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    

Babe Ruth Cobb Gehrig Signed Auto '28 Yankees Athletics Ball Auto Jsa Loa (pwcc)Ty Cobb 2014 National Treasures Cut Signature Autograph Card W/ Real Bat Piece !T206 Ty Cobb Red Portrait ** Psa 1 ** Polar Bear - Hall Of Fame LegendT206 Ty Cobb Portrait, Green Background Sgc 30(2)Noblespirit No Reserve {3970} 1920's Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb + Signed Baseball W/coa!1909-1911-t206-ty-cobb-red-portrait-king Of The Smoking Tobacco World Nice Card1909 T206 Ty Cobb Red Portrait Sgc Authentic Baseball Tobacco Card Sweet Caporal Rare * 1963 Bazooka Gold Foil Partial 21 Card Set * Honus Ty Cobb ToppsOld Ty Cobb Cigarette Baseball Card Unknown YearTy Cobb Cut AutographTy Cobb 2015 National Treasures Baseball Tigers Hof Relic Bat Card /99 ! Sp1913 Tom Barker Game Setbreak Ty Cobb Hof Detroit2016 Diamond Kings Dk Elements Of Royalty /5 Ty Cobb Dual Relic Bat Tigers Er Tc2015 National Treasures Tag David Cobb Rpa 1/3 Auto Rc #138 Sg4622x Rays Auto Patch Lot Evan Longoria 2008 Ud Rc /#399 Archer Cobb 50 150 2991926 W512 Tyrus Ty Cobb #3 Graded Fair 1.5 Hand Cut Detroit Tigers Hof2000 Ud Piece Of History 3000 Hit Club Ty Cobb Game Used Bat Relic Ty Cobb Goudey Gum Baseball Card Old2015 The Bar Cut Autograph Baseball Legends #134 Ty Cobb 1 Of 1 !! 1/1 Bgs 9.52015 Pen Pals Marcus Mariota Green-beckham David Cobb Rc Auto2012 National Treasures Ty Cobb Relic Card /991960 Fleer Baseball Cards # 3, 42, 47 Lot "cy Young, Babe Ruth, And Ty Cobb 1933 Goudey Ty Cobb. "unknown "E145-helmar #15 Ty Cobb Detroit Tigers HofSporting Life "t-size Series" - Tyrus Cobb & Shoeless Joe Jackson, A.l. Sluggers($1,000) Ty Cobb Lot Mini Printing Plate & 1909 T206 Green Rookie Rp Ty Cobb: 2015 Panini National Treasures Baseball 16box 4 Case Break2015 Panini Black Gold Nfl Card Lot Rookie Rc Kevin White David Cobb Johnson2015 National Treasures Pen Pals Marcus Mariota Rookie Autographed,dgb, And CobbSporting Life "t-size Series" - Tyrus Cobb, Detroit, A.l.T206-helmar #10 Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner; Detroit & Pittsburgh Multiple1909 T206 Ty Cobb, Ty Cobb Cigarettes Red Portrait Ty Cobb: 2015 Panini National Treasures Baseball 16box 4 Case Break1961#14 Fleer Ty Cobb Psa 8($30+) Ty Cobb Lot 1909 Tobacco Rp Piedmont, Sweet Caporal, Capital2015 Topps Museum Quad Jersey Rc Mariota/sankey/cobb/beckham 4/99Huge Vinage Player Lot Wagner Ruth Kaline Banks Cobb Duke Doerr Goslin Tris Cap 2015 Panini National Treasures David Cobb Rpa #84/99 Tennessee Titans2015 National Treasures Ty Cobb Jimmie Foxx Duel Bat Relic Philadelphia 25/49 Ty Cobb 1972 72 Kellogg's #15 Psa 9 Tigers Greats 2016 Panini Diamond Kings Memorable Feats (20) Card Sp Insert Set Clemente CobbDavid Cobb 2015 National Treasures Titans Rookie Patch Auto /99Ty Cobb 1989 Pacific Legends #117 Psa 10 * Super Hot Card*Huge Vinage Player Lot Lefty Paige Walter Hornsby Cobb Snider Wagner Babe Sisler2014 Topps Allen And Ginter Mini #44 Ty Cobb Pristine 102013 Pan Rookies N Stars Football Team Chemistry 10. Finley Cobb Dual Auto 18/255 Golden Legends Of Baseball Lot Babe Ruth Lou Gehrig Wagner Ty Cobb Johnson2015 Topps Supreme Dual Auto Patch Book # 4/15 Packers Nelson & Cobb2015 National Treasures David Cobb Rc Nfl Nike Tag Patch Auto 4/5Sporting Life Chewing Gum 4, #70 - Tyrus Cobb, Detroit, A.l.2015 Panini Contenders David Cobb Rookie Ink Rc Auto Ssp #23/25 Rare Titans (js)2015 Panini National Treasures David Cobb Jersey Patch Auto Rc 02/99Marcus Mariota/cobb/sankey/green-beckham 2015 Museum Collection Quad Relic Rc/991953 Brown And Bigelow Ty Cobb Tigers Nm C0181121950 Callahan Ty Cobb Psa 8 Beautiful Hall Of Famer! Centered And Sharp1910/53 100+superstars Ty Cobb,cy Young, Honus Wagner,mickey Mantle, Willie Mays1910 E98 Ty Cobb Card In Screw Down Holder Selling As ReprintTy Cobb Baseball Card Ace Of Hearts GradedTy Cobb 1976 76 Topps #346 Psa 8 Tigers Sporting Life "mini-cabinet" Series- Tyrus Cobb, Detroit, A.l.