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    

1928 Ty Cobb Retirement From Baseball Booklet..original, Complete, Very Rare!!!!Lot Of 7 M101-2 Sporting News Supplements 1909-13 Incl. Honus Wagner & Ty Cobb 1914 T213 Coupon Cigarettes Type 2 Ty Cobb Bat Off Shoulder Sgc 10 2015 Immaculate Ty Cobb / Frank Chance Dual Gu Bat Relic 11/15 Sp Rare Hof2015 Inception Rc Rookie Auto Gold Inscription Hollywood David Cobb Titans 4/101912 T202 Hassan Triple Folders - Ty Cobb Steals Third - Stovall/austin-bvg 4.5 2015 Panini Immaculate Quad Jersey Bat Babe Ruth Ty Cobb Clemente Lou Gehrig /10Low-grade Hof Lot Mays Musial Koufax Rose Kaline Gibson Aaron Cobb Mathews Santo1920's Baseball "the Knack Of Batting" Louisville Sluggers - Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb!Ty Cobb 2003 Topps Tribute Authentic Game Used Bat Baseball Card Detroit Tigers!2015 Inception David Cobb Rookie Auto Patch /1252015 Panini Immaculate Ty Cobb Frank Chance Dual Bat Relic Ssp David Cobb 2015 Upper Deck Inscriptions Red Auto Autograph Rookie Rc Titans /1492015 Certified David Cobb Titans Mirror Red Patch Auto Autograph Rc 59/75Ars Longa: Pilgrims: Ty Cobb, Detroit Tigers, Hof 1936Ty Cobb 1 Ounce Limited Edition # 300 Pure Silver CoinOriginal 1913 National Game Ty Cobb - Runner Sliding, Umpire Behind Psa Ex-mt 6Mickey Mantle Hr #238 *8/9/1958 Yankees Old Timers Day Stub - Cobb Helps MantleTopps Bunt Vintage Ty Cobb Tigers (299)2015 Panini Certified David Cobb 3clr Rc Patch Auto /2991921 Ty Cobb W551 Psa Authentic Hand Cut Detroit American LeagueDavid Cobb Rc Auto 2015 Bowman Chrome Rookie Autograph Refractor2015 Topps David Cobb Rookie 1976 On-card Auto Sp #/200 Tennessee Titans David Cobb 2015 Topps Football 1963 Mini Auto 181/200 Sp Rc Autograph2015 Upper Deck David Cobb Auto Rc1909 Colgan Chip (e254) Ty Cobb ~detroit Tigers~ Repaired Read Description Helmar Die-cut #30 Cobb, Enemies Killian, Schmidt, Mcintyre Detroit Tigers HofHelmar Our Guy #40 Ty Cobb Detroit Tigers Hof2 Different T206 Baseball Card Posters W Honus Wagner Ty Cobb 1909 T206 Ty Cobb Portrait Red Card Psa Ex 5 "piedmont Back"Ty Cobb Signed Display W/4 Hand Written Words From Letter Babe Ruth Jsa Loa Coa1920's Hand Cut Strip Card Of Ty Cobb - Detroit Tigers - Hof1913 -baseball- Outing Bound Sports Magazine Book - Ty Cobb/walter Johnson/tris+2015 Topps Inception Football David Cobb Rookie Patch /125David Cobb 2015 Topps Football Rookie Auto Patch 41/50 Autograph Jersey1961 Old Timer's Magazine Baseball Photo Album Vol 1 Ruth, Gehrig, Anson, Cobb +($100) Ty Cobb Vintage Player Tribute Refractor Graded 102015 Bowman Chrome Rooke Autograph Refractor #rcra-dc David Cobb Rc Auto#475 Ty Cobb, All Time Batting Leader - 1973 Topps Set Break - Tigers Nmmt2015 Topps Inception David Cobb Rookie Autograph #'d 10/99 Titans!2015 Upper Deck Inscriptions David Cobb *silver* Rookie/rc Auto #dc2015 Panini Certified Football Rookie Card Jesey Patch David Cobb #02/25Ty Cobb 1960 Fleer Baseball Card #42 Psa 7 Graded HofDavid Cobb 2015 Topps Football Rc Super Rookie Autograph Auto #'d /200 Titans2015 Topps Bunt Digital Card Ty Cobb Legendary FlannelDavid Cobb 2015 Topps Football Rookie Premiere Auto 130/150 Rpa Rc AutographDavid Cobb 2015 Inception 3 Case Grab Bag 24x Index Card Break Rc Auto4 1969 Ajman Stamps Stan Musial, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Sisler Cardinals Tigers 2015 Certified Lot (5) Rc Jerseys Bryce Petty David Cobb Hundley Ajayi Parker2015 Topps Series 2 Highlight Of The Year (30) Card Insert Set Clemente, Cobb ++2011 Topps Kimball Champions Lot Of 52 Mini Cards! Cobb-yaz-strasburg-koufax++$$2015 Topps Tier One Legends Ty Cobb 5/5Pete Rose Signed Ball Inscribed Move Over "cobb" Authentic1973 Topps Set Break #475 Ty Cobb Ldr Nm-mt K30900Ty Cobb 1961 Golden Press #25 Psa 5.5 Tigers HofTy Cobb, Frank Baker, Zach Wheat 1961 Fleer #1 Psa 6 Hof2015 Upper Deck Inscriptions David Cobb Auto Autograph Football($340) Ty Cobb Lot Vintage Player T205 Tobacco Rp Gold Border Graded Lot2015 Certified David Cobb Auto Patch Rookie #d67/75David Cobb Rookie On Card Auto Topps Inception Tenessee Titans