Winter Premier Auction 2021

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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 4/3/2021

Recent scholarship has debunked many of the dark stories that surrounded Ty Cobb both as a player and a man. Much of the disparaging stories derive from Cobb’s biographer Al Stump, who created many of the salacious tales out of thin air for his book, “Cobb: The Life and Times of the Meanest Man in Baseball.” And while Stump was the main person who exploited Cobb’s reputation for their own means, he was not alone. As this remarkably honest four-page letter reveals, the baseball legend had been the target of rumors and personal attacks long before he met Al Stump.
This four-page letter, dated January 21, 1949, was written to his friend Helene Champlain. Champlain was a New York-based author and confidant of many high-profile literary figures and actors. Cobb appears to have made her acquaintance in the 1920s and over the years corresponded frequently, mainly about literature recommendations. Cobb’s letter to Champlain begins with the Hall of Famer discussing his recent doctor visit after a gallbladder attack and goes on to talk about being on a “reducing” diet for most of the previous year which weakened him to the extent that his doctor forbid him to travel to Georgia for the holidays. “My nails were white, lips blue and sweating…” he writes, and then details the medicine he was prescribed. He reports that “today I feel better than in 15 years” and “I do feel good and lots of vitality.” He then goes on to talk about some gossip that he had heard from a Tom McClure, who appears to have been one of the hanger-on types that are always found around celebrities like Cobb. The ballplayer writes that McClure  “came here to tell me a line of stuff and lies where my son said some very disparaging things of me his father.” Cobb tells Helene how he tried to track down the root of the rumors and goes on to opine how “I can’t seem to understand why people and there has been others that seem to get jealous and drive a wedge between them and myself.” The old ballplayer then describes his ex-housekeeper who “wrote 4 poison letters with all kind of statements and rotten talk, said things I had said about others all lies, even planted things in my house, my property, in suitcases and dresser drawers” in an attempt to get Cobb to alienate his friends. Cobb ends the letter on a happier note, requesting a set of Thomas Jefferson books from his literary friend. The note is signed “Sincerely, Ty.”
The letter is written on four pages of Ty Cobb’s personal stationary, with the ballplayer switching between different ink colors and pens, including his trademark green, at different points in the letter. The pages show horizontal folds from mailing as well as light toning from age. The ink is clear and bright and Cobb’s “Ty” signature is executed with a nice flourish. The original envelope is included, which show the expected wear from mailing and opening. A very visually attractive letter containing a startling look into Cobb’s personal life and how he had to deal with the various hangers-on who tried to take advantage of his fame and fortune. Accompanied by a full LOA from PSA/DNA.

Estimate: $8,000 - $12,000+

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Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $3,000
Final prices include buyers premium.: $7,019
Number Bids: 7
Auction closed on Saturday, April 3, 2021.
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