Al Stump is a famous sports-writer chosen by Ty Cobb to co-write his official, authorized 'autobiography' before his death. Cobb, widely feared and despised, feels misunderstood and wants to set the record straight about 'the greatest ball-player ever,' in his words. However, when Stump spends time with Cobb, interviewing him and beginning to write, he realizes that the general public opinion is largely correct. In Stump's presence, Cobb is angry, violent, racist, misogynistic, and incorrigibly abusive to everyone around him. Torn between printing the truth by plumbing the depths of Cobb's dark soul and grim childhood, and succumbing to Cobb's pressure for a whitewash of his character and a simple baseball tale of his greatness, Stump writes two different books. One book is for Cobb, the other for the public.Written by
Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
Much of how Cobb was portrayed in this film has now been widely recognized as inaccurate. Al Stump's books and magazine articles on Cobb have now been widely discredited, and serious baseball historians give Stump's account of the later years of Cobb's life very little credence. Charles Leerhsen's biography, "Ty Cobb, A Terrible Beauty," sets the record straight. Cobb did NOT attempt to have sex with the cocktail waitress in Las Vegas and then attempt to pay her off (Stump fabricated this), and many other alleged darker aspects of Cobb's life are just plain not true. Several serious baseball historians have labeled this film highly inaccurate. See more »
Cobb is seen being treated by a black nurse at Emory University Hospital shortly before his death. In 1961, Georgia hospitals and their staff were still strictly segregated. See more »
Who are you again?
I am the Georgia Peach. I have 4,191 base hits in 11,429 at bats, 920 stolen bases, 2,244 runs scored, and 93 batting records; and I want you to take off every stitch of your clothes.
I don't think so.
[Cobb points a gun to her head]
That don't scare me, 'cause if you shoot me, I'll be dead. And you're not gonna screw a dead lady!
I might like it.
See more »
After the credits are complete and the screen is black, Jones is heard to say "Baseball was 100% of my life." See more »
Tyrus R. Cobb, the greatest ballplayer in his or any other era just by the statistics. Though both Ricky Henderson and others have eclipsed his base stealing record and Pete Rose took down his record for lifetime base hits, Cobb still has a whole lot more still standing including that .367 lifetime batting average.
He fought each and every athletic contest like Nathan Bedford Forrest going against the hated North. God help a pitcher who shaved the ball a little too inside or an infielder who dared get in his way.
Did he have to be the way he was to win ballgames? I doubt that very much. A whole lot of other athletes like Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, George Sisler, Honus Wagner ran up some pretty impresive statistics of their own without resorting to the violence Cobb did. The number of his contemporaries who showed up for his funeral you could count on one hand.
Ty Cobb was a typical product of the Populist South of the 1890s and his views on various types of people reflected all the prejudices of Georgia during that time. But he also hid a terrible family secret that no doubt twisted him beyond anything remotely humane.
What's not mentioned in the film is that Ty Cobb got in on the ground floor of something called Coca Cola. The owner of the Detroit Tigers where Cobb played most of his career was one Frank Navin. Navin was a bookkeeper for the original owners of the team and he sunk his life savings into buying a controlling interest and later getting partners who would be silent and let him run things. Navin's salary battles with Cobb were annual winter sportswriter fodder. Cobb didn't make his money in baseball, but was far luckier financially than nearly all of his contemporaries.
It's important to remember that this is not a biographical film. It is the story of sportswriter Al Stump's relationship with the dying Ty Cobb as Stump was busy living with him and getting inside his head to write his story. I read both Cobb's whitewashed version of an autobiography that came out just before his death in 1961 and Stump's later account.
Curiously enough Babe Ruth also had Bob Considine ghost write an autobiography the way Stump did for Cobb. That book was the basis of the Bill Bendix film The Babe Ruth Story. It's as Ruth would have wished to be remembered. Other more factual accounts of the Babe have since appeared and his legend hasn't dimmed any. I suspect neither will Cobb's.
Tommy Lee Jones gives a pluperfect portrayal of a Georgia redneck who happened to be the best baseball player whoever lived. Robert Wuhl is also very good as Al Stump and the months they had veer from the wildly comic to the tragic.
This is not how Ty Cobb would wish to be remembered. But given his life he's lucky the film and book were so favorable.
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