Claim to fame: major-league baseball legend
DOB: December 18, 1886
Date of death: July 17, 1961
Diabetes type: 1
Ty Cobb was born on December 18, 1886 in Narrows, Georgia as the first of three sons. He spent the majority of his childhood in Georgia with his father, who was a schoolteacher, publisher, and senator. Cobb’s father urged him to study and excel in school, which the boy did; but after graduating high school, Cobb was off to professional baseball. After one season in the minor leagues, he began his twenty-two-season stint with the Detroit Tigers in the American League in 1905.
His first great season came with the Tigers in 1907, when they rode their success all the way to the World Series. His batting average was .350, and he went on to win nine consecutive batting titles beginning that season. Cobb’s best season was in 1911, when he led the league in almost every major offensive category, winning the American League MVP.
Cobb is credited with setting ninety major-league baseball records during his career, several of which he still holds to this day: the highest number of career batting titles at twelve, and the highest career batting average at .367.
Following the 1928 season, Cobb retired from major-league baseball. His retirement was followed closely by a vote at the 1938 Baseball Hall of Fame, and with his great talent and amazing attitude, Cobb quickly received the highest number of votes out of the first five players to be inducted, an astounding 222 out of a possible 226 votes.
After leaving baseball, Cobb spent the majority of his time on the West Coast. He used the money and fame he had gained in the sports world for good causes. Cobb endowed a number of charities, the most well-known being a string of hospitals in Georgia that are today known as the Ty Cobb Healthcare System. He also gave $100,000 in 1953 to establish the Cobb Educational Fund, which awarded college scholarships to needy Georgia students. Cobb also collaborated with John McCallum to write a combination how-to and biography entitled The Tiger Wore Spikes: An Informal Biography of Ty Cobb.
Having already known of a diagnosis of diabetes as well as cancer, Cobb’s family was well prepared when his death came on July 17, 1961. Cobb had been an early investor in Coca-Cola, and was involved in promoting the product. This revenue, along with his major-league salary, left Cobb very wealthy when he died. His estate was estimated to be worth $12 million.