Friday, May 24, 2013

Grandson Humanizes Baseball Titan Ty Cobb

Book Review by Patrick Harwood
Heart of a Tiger: Growing up with My Grandfather, Ty Cobb
By Herschel Cobb
ECW Press
288 Pages
$24.95

Gentle, patient and giving may not be the qualities most people would use to describe Ty Cobb, one of baseball's all-time greats. Gritty, aggressive, even dirty and racist might be the Cobb many people, past and present, perceive.

But readers get to see a different side to the legendary "Georgia Peach" in "Heart of a Tiger: Growing up with My Grandfather, Ty Cobb," by his grandson Herschel Cobb.

If you want a rich, insightful baseball story, you won't find it here. It's page 175 before young Herschel begins to realize his granddad's extraordinary exploits, which included an incredible 90 Major League Baseball records when he retired in 1928 after 23 seasons, all but one as an outfielder with the Detroit Tigers.

"Heart of a Tiger" is about relationships, especially about fathers and sons. In Herschel's case, as depicted in much of the book's first half, his father was an abusive tyrant who enjoyed teasing Herschel and his sister to the point of torture, on occasion. His mother was no gem either. She was a drinker (as was her husband) who sometimes said and usually acted like she wished she did not have children.