But for some reason Armour gave me another chance the next spring. Over the 1905-1906 winter Detroit acquired Davey Jones, a fleet outfielder and a great leadoff man. That meant the three outfield jobs were up for grabs among Sam Crawford (a cinch), Matty McIntyre (a light hitter but a good ball hawk), Davey Jones and Ty Cobb.
Who'd sit on the bench.? It wouldn't be McIntyre, if a tightly organized clique could help it. At first there were no open clashes. McIntyre and his roommate, Twilight Ed Killian, began by locking me out of the hotel bathroom the players shared. During Pullman rides a soggy wad of newspaper would fly down the aisle and smack me in the neck. At batting practice I'd be jostled aside and told, "Get out to the infield, sandlotter." I cherished the fine ash bats I had collected. I found them smashed.
I now found myself eating alone, cold-shouldered in the clubhouse, and unable to find a permanent roommate. I had excellent reason to believe that it was Charlie Schmidt, a catcher, a burly 200-pound ex-miner from Coal Hill, Ark., who smashed my bats. Schmidt—in time—became my good friend, and was most likable, except when conned into fighting. We first clashed during a spring training trip down South, more of a wrestle than a fight. Moving into Mississippi, my tormentors told Charlie that I was claiming I licked him. At Hattiesburg I had just laced my shoes and was walking toward the field when I heard a voice growl my name. I turned, and Schmidt's punch caught me a crushing wallop that knocked me flat and broke my nose.
From then on a terrible anger was in me. Anger, hatred and humiliation. When I found my hat impaled on a hat rack, minus its crown, I walked up to my tormentors and said, "Whoever did this to my hat, stand up, you——!" They just grinned at me. I stalked down the aisle during a Pullman ride, raging mad, and yelling, "Get on your feet, the——who threw that!" But they wouldn't fight. I ate alone, roomed alone, walked alone.
My only support came from Wild Bill Donovan, the pitcher, who said to me, "Stick up for your rights." Toward the end of the season of 1906 my feud with McIntyre became so bad that the Tigers were dropping games because of it. In a game in St. Louis, George Stone drove a ball between me and McIntyre, splitting our positions. I broke for it and saw he hadn't budged. So I stopped dead still. The ball bounced between us and on to the fence for a home run.
Back at the dugout, the pitcher, Ed Siever, cursed me. Where I came from, men were killed for saying what he said. I jumped up and stood over him. "Get up! Get on your feet!" I shouted at him. He didn't get up. But that night at the Planter's Hotel I came down the staircase and wandered over to the cigar counter, when Siever edged up. Wild Bill Donovan put a hand between us. Siever muttered something and retreated to a corner of the lobby, where he huddled with McIntyre and others. I eased behind one of the lobby columns to listen in. Suddenly Siever came around the column, moving fast. He was a left-handed puncher as well as pitcher, and started one that would have removed my head if it had landed. But I smothered the blow and let go all my pent-up emotion. I hit him a right to the jaw that started him down and connected several times more as he was falling.
On the train leaving St. Louis I ran into Tom McMahon, our trainer. "You did one thing wrong," he said. ' "You kicked Siever after you had him down."
"I didn't have to kick him," I replied. To get to my berth I had to pass through a narrow aisle and there, stretched out on a seat, was Siever. "They tell me I kicked you," I said. "I don't recall any such thing. But if I did, I apologize."
He mumbled, "I'll get you."
In bed that night I didn't sleep. It was more than possible that I'd be attacked during the night. If so, I was ready. And I remained ready, until the day came when I was established as a Detroit regular and, one by one, my antagonists dropped away. Through 1906 I was harassed to the point of hating to show up at the park, and in the spring of 1907 the Tigers came close to trading me away. A deal was discussed that would have sent me to New York in exchange for Billy Hogg, a 14-game pitcher. Also, Hughie Jennings, our new manager, had a dicker working with Cleveland—me for Elmer Flick, a .311 outfielder. "How come you want to get rid of Cobb?" Jennings was asked.