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 T 206 Ty Cobb Portrait Tobacco Card Early Baseball Card1909 Philadelphia Caramel E95 Baseball Card Of Ty Cobb..bvg Poor 12002 Sp Legendary Cuts Ty Cobb Signature Autograph 1/22011 Panini Prime Cuts Ty Cobb 1/1 Auto Autograph Game Used Jersey Book Wow!!1910-11 T3 Turkey Red #9 Ty Cobb Hof Detroit Checklist Back Sgc 10 Poor 11909-11 T206 Old Mill Ty Cobb Bat Off Shoulder Sgc A (authentic) Hof Tigers AuthTy Cobb Signed Baseball. “1/15/52”. Signed In Green.1911 Piedmont T206 Ty Cobb Portrait Red Background Sgc 30 Good 2T206-helmar #10 Cobb, Ty; Wagner, Honus; Detroit & Pittsburgh Multiple1961 Golden Press Baseball Complete Set 33 Cards Babe Ruth Ty Cobb Joe Dimaggio2012 Ty Cobb Topps Triple Threads Bat Relic 15/27 Georgia Peach Ttfr-1 Tigers2012 National Treasures Nap Lajoie Ty Cobb Eddie Collons Triple Bat 14/25Ty Cobb Signed Autographed Oal Baseball Green Ink Signature David Cobb 2015 Upper Deck Football Sp Photo Variation Star Rookie Rc #249Sam Crawford/tyrus R. Cobb 1911 Mecca Double Folders T201 - Psa 31933 Sport Kings Ty Cobb Sgc 20Helmar Imperial Cabinet #66 Ty Cobb Detroit Tigers Hof2008 Ty Cobb Topps Sterling Bat Relic 7/10 Sterling Stardom 4189 Hits 4ss-642011 Ty Cobb Topps Tier One Bat Relic 216/399 Detroit Tigers Tsr 22 2013 Triple Threads Triple Auto Relic Moore Hellickson Cobb 04/18Ty Cobb Signed Autographed Oal Baseball Green Ink Signature 1960 Fleer Ty Cobb Detroit Tigers (bccg 9) #42 Rare2011 Bowman Sterling Autographed Dual Patch Of Packers Cobb / Green 34/35 !!!1970 Xograph Pretzels Set Babe Ruth Lou Gehrig Ty Cobb Cy Young Yankees Hof2011 Topps Variation Sp #200 Ty Cobb TigersBaseball Legends Card Game, 1991 Complete Set, Ruth Clemente, Cy Young, Ty Cobb!Danbury Mint Ty CobbTy Cobb Topps Hocus Focus Baseball Card #13 Of 19 K.1972 Kellogg's All Time Baseball Greats Set (15) ^ Lou Gehrig Babe Ruth Ty CobbT206 Reprint Set 500+ Cards (1988 Ccc) Wagner Cobb Mint Free Shipping2003 Ty Cobb Ud Sp Legendary Cuts Historic Swatches Gu Pants S/n 292/300 2014 Topps Tribute Ty Cobb Bat Relic 97/99Babe Ruth Ty Cobb Lou Gehrig Autographed Signed Oal Baseball + 1933 1934 Goudey1909 T206 Ty Cobb Sweet Caporal Back Red Portrait Please Read Must See!!Ty Cobb And Joe Jackson - Dixie Mint Baseball Gum Cabinet 4x6 Photo Card2015 Upper Deck David Cobb Star Rookie Variation Photo Sp #249 Minnesota Gophers1973 Topps All-time Lot: Babe Ruth #474, Ty Cobb #471 & #475 Lou Gehrig #472 2015 Leaf Ultimate Draft Football Number Autograph #n-dc1 David Cobb #/402015 Leaf Ultimate Draft David Cobb Rc Auto #ed 10/152009 Topps Sp Variation #66 Ty Cobb Detroit Tigers2012 National Treasures Ty Cobb League Leaders Bat 43/99 Detroit Tigers2015 Leaf Ultimate Draft Football Rushing Yard Auto Dc1 David Cobb 27/40Sporting Life Baseball Art Card * Chewing Gum * Cobb Steals Home1973 Topps (6) All Time Leaders Card Lot Cobb Aaron Gehrig Nm Nm/mtSporting Life Baseball's "top Stars" Nap Lajoie / Ty Cobb1973 Topps #471 Ty Cobb All-time Hits Leader Psa 82015 Leaf Metal Draft David Cobb Base Prismatic Auto Autograph 2015 Topps Museum Collection Base, Blue /99, Lot Of 8 Ruth Trout Ryan Cobb2010 Topps Ty Cobb Rare Short Print Variation Sp #650 Detroit Tigers1973 Topps #475 Ty Cobb All-time Batting LeaderSporting Life "t-size Red Border Series" #25, Tyrus Cobb, Detroit Tigers2015 Leaf Metal Football Draft Auto Lot (5) Coleman Brown Jones Cobb Thompson2013 Topps Ty Cobb #ch94 Baseball Card Error!!!! 1/1??? 2011 Bowman Sterling Dual Patch Of Packers Randal Cobb / Alex Green 09/15 !!!Alex Cobb Auto Red Ink Allen & Ginter 7/10 2013 Tampa Bay RaysPepsi United Oil Glass Ty Cobb Babe Ruth Lou Gerhig #1Upper Deck Century Legends Ty Cobb Gold Limited Edition 63/100 Very RareTy Cobb & Jackie Robinson Commemorative BaseballsSporting Life "t-size Series 2" - Tyrus Cobb, Detroit Tigers1961 Fleer Ty Cobb Detroit Tigers #14 Baseball Card