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    

1909 T206 Ty Cobb Bat On Shoulder Psa-11921 Exhibits Ty Cobb Sgc 60 Ex 51933 Sport Kings #1 Ty Cobb Tigers Psa 4*1911 T201 Crawford / Ty Cobb Baseball Card Mecca Cigarettes* 1924 Willard's Chocolates Ty Cobb #39 Sgc 60 Ex 5Ty Cobb Cracker JackTy Cobb 34" Louisville Slugger 40 Tc Hillerich & Bradsby Baseball Bat Detroit 2015 Topps Chrome David Cobb Camo Sts Refractor Auto 09/99 Rc T206 Ty Cobb Hof Red Portrait Polar Bear Back Psa 2.5 David Cobb 2015 Topps Chrome 61/100 Auto Gold Sepia Refractor Rookie TitansTy Cobb Jumbo Bat Relic Card - 2010 Topps Triple Threads; No Reserve!Ty Cobb Classic 2014 #78/99 Lineups Gehringer,heilmann Game-used Bat JerseyTy Cobb 2014 Classics W/gehringer Heilmann Classic Lineups Triple Relic #d 17/992015 Topps Chrome David Cobb Sepia Refractor Rc On Card Auto /100 Titans1933 Sports Kings #1 Ty Cobb2012 Ty Cobb National Treasures Legends Triple Crown Jersey Book 5/10Ty Cobb 1909 Baseball Bat L@@k1920 W516-1 Ty Cobb Hof2015 Topps Chrome David Cobb Pink Bca Refractor Rc On Card Auto /75 TitansT205 Gold Border Setbreak Polar Bear Back Ty Cobb Hof Detroit Tigers Psa 5 Ex 2015 Inception Auto David Cobb Inscribed Hollywood #7/10 Gold TitansTy Cobb 1900's Color Baseball Card Vinatge Old And Antique Value$????free Ship1921 W551 Ty Cobb Ty Cobb ~ Danbury Mint All - Figurine ~ Limited Edition ~ Detroit Tigers Statue1933 Goudey Sport Kings Ty Cobb #1 Psa 6 Ex-mtHuge Vintage Card Lot / Ty Cobb / Cy Young / Honus Wagner Misprint / Rare2013 Topps Chasing History Car Chase Ty Cobb Bat Relic Card Detroit Tigers2015 Panini Playbook Auto Relic David Cobb 6 Card Lot 2 Booklet # Topps FinestDavid Cobb 2015 Topps Inception Rookie Auto Gold Ink Ssp/25! Very Rare!David Cobb 2015 Topps Inception Rookie Auto Gold Ink Ssp/25! Very Rare!Ty Cobb 1920 W516-1 #6 2010 Topps Sterling Ty Cobb Bat /10 Detroit Tigers($100) Ty Cobb T206 Red Tobacco Rp Vintage Player Graded Gem Mint 10David Cobb 2015 Panini Prizm Auto Rookie Violet Mosaic Card /50Danbury Mint 22k Gold Baseball Cards Set Of 50 In Binder Cobb Garvey Gehrig2015 Topps Inception David Cobb (4) Lot Rc On Card Auto Jersey Patch Titans SpNfl Nike Youth Cobb Jersey Xl Greenbay Packers 2015 Spectra David Cobb Rookie 3 Color Patch Auto 17/25Ty Cobb Old Gold Cigarettes Old Liberty Art Card W/1928 Dime 1 Of 5 Made2014 Topps Gypsy Queen Wood Mini 5/5 Ty Cobb Tigers1960 Fleer Baseball Greats Ty Cobb #42 Nrmt HoferCigarette Baseball Card...... Old Mill Cigarettes.... T206 Ty Cobb, DetroitSporting Life "t-size Series 2" - Tyrus Cobb, Philadelphia AthleticsDavid Cobb 2015 Topps Chrome 1976 Rookie Pulsar Refractor /50 Tennessee TitansDavid Cobb 2015 Topps Chrome On Card Rookie Autograph Tennessee Titans1961 Fleer #14 Ty Cobb Psa 6 Tigers *dsa13702015 Topps Triple Threads Alex Cobb Patch 7/91991 Tsn Conlon Collection Baseball Box A * Ruth * Cobb * Sealed2015 Playbook Triple Threats Marcus Mariota Green-beckham Cobb Rc Jersey /1992014 Topps Chrome Sp ~ 21- Card Blue Wave Refractor Lot ~ Cobb, Welker, Ertz2015 Topps Finest Football David Cobb 2-color Blue Refractor Patch Auto /1502015 Donruss Elite David Cobb AutographHelmar Imperial Cabinet #67 Ty Cobb And Sam Crawford Detroit Tigers HofPress Photo Ty Cobb Of The Detroit Tigers Outfield Fielding Pose2015 Panini Playbook 3 Player Triple Jersey Card Cobb, Beckham, Mariota Sn 19/501/1 Bgs 9.5 David Cobb 2015 Topps Inception Jumbo Titan Logo Patch Auto Rc Pop 1David Cobb 2015 Topps Chrome Football Rookie Rc Refractor Auto #136/1501961 Fleer #14 Ty Cobb Psa 5 Tigers *dsa13691961 Fleer Baseball #14 Ty Cobb - Ex/mt - Hof - Tigers2015 David Cobb Certified Rc Auto/3-color Jersey Relic *nice*sp Rookie Autograph