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    

T206 Sweet Caporal Ty Cobb Green Portrait Psa 4Ty Cobb Autograph Signed Cut "5/27/52" The Georgia Peach Sgc Certified (lsl)T206 Ty Cobb Bat On Shoulder Detroit Sweet Caporal 150 Sgc 10 Poor 1T206 1911 Sweet Caporal-ty Cobb, Bat Off Shoulder, Detroit Tigers Hof, Sgc 50/41909 - 1911 T206 Ty Cobb (portrait Red Background) Detroit Tigers Rare Psa 11933 Sport Kings Gum Ty Cobb Sgc 70 Excellent 5.5 Beautiful Card #1 (lsl)1933 Goudey Sport Kings #1 Ty Cobb Detroit Tigers Hof Pro 7.5 Nm+1912 T202 Hassan Triple Folder Ty Cobb Psa 2 Steals Third Stovall/austin (lsl)1907 H.m. Taylor Tigers Team Baseball Postcard: Cobb,jennings,crawford1920 W516-1 #6 Ty Cobb Sgc Authentic Hand Cut Detroit Tigers ($600)Ty Cobb 2013 Topps Tribute To The Throne Game Used Bat 11/99Ty Cobb 1963 Sports Hall Of Fame Bust With Box($250) Ty Cobb Original 1968 Vintage Wooden Nickel Graded 10 - Rare FindBox 2010 Leaf Sports Icons Update 2 Cut Signatures Per Pack Cobb RuthExtremely Rare Ty Cobb 1915 Spalding Mint 9 Baseball CardLou Brock Sb #893 Full Unused Ticket Psa 6 Cardinals Passes Ty CobbTy Cobb 2009 Topps Tribute Black Game Used Bat 18/50July 12, 1924 Game Program Philadelphia Athletics Vs. Detroit Tigers-ty Cobb1916 Ferguson Bakery Ty Cobb Pennant2013 Tier One On Card Autos For Tyler Skaggs, Brock Holt & Alex CobbBox 2010 Leaf Sports Icons Update 2 Cut Signatures Per Pack Cobb RuthTy Cobb #89/99 2013 Topps Chasing History Bat Relic Game-used Card Detroit TigerSporting Life "exhibit" Series - "ty Cobb Demonstrates A Perfect Slide"Complete Set Baseball Cards 2012 Topps Golden Moments Die Cuts Ruth Cobb Mantle2010/11 Topps Photo Variation 6 Card Lot!!! Ty Cobb,nolan Ryan,& More!!!!Pete Rose Autographed Baseball Digest Reds Phillies Schmidt Bench Morgan CobbT202 Ty Cobb/moriarity Gai 2Rare Moore, Hellickson, Cobb #1/1 2013 Topps Triple Threads Auto/patch Card Rays2013 Triple Threads Auto Relic Trio Of Cobb, Lacy, Franklin 21/27 Packers Rare!Helmar Brewing Co. Cabinet #26 Ty Cobb Detroit Tigers HofHelmar Imperial Cabinet #6 Ty Cobb Detroit Tigers HofAlex Cobb 2011 Topps Chrome Auto #16/99 Sepia Refractor Rookie Card Rc!1909 T206 Piedmont Green Portrait, Ty Cobb, Cut Auto Card2012 National Treasures Ty Cobb Eddie Collins 2 Piece Game Used Dual Bat /252009 Topps T-206 Game Bat "ty Cobb" #fr-22 Detroit TigersHelmar Trolley Card Series #6 Ty Cobb Detroit Tigers Hof2014 Topps Series 2 Own The Name Alex Cobb Game Worn Letter Jersey Patch #1/11969-1970 Bazooka Ty Cobb Tigers Psa 6.5 *4636502013 Alex Cobb Topps Tier One 1 New Guard Auto Gold Ink Auto #'d /25 Rays Copper2014 Topps Museum Alex Cobb Quad Patch 4color Sp 1/751973 Topps #475 Ty Cobb All Time Batting Leader Near Mint+++ Set BreakTy Cobb Others 1984 Galasso Deckle Edge Art 1936-1946 Complete Set Mint & Sealed1911 T205 Piedmont Back, Ty Cobb Cut Auto Card120 Autographed Rookie Cards Luck-wilson-griffin-tannehill-jeffrey-cobb-cameron1911 T205 Ty Cobb Cut Auto CardTy Cobb 2012 National Treasures Triple Crown Winners G/u Bat #10/99 Tigers *Pete Rose Autograph "tips Hat After Tying Ty Cobb's Hitting Record Sept 8, 1985"Topps Bunt Vintage Set With Cobb Reward Card2013 Topps Triple Threads Ty Cobb Legend Relics Gu 12x Bat #/362010 Topps Sterling Gold Ty Cobb #5/5 Tigers1915 Cracker Jack, Ty Cobb Cut Auto CardSporting Life "t-size Series" - Tyrus Cobb, Detroit TigersAlex Cobb 2011 Bowman Chrome Orange Refractor Rc #'d 15/25 - Mint!! Rare!1911 T3 Turkey Red Ty Cobb1973 Topps #471 Ty Cobb All Time Hit Leader Nm-mt Set BreakLot Of 9 2014 Topps Tribute Blue Parallel #/99 Banks Tulowitzki Cobb HernandezAceo Art Sketch Card Ty Cobb Original 1/1 Drawing 1960 Fleer Hof 2013 Topps Alex Cobb Auto Chasing History2005 Sp Authentics Rookie Authentics Auto Rc #255 Deandra Cobb #012/8501933 Goudey Sport Kings #1 Ty Cobb, Cut Auto Card