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Donald Gropman
June 25, 1979
The victory of Detroit's Ty Cobb over Cleveland's Shoeless Joe Jackson in the 1911 American League batting race is part of baseball lore. It is often cited as the perfect example of Cobb's cunning, the clearest demonstration of how he put his keen intelligence to work in the service of his career. The story has frequently appeared in print.
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June 25, 1979

It Wasn't Cunning That Won Cobb His 1911 Batting Title, It Was Talent

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In his autobiography, The Tumult and the Shouting, Rice described Cobb as "perhaps the shrewdest man I ever knew" and, after telling of Cobb's self-promotional letters, presented the stock version of Cobb's "last-minute victory" over Jackson in 1911. It's easy to understand Cobb's motivation for inventing the story, but we are left to wonder why the writers accepted and promoted it, particularly men like Rice, who were covering baseball in 1911.

In the early 1940s, when Cobb's tale had become a part of baseball lore, Jackson tried to set the record straight: "A story you now hear from time to time, that Ty bulldozed me by getting my goat in a conceived plan to ignore me in Cleveland in that important final series, is just a lot of hooey. Ty was able to beat me out because he got more hits than I did." Jackson told the truth, but few believed him, and Cobb's version continues to be told to this day.

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