Baseball’s first superstar, Ty Cobb, played 24 seasons in the Major Leagues, mainly for the Detroit Tigers. Ironically nicknamed “The Georgia Peach,” Cobb was anything but sweet. Instead, he was known for his volatile demeanor, both on and off the field. For example, he would sharpen his metal cleats before games in order to intimidate fielders who might try to tag him out while he was sliding into a base. Such aggressive acts left Cobb with a less-than-stellar reputation among players and fans.

Despite setting 90 records as a player, some of which still stand today, Cobb did not have the appeal of other early stars like Babe Ruth. His frequent fights with teammates, opponents, and the public irritated many. Collectors, however, covet his items, especially his baseball cards, which are among the most sought-after ever printed.

Cobb debuted for the Tigers in 1905, and by 1907 he was one of the premier outfielders in all of baseball. The first Cobb baseball cards were in the 1909-1911 T206 white border series published by American Tobacco. There were five Cobb cards printed in that collection, though only four are generally considered part of the set. The set contains the legendary Honus Wagner card, but the quartet of Cobb cards are considered vital parts.

The four Cobb cards are often collected as a mini-set, like the four Babe Ruth cards in the 1933 Goudey set. Two of the cards are portraits, with the green portrait being rarer than its red counterpart. All four cards are difficult to find in high-grade, as they were stored in tobacco packs.

Cobb's fifth T206 card is nearly identical to the red portrait, but instead of an advertisement for a tobacco brand, the back of the card simply reads: “‘Ty Cobb’ King of the Smoking Tobacco World.” This card is nearly impossible to come across, which is why it is not considered part of the complete T206 set.

While the T206 set gets the lion’s share of attention from collectors of early 20th-century baseball cards, there are other Cobb cards from 1911 that may be even more appealing. In 1911, Cobb also appeared on a T205 Gold Border card—like the T206s, cards in this set were also distributed with tobacco products. Cards in the T205 set are graphically more interesting than those in the T206 set, but the gold perimeters give collectors headaches as the edges are prone to chipping at the slightest touch.

Cobb’s most stunning card, and possibly one of the most beautiful cards ever made, is his little-known 1911 T3 Turkey Red Cabinets card. The massive (5 ¾” by 8”) card shows Cobb ...

Not only was 1911 a good year for Cobb in terms of baseball cards, but he also posted video-game-like numbers on the field. For the year, Cobb batted a career high .420, with 127 runs batted in and 83 stolen bases.

A year later, Cobb was featured along with Hall of Famer Hughie Jennings on a T202 Hassan Triple Folders card entitled “Ty Cobb Steals 3rd.” Although Cobb was on a number of other cards in the set, this is considered the best and most desired because it features portraits of him and Jennings, two Hall of Famers, sandwiched around one of the best sports photographs ever.

The photograph exemplifies Cobb’s intensity. It shows him sliding hard into third base, with the third baseman swinging his leg out of the way to avoid Cobb's notorious cleats. Cobb is biting his bottom lip, a show of his aggression on the base paths.

The T202 Hassan is another larger card (5 ¼” by 2 ¼”), and it is condition sensitive because it was designed to be folded. Finding one that has not been folded is a Holy Grail for many collectors.

One of Cobb’s most striking cards comes from the 1914-15 Cracker Jack set. These years were great seasons for Cobb. He won his fourth and fifth consecutive batting titles (he would win 11 for his career) and asserted himself as the game's biggest star.

The Cracker Jack card shows Cobb looking like one mean son of a gun. He is standing, bat in hand, staring forward as if to bait the pitcher. It is hard to tell if Cobb intends to hit the ball or the pitcher. Unfortunately, despite this card’s vividness, it is nearly impossible to find one in decent condition because it was packed with candy boxes, which means many copies were ruined by caramel staining.

Cobb played with the Tigers through the 1926 season before joining the Philadelphia Athletics for two seasons prior to retirement.

When the Baseball Hall of Fame's inaugural class was inducted in 1936, Cobb received the highest percentage of votes, 98.2 percent. Not surprisingly, Hall of Fame busts of Cobb are prized commodities among collectors.

Other desired Cobb artifacts are statues and posters. Cobb’s autograph, unfortunately, is extremely difficult to come by, and even if you find one, adding it to your collection will cost you a serious chunk of change. In all likelihood, if you do come across a Cobb autograph it will be a “cut,” which is the term for a loose piece of paper, and not on a ball or a photograph. Cobb's autograph is also seldom found alone. More often than not it will be paired with that of another star like Wagner.

During his playing days and after retiring, Cobb endorsed Coca-Cola. For those who collect both, there's a fair amount of Cobb Coke memorabilia available, including newspaper ads and replica bottles.

Despite retiring in 1928, one more baseball card featured Cobb: a 1932 U.S. Caramel. The cards in this set include famous athletes from various sports—both boxers and golfers were represented—but it mainly consisted of baseball legends, including Cobb. This set is one of the scarcest there is, and Cobb’s card, a bust of his aged angry face, is one of the keys to it, along with cards for Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

Cobb lived until 1961, and his all-time hits record stood until another ballplayer with PR problems, Pete Rose, broke it in 1985.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Old Cardboard

Old Cardboard

Check out this well-organized collection of 500 sets of baseball cards, each over 50 years old. Browsable by type a… [read review or visit site]

The Baseball Card Blog

The Baseball Card Blog

Ben Henry's lively vintage baseball card blog, started in January 2006, offers hundreds of great posts on (and pict… [read review or visit site]

Cardboard Junkie

Cardboard Junkie

Dave Campbell's in-depth blog on old baseball (and some football) cards lives up to it's motto: 'do cards, not drug… [read review or visit site]

Baseball Cards 1887-1914

Baseball Cards 1887-1914

Roll up your socks for this Library of Congress collection showcasing hundreds of players on colorful early basebal… [read review or visit site]

Baseball Hall of Fame

Baseball Hall of Fame

A home run for baseball collectors, this site features special online exhibits, ranging from a baseball-uniforms da… [read review or visit site]



Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

1909 E95 Philadelphia Caramel Ty Cobb Psa 5 Ex (pwcc)Ty Cobb 2015 National Treasures Career Prime Jersey Card #d 08/101933 Goudey Sport Kings Gum #1 Ty Cobb Sgc 30 Gd 2 Like Psa 2 No Reserve1921 W551 Hand Cut Ty Cobb Psa 4.5 Vg-ex+ Pop 21953-55 Artvue Hall Of Fame Postcard Plaque Type 1 Ty Cobb Signed Autograph1932 U.s Caramel #14 Ty Cobb Baseball Psa 2.5 Good+ B33521Danbury Mint Baseball Legends Chess Set - Ruth, Gehrig, Mays, Cobb, WilliamsTy Cobb 2016 National Treasures - Game-used Bat Relic Sp /25 - Georgia PeachPsa/loa Ty Cobb Autographed Letter!! Rare Autograph W/ Envelope!2014 Ty Cobb Immaculate Collection The Greatest Game Used Bat 19/492016 Panini Preferred Pro Bowl Prime Patch Romo/ingram/sanders/cobb/witten /10Ty Cobb 1912 T202 Hassan Triple Folder Sgc Very Good 3 Wow! -must Sell !1914 B18 Blanket Ty Cobb White Infield1927 Ty Cobb Babe Ruth Signed Baseball Sports Memorabilia Read Listing Ty Cobb Signed Letter 3 Pages With Envenlope Nice Autograph Full Psa LoaHelmar Trolley Card Series #6 Ty Cobb Detroit Tigers Hof2015 Tcsp Top Shelf Ty Cobb Game Used Bat Barrel /50 Hof Tigers2016 National Treasures Baseball Ty Cobb Bat Relic2016 Immaculate Collection Joe Jackson Lou Gehrig Ty Cobb Triple Jersey Bat 2/15Ty Cobb Panini Pantheon Game Used Bat 3/10T202-helmar #8 Ty Cobb & Sam Crawford Together Detroit TigersTed Williams / Ty Cobb 2002 Donruss Classics Combos Game-used Bat 08/25Ty Cobb Cooperstown Collection Bobble Head 1973 Topps Baseball Partial Complete Set Lot (109/660) Dif Cards Cobb Reggie Hi#Huge Baseball Lot! Mantle,spahn,ruth,cobb, Many Authenticated Hall Of Fame LotSporting Life Chewing Gum, #96 - Babe Ruth & Ty Cobb, Hof Legends!Noblespirit No Reserve {3970} Signed Ty Cobb Cachet By Pete Rose & More!1921 W551 Ty Cobb Original Hand Cut Authentic CardR318-helmar Hey-batter! #67 Ty Cobb Detroit Tigers Hof1960 Fleer Baseball --- Ty Cobb #42Helmar Brewing Co. Big League Stars # 30 Our Detroit Tigers Featuring Ty Cobb1975 Fleer Pioneers Of Baseball Complete 28 Card Set Cap Anson Ty Cobb Cy Young2015 Panini Contenders David Cobb Magenta Printing Plate 1/1 Tennessee TitansTy Cobb 1916 M101-4 Sporting News Baseball Card Selling As Vintaged ReprintTy Cobb 96/99 2011 Topps Tribute Dual Relic Tdr-tc Tigers HofTed Williams Autographed 8x10 Photo .."with Ty Cobb".......certified1961 Nu Card Scoops Baseball Cards, Lot Of 21. Spahn, Cobb,podres, Check It OutBob Feller Honus Wagner Ty Cobb Golden Legends 22-karat Gold Foil Mlb Cards($200) Ty Cobb Detroit Tigers 1980 Black & White Rare Vintage CardBabe Ruth/ty Cobb 1921 W551 Baseball Card Selling As A Vintaged Reprint!!1908 E102 Ty Cobb Rookie Card,set Of 25,ungradedApprox 55 Diff 1960's Topps Fleer Post Oddball Lot Clemente Banks Cobb Wills R1909 E90-1 Ty Cobb American Caramel Card In Screw Holder Selling As Reprint1921 E121 Ty Cobb American Caramel Lancaster Read Listing .. Free Shipping Offer1979 Topps #411 Hits Leaders Ty Cobb, George Sisler Psa 10 (gem Mint) 1909-11 T206 Ty Cobb Baseball Card,bat On Shoulder,ungradedLou Gehrig Babe Ruth Tris Speaker Ty Cobb 51 Style Reprint Custom Made Aceo 1/1 Ty Cobb 1909 T206 W/bat Piedmont Back Baseball Card Selling As Vintaged Reprint2010 Topps Tribute Relics Gold Ty Cobb Tr-tc..20/25..beckett 9.5 Gem MintTy Cobb/ Curtis Granderson 2010 Topps #ll-5 (legendary Lineage)(tigers)!!2017 Topps Ty Cobb Legend Insert Tigers!!!Baseball Magazine May 1920 John Mcgraw Babe Ruth Ty CobbLot Of 4 W516 Babe Ruth / T206 Ty Cobb / T210 Honus Wagner / Cy Young Caramel1902 Sporting Life Ty Cobb Auto Back Card In Screw Holder Selling As Reprint1909 T206 Ty Cobb Piedmont Back Card In Screwdown Holder Selling As Reprint1973 Topps Baseball 50 Card Lot With Stars Clemente Cobb Stargell Baylor FosterTy Cobb #21 Sketch Card Limited 19/25 Edward Vela SignedTy Cobb Strip Card Packers 2 Card Lot - Nelson Crown Gold /25 + Cobb Elite Purple Parallel /253 Ty Cobb Cards 1910 T210 Orange Border / 1923 W515 / 1920 W516 .. Read Listing