29 November 2003 | Chukar
What a Ballplayer, comedy
This film is one of my all time favorites. There are some things in the film that I am less than happy about, such as the attempted rape in the hotel room in Reno. I don't believe it actually happened. I have read a few biographical books on Cobb and even though few people ever liked him, there were some things he would not do. Its strange, but many people will see somebody who is detestable, in most respects, and that person is therefore guilty of anything that can be said about him. Ty Cobb was a "son of the south" who never got over his father's murder, and he also never, ever, got over the Civil War. As I recall, he entered the major's in 1904 or 1905.
As I said above, the movie "Cobb" is best viewed as a comedy; and I think it was intended to be seen as such by the film makers. I compare it to the film, "A Clockwork Orange." In A Clockwork Orange you had a story of a guy name Alex who had things happen to him, often humorous, because of who he was. At the end of A Clockwork Orange, in the last scene, you have to admit that you could only snicker at what was on Alex's mind listening to his beloved 9th once again, since he had now been "cured." I also remember the scene in the film that you see from the Bible where Jesus is carrying the cross and is being flogged. The camera pans back to the Roman who is doing the whipping, and it is Alex.
In Cobb, the first part of the movie is one of the funniest I have ever seen; especially the ride down the hill in the snow to Reno. The film has a lot of truth in it but it actually leaves out a lot. The Scene in which you see Cobb beating up the fan who is crippled is true. But what is not said is that the whole team put itself on the line in backing Cobb in what he did; they went on strike against Cobb's suspension. So, Cobb was not hated quite like he was shown to be in the film, and the film did a discredit to Cobb in some areas. Oh, by the way, that fan that was beatup in the film was Jimmy Buffet from "Lost in Margaritaville" music fame. Jimmy is a good friend of Tommy Lee Jones.
Actually, I rather doubt that you could make a real true film about Ty Cobb that could be saleable at the box-office. Ty Cobb was not funny, and he had little sense of humor; he absolutely had no sense of humor about himself. He was a bigot. You did not dare make fun of him to his face. He could explode into a life threatening altercation at the drop of a hat. However, I do believe he was courteous to women for the most part, and that is another area I have problem with what is depicted in the film. Cobb was a Redneck and a great deal like many other Rednecks from the south at that time. In his time there was a great deal of KKK activity going on in the South and the rest of the country for that matter. Cobb reflected his times, and never changed.
Also, baseball was a lot different then than it is today. It was a completely different time. Baseball was the ticket for the poor and exploited to get out of the coal mines, the iron mills, or the farm fields. It was much more of a dog eat dog world than it is today. The average player today can move into some other endeavor if he didn't make it. In Cobb's time, it was back to the coal mines and an early death. To quote Ty Cobb: "It's no pink tea, and mollycoddler's had better stay out." Baseball was a do or die affair and there were no holds barred as long as you could get away with it.
Cobb, in many ways was not that different than many, but he was the best baseball player of his time, and quite possibly the greatest that ever lived. And, he played baseball with a fury that nobody else, before or since, has played with. Unfortunately, he could not turn off that fury when he wasn't playing the game. For Ty Cobb, baseball was absolute war and he devoted himself 100-percent to playing it that way and he also devoted his mental capacities 100-percent to the study of getting the edge on his opponents. He would do or say anything to get you out of your game. Cobb could also circle the bases faster than anyone who has ever played the game, with his spikes sharpened. He was rather big for his time and was about the same height as Babe Ruth. Couple that size with that speed and the grit in his demeanor and nobody ever enjoyed or looked forward to playing against him. "What a ballplayer."