I was reading this book, he said "I really hope the Ty Cobb book just says 'He was a gigantic racist asshole' and leaves the rest of the pages blank." I didn't want it to say this, however, because I had discovered the book through an interview the author Charles Leerhsen had with Keith Olbermann on ESPN. In the interview, Leerhsen indicated that he had gone into the project thinking that was what he would find, only to find that most of the things that we know and belie ...more
Scott Lee
Jul 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Excellent sports biography. This book is a fantastic example of its genre. The writing is spry and witty when appropriate, the sources are specific, well researched and accurate and the writer obviously passionately cares about his subject.

I've been fascinated by Baseball and its stars since early childhood. I've read a lot of rather blah ghostwritten biographies/autobiographies as a result. I'd read a book about Cobb at some point in my childhood, so I had some idea of just what a fantastic pl
Apr 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you are a sports fan, especially a baseball fan, then this is an interesting read. It was great to listen to during the post season as the KC Royals battled the Houston Astros. I love baseball so I really enjoyed this book.
May 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A well researched book that debunks many of the negative myths about one of the greatest players of all time. Full review is posted here:
Andy Miller
Aug 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
This new, well researched, biography of Ty Cobb acknowledges today's consensus that Ty Cobb was a great baseball player but horrible person; in "Field of Dreams" the Shoeless Joe Jackson character says that Cobb wasn't invited because no one could stand him, in Ken Burns' epic tv documentary, Cobb is described that way, those conclusions are consistent with the biographies written after his death along with the disturbing conclusion that Cobb was much more racist than others of his time

Harold Kasselman
Jun 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I have some issues with the book but it still gets 5 stars. In my opinion Mr. Leerhsen tends to minimize and euphemistically characterize the actions and behavior of Cobb. For example, most of Cobb's fistfights with ball players,or fans, or strangers are chalked up to the natural rowdiness of the game or the culture of a new century. The allegation that opposing and even teammates hated him is dismissed as exaggeration, based on jealousy, or simply not true. (players voted to strike when Cobb wa ...more
Leo Jr.
Jan 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A well written book, very nice style, but most importantly it corrected (or tried to) a terrible wrong done to Mr Cobb by Al Stump. Mr Stump's attempts at writing give a black eye to anyone who takes this field seriously. This author (Charles Leerhsen) does a great job of being fair in his treatment of Cobb and also attacking the poor efforts of Mr. Stump. It's a crime that Al Stump's article about Ty Cobb is considered a great piece of journalism.
As for this book, one of the reasons I like it s
Jerry Kolwinska
May 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is not a spellbinder if that is what you are looking for. Leerhsen presents you with a biography that is solidly based in research not hyperbole. His portrait of Cobb is nuanced one - a subject who is multifaceted and complex. Cobb is a perfectionist whose on and off field behavior makes him an eccentric in the truest American tradition. As a baseball book, I think it is superb. Cobb's style of play, which comes through in this biography, made him the best player of his era, and perhaps of ...more
Jul 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
I won this book in a goodreads drawing.

This is probably now the definitive biography of Ty Cobb. The author does the unthinkable, and actually reads the primary documents instead of simply accepting the conventional wisdom. He finds a Cobb that was very driven man, prone to violence, but not the murdering racist monster so often portrayed. The evidence was always there, but the story and stereotype were just too good to check.

Even goes into his World War 1 service, and lists all of Cobb's statis
David V.
Apr 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Received as an ARC from the publisher. Started 4-15-15. Finished 4-27-15.I hadn't read a lot about Cobb, but what I'd heard wasn't very favorable. Mr. Leerhsen's book and his detailed research have changed my mind. He's shown that much of the negative comments were either exaggerations by tabloid sportswriters of the era, or downright fabrications by players, coaches and others who had their own agendas.Cobb's determination to succeed and his devil-may-care attitude brought excitement to basebal ...more
Dwayne McIntosh
May 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Great read. Most of what I knew of Ty Cobb came from the awful movie with Tommy Lee Jones. Seems everything people knew was a lie based on a book by Stump.
Vilified as a racist, dirty player and more. And now the record gets set straight.
Jesse D
Jun 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
I always had the feeling that Ty Cobb's reputation had been sullied in some way and this book verifies it. This is an excellent book which accurately portrays Cobb's life with many sources that show him as a great baseball player and a decent human being that behaved like many of us do
Chris Dean
May 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Best book that I have read this year. Finally the record has been set straight. May Cobb finally rest in peace.
May 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding! A must read for all baseball fans. So much of what we knew about Ty Cobb is wrong after all. Incredible read!
Phil C
Jun 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Well researched & eye opening in destroying many of the myths regarding the great Ty Cobb. Highly recommend to any true baseball fan. ...more
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Reading Along Wit...: Charles Leerhsen, "Ty Cobb: Terrible Beauty" 1 5 May 07, 2015 06:02AM  

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While books about anti-racism are trending on Goodreads and dominating the bestseller lists right now, some of our favorite Black authors are a...
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“One day in the spring of 1894 or so, Amanda Cobb looked out her kitchen window and saw Tyrus and a bunch of Negro boys merrily hauling a cart laden with scrap metal, broken furniture, and other things they’d found in backyards and vacant lots around town. They were headed toward the junkyard to try to make a few dollars, and Mrs. Cobb knew for what. “He was always thinking up ways of earning money to buy baseball supplies,” she would tell a writer for the Springfield (Massachusetts) Sunday Union and Republican in 1928. “He was always playing when he was a child. In fact, we had a hard time getting him to go to school. I remember that the first money he earned he spent for a mitt. He couldn’t have been more than six years old when a neighbor asked him to take his cow to the pasture and gave Ty some change for doing it. Ty didn’t buy candy or ice cream. He knew what he wanted, and he got it—a baseball glove.” 2 likes
“Each note Cobb wrote contained a rave review of his abilities over a fictitious signature. “Ty Cobb is really tearing up the horsehide in the Tennessee-Alabama League—Jack Smith.” Instead of sending off these pieces right away, Ty would drop them in mailboxes at various points along the Steelers’ circuit, the better to create the impression of a grassroots movement.” 2 likes
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