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    

2015 National Treasures #55 Ty Cobb Hof Jersey 1911 Career Year 3/10 TigersVintage 1920 's Ty Cobb Benjamin Candy Co. Box 3x7x9 " Rare " Ty Cobb 1909-11 American Caramel E90-1 #25 Psa 2.5 (bscfs)Ty Cobb 1909 T-206 PiedmontTy Cobb Gehringer Heilmann 2016 Flawless Baseball Triple Ruby Jersey Bat /20 !1920 W516 Ty Cobb Baseball Card Sgc 20 Fair 1.5 Antique Cards Detroit Tigers 1927 E210 York Caramel Ty Cobb Hof Tigers Sgc 10 Poor 1 Rare2016 Panini Diamond Kings Ty Cobb Mini Game Used Bat Relic #4/51910 Ty Cobb Tobacco Tin Plus T206 Ty Cobb Card As Shown Reproduction1913 Tom Barker Game Setbreak Ty Cobb Hof Detroit W/ CreaseTy Cobb Eddie Collins Jimmie Foxc 2016 Flawless Game Used Bat Card 5/5Vtg 1926 Sheet Music Bucky Boy Womens Baseball Walter Johnson Ty Cobb Babe RuthVintage 1920 's Ty Cobb Benjamin Candy Co. Wrapper 3x4 " Rare " 1926 W512 #3 Ty Cobb Hof Detroit Tigers Sgc AuthenticTy Cobb Signed Cut Hand Written Letter Autographed Jsa/bgs Authentic Auto2015 Topps Chrome David Cobb Red Refractor Rookie Auto #1/5 TitansTy Cobb, Charlie Gehringer, Harry Heilmann Jersey & Bat 2016 Flawless 11/202016 Diamond Kings Ty Cobb Game-used Bat Relic (# 2/5) Bronze Parallel TigersTy Cobb Signed Cut Hand Written Document Autographed Jsa/bgs Authentic Auto1926 W512 Hand Cut #3 Ty Cobb Hof Detroit Tigers Sgc 50 Vg/ex 41909 T-206 Ty Cobb Green Portrait "unknown" Card2009 Topps Sterling Pairs Booklet Ty Cobb / Honus Wagner Triple Bat Jersey 6/102016 Flawless Ty Cobb Gehringer Heilmann Tigers 3 Game Used Jersey Bat Relic /251961 Fleer #14 Ty Cobb Hof Detroit Psa 8 Nm-mtTy Cobb- 1961 Fleer- #14Ty Cobb 1909 Tobacco Card Auto Back (most Of These Old Ones Were Stuck Together)2015 Panini Flawless David Cobb Rookie Blue 3 Color Patch Auto Rc #/201960 Fleer Baseball Complete Set #1-79 Babe Ruth Ty Cobb Vg-ex To Nmt T-206 The Monster Sealed Set Of 524 Cards Hornsby CobbTy Cobb 1911 T205 Gold Border Baseball Card Selling As Reprint Ungraded Card1/1 Bgs 9.5 Gem 2015 Leaf Metal David Cobb Autographs Prismatic Gold Rc 10 AutoPsa 10 Gem Mt 1953 Brown & Bigelow Ty Cobb Queen Of Hearts1909 -11 T206 Ty Cobb Red Backround Sweet Caporal CardTy Cobb 1909 T206 Piedmont Baseball Card Selling As A Reprint Ungraded CardBabe Ruth/ty Cobb 1921 W551 Baseball Card Selling As A Reprint Ungraded/unauthenJimmy Foxx Signed Baseball Lot Ty Cobb Babe Ruth Warren Spahn Cards Read ListingTy Cobb 1909-11 T206 Red Portrait Baseball Card Selling As A Reprint Ungraded1911 T-205 Ty Cobb Polar Bear On Back Detroit "unknown"Ty Cobb 1916 M101-4 Sporting News Baseball Card Selling As A Reprint Ungraded 2016 Score Marcus Mariota Green-beckham Cobb Sankey Quad Logo Patch /10 TitansRuth Wagner Cobb Gehrig Mantle Signed Advertising Card Lot Read Listing Ty Cobb 2016 Flawless Diamond Encased Base Card 12/20Banty Red Borders "1911" Ty Cobb, Detroit, Banty Back, Pink Variation-only One!Sporting Life T-size Brown Border Series- Babe Ruth & Ty Cobb, A.l.Ty Cobb 2015 National Treasures Game-used Bat Card #d 06/992015 Triple Threads David Cobb Triple Patch Auto #/50 Tennessee TitansTy Cobb 1911 D301 Weber Bakery Baseball Card Selling As Reprint Ungraded CardTy Cobb 1909 T206 Green Portrait Baseball Card Selling As Reprint Ungraded CardTy Cobb 2016 Flawless Blue Sapphire Encased Base Card 3/101960 Fleer #42 Ty Cobb Hof Detroit Psa 8 Nm-mtSporting Life T-size Brown Border Series- Tyrus Cobb, Detroit, A.l.1909 T-206 Ty Cobb Green Portrait Sweet Caporal Back "unknown" Card1909 T206 Ty Cobb Baseball Card Detroit Tigers Collectible Read Listing 1907 Dietsche Post Card Reprint Set Detroit Tigers Cobb Jennings 15 Cards1973 Topps Set Break #471 Ty Cobb Ldr Nm-mt T23314 St221952 Bowman 1955 Bowman 1960 Topps Lot Wilie Mays Mickey Mantle Ty Cobb Lot1960 Fleer Ty Cobb Card #42 Vintage Very Nice Card2015 Panini Contenders Draft Autographs Rc Auto David Cobb Tennessee TitansLot (100) David Cobb 2015 All Rookies Titans Inserts Refractors 2015 Panini Flawless David Cobb 7/20 Progressions Signatures Auto Rc Blue