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 Piedmont Ty Cobb Bat On Shoulder Psa 4Fine 1929 D&m Draper Maynard Baseball Catalog In Orig. Envelope Ruth Cobb GehrigT206 Ty Cobb Bat On Shoulder Detroit Psa 4 Piedmont Back Well Centered1911 T205 Gold Border Ty Cobb Psa 12004 Topps Tribute Ty Cobb Game-used Bat Relic #tr-tcb Detroit Tigers HofT201 Sam Crawford/ty Cobb Psa 4 Vg-ex1911 T3 Turkey Red Cabinets #9 Ty Cobb (checklist Back) Psa 22014 Topps Triple Threads Baseball Ty Cobb Jumbo Bat Relic Sepia 11/27 Rare!!!1961 Golden Press Complete Set 33 Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Gehrig, Foxx, Dimaggio2014 Topps Triple Threads Ty Cobb 10x Bat Relic 36/36 Ebay 1/1 Tigers Wow Sp Hot1914 Ty Cobb & Detroit Vs Buffalo Bisons Exhibition Baseball, Score Cd, ProgramPsa 1 Ty Cobb 1933 Goudey Sport Kings #1 Card In Set Rare Hof Detroit TigersTy Cobb Handwritten Check 1954 Psa/dna Certified Tigers "palo Alto" Not Signed2014 Triple Threads Triple Auto Relic Gold Evan Longoria, M. Moore, Cobb Auto /9Ty Cobb Photo From His Personal Scrapbook Rare Baseball Collectible Detroit 2012 National Treasures Triple Crown Winners Ty Cobb Bat 09/99Vintage, Original, Spectacular Ty Cobb 40 T.c. L.s. H & B Full Size Baseball BatR319-helmar Big League #93 Ty Cobb Detroit Tigers Hof2014 Triple Threads Ty Cobb Legends Bat Relic /36 Detroit Tigers2014 Topps Triple Threads Evan Longoria/matt Moore/cobb Triple Jersey Auto #1/27Packers Lacy, Cobb Style New Un-used, Worn Game Cleats Under Armor Size 11.5Alex Cobb Triple Threads Future Phenoms Rookie Auto /991926 W512 #3 Ty Cobb Hand Cut Psa Authentic14 Mlb 1/1 Auto Jersey Card Lot Hamilton Cobb Chapman Tulowizki Braun PedroiaTy Cobb 2014 Topps Triple Threads Printing Plate Magenta 1/1 TigersTy Cobb Game Used Bat 2003 Topps Tribute Detroit Tigers Vintage Baseball CardT206 Sam Crawford With Bat Sgc 60 5 Sc350 F30 Tigers Hofer Psa 5 Cobb Team MateTy Cobb Cut Signature On 3x5 Sgc Authentic Jsa Authentic James SpenceE145-helmar #15 Ty Cobb Detroit Tigers HofBox 2010 Leaf Sports Icons Update 2 Cut Signatures Per Pack Cobb Ruth1909 E90 1 American Caramel Ty Cobb Reprint?1911 M116 Sporting Life Baseball Ty Cobb Tigers Hof Reprint?1915 Cracker Jack Shoeless Joe Jackson Ty Cobb Honus Wagner Mathewson1996 22kt Gold Danbury Mint Set Ty Cobb Lou Gehrig Babe Ruth Honus Wagner HofTy Cobb 1926-27 W512 #3 - Detroit Tigers - No Creases!!! Spectacular!!!1910's Ty Cobb Smiling Portrait Original PhotoTy Cobb Game Used Bat 30/752014 Triple Threads - Triple Jersey/bat - Tampa Bay Rays #12/27 - Cobb, Moore, +Helmar Brewing Al Team Sets '09-'11 Re-print W/ Ty Cobb Speaker Jackson (pwcc)2014 Triple Threads Matt Moore Evan Longoria Alex Cobb Triple Auto /27 RaysSporting Life T-size Series 2 - Tyrus Cobb, Detroit TigersCobb Mays Griffey Trout 2013 Topps Archives 1969 4 In 1 Stickers Psa 10 Gem MintT206 Reprint Lot Ty Cobb Cy Young Eddie Plank Christy Mathewson Nap LajoieFleer Baseball Famous Feats 22 Card Set Cy Young, Ty Cobb, Honus WagnerEvan Longoria Matt Moore Cobb Jersey Bat 2014 Topps Triple Threads 21/27 Rare SpTy Cobb & Honus Wagner T-206 Old Reprints 8 Card LotTy Cobb 1919-1921hand Cut Psa Authentic #43 1911 T3 Turkey Red Cabinets #9 Ty Cobb (checklist Back) Psa 22011-2014 Detroit Tigers Team Lot (590+ Cards)- Cabrera Verlander Scherzer Cobb Tribute To The Throne Ty Cobb Collectible Baseball Card Bat Slice Detroit Tigers18- 2014 Topps Triple Threads Base Lot Cobb Ryu Nolan Mcgwire Rice Clemens Etc Alex Cobb 2013 Topps Supreme Asia Stylings Rays Autograph /50 ! Sp Auto'13 Topps Chasing History Holofoil #ch-94 Ty Cobb2014 Topps Triple Threads Gold Ty Cobb Detroit Tigers 67/99Ty Cobb 2001 Classics Stadium Stars Tigers Game-used Stadium Seat PatchBabe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker And Many More Hof Cards In Old Cigar Box1973 Topps #471 Ty Cobb Nrmint Set BreakTy Cobb 1973 Topps #475 Detroit Tigers Vintage Baseball Card Nice Nrmt-mint$4000 Sports 1000 Card Collection Lot 40 Graded Cards Mays Mantle Cobb Ruth Psa1961 Golden Press Cobb, Mathewson, Simmons, Vance, Bender,mcgraw-psa 9 -superb!