Originally created 12/24/99

Ty Jr. served as Dublin doctor

Charles Lombard Cobb had enough abuse from her famous baseball-playing husband, Ty Cobb, and first filed for divorce in 1930. She later held off, however, and gave the marriage another try.

But in 1931, times again got tough and she moved her children out of the Cobbs' 2425 William St. house, according to the 1932 city of Augusta directory, and into a house at 1122 Greene St., now a vacant lot.

The 1932 directory lists Mrs. Cobb, as well as "Cobb, Tyrus R. Jr., student," at the Greene Street address. It would be 1947, however, before Mrs. Cobb would go through with a divorce.

Ty Jr. attended Princeton University, where he played tennis and flunked out. He then attended Yale, where he captained the varsity tennis team. He eventually settled down and studied at the Medical College of South Carolina in Charleston and interned at University Hospital in Augusta.

One doctor who taught and remembered Ty Jr. in Augusta was Harry Pinson, who told me years ago, "He called his father every name in the book. I knew that his father had cut off his medical school financial aid."

Ty Jr. met Mary Frances Dunn of Daytona Beach, Fla., through mutual friends while on a fishing trip to the Florida coast, and they married June 13, 1942. Mrs. Cobb, who today is back living in Daytona Beach, recalls that she and her husband lived for a while on McDowell Street in Augusta while he was studying medicine here.

Further study with a doctor in Dublin, Ga., led Ty Jr. to setting up his own general practice office in Dublin, where he worked for nine years.

He and his wife had three children: Tyrus Raymond Cobb III, who would die in 1984 at the age of 42; Charlie Cobb, who today has a State Farm insurance agency in Port Orange, Fla., and who was named after his Augusta-born paternal grandmother; and a daughter, Peggy Cobb Schug, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., and comes to Augusta every spring for the Masters Tournament.

"Daddy didn't want to deliver any of us, even though he delivered many, many babies," Charlie Cobb said. "You know how superstitious some doctors are."

Mrs. Cobb remembers her 10 years of marriage to Ty Jr. as happy ones. Her husband enjoyed hunting and fishing and became a very respected doctor in town. They even were visited in Dublin by Ty Jr.'s retired father.

Mrs. Cobb, interviewed for this article, said of her husband, "He was not reluctant to talk about his father when people asked, but he did not like to dwell on it."

On April 13, 1951, Herschel became the first of Ty Sr.'s five children to die. The following year, Ty Jr. was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He was operated on without success at the Neurological Institute in New York City in March before his family moved him to Palo Alto, Calif., where he lived his final months in the home shared by his mother and sister Shirley Beckworth.

"We brought Ty Jr. to our home from New York, where he had been operated on," Ms. Beckworth later told me. "We knew Dublin was hot in the summertime, and that wouldn't be good for him to go back there. Ty looked the picture of health to the end, but he had cancer of the brain that ate at his memory. He could tell you something one minute and forget it the next.

"Mr. Cobb (Ty Sr.) came to see him," Mrs. Beckworth added. "One day, while I was there, Ty Jr. and Mr. Cobb were talking about dogs and hunting. I heard my father say, `I'll give you one of those.' Ty momentarily forgot my father was even there. He turned away and said, `Shirl, he will never give me anything.'

"T.R.C. was stunned. He went over to the window and looked out. Then he walked out of the room, and he never came back again. He couldn't have done that any more than he could have said he was sorry."

Ty Jr. died Sept. 9, 1952, at 42 and was entombed in a mausoleum with his brother Herschel at Alta Mesa Cemetery in Palo Alto, where also rest the remains of Tennessee Ernie Ford and Grateful Dead organist Ronald "Pigpen" McKernan.

Ty Sr.'s widow, Charlie, who never remarried, died Feb. 24, 1975, and was entombed with the two sons who had preceded her in death. Ty Sr. himself died at Atlanta's Emory University Hospital in 1961 at age 74 and was entombed in a mausoleum in Royston, Ga., a coast away from his former wife and sons.

Ty Jr.'s two living children, Peggy and Charlie, are eager to know what they can about their father and grandfather. Peggy was 4 and Charlie was 7 when their father died. But they also are disappointed that writers make few attempts to get the full story.

One of the worst cases that caused a lot of hurt came in 1989, when Peggy and her aunt Beverly McLaren (Ty's youngest daughter) went to see the Lee Blessing play Cobb, being staged in Atlanta.

"I talked with the director and this public relations man after the show, and they asked what I thought of it," Mrs. McLaren later said to me in a phone call. "I told them I had spent a miserable evening, that the show was miscast and that Lee Blessing didn't know any background at all of my father.

"I have no disillusionments about my father, but, by damn, I'm not going to sit still and let Lee Blessing push the junk of his play without some cry from me this is wrong."

Peggy Schug was brought to the point of tears by a mean remark in the play that the character of her grandfather supposedly says about her father, Ty Jr.

"I told Peggy that the remark was about Herschel and not her father," Mrs. McLaren said. "I also let her know that our father didn't want us to be mediocre. He had made something of his life through hard work and determination and wanted us to do the same."

It probably shouldn't surprise anyone to learn that the writers and producers for the Tommy Lee Jones movie Cobb, based on an error-filled book by sportswriter Al Stump, didn't bother to contact the Cobb family for its side of the story.

Mrs. Schug even made the effort to contact the production crew of the movie and visited a set of the film in Alabama. But director Ron Shelton never took up her offer for any consulting advice.

"When I didn't get invited to the New York premiere, I knew what direction they had taken with the movie," Mrs. Schug said. "People like them like to capitalize on the sensationalism and not bring out the good things like the hospital my grandfather funded in Royston and other good things he did."

Her brother Charlie, who has an American League All-Star Game gold pocket watch given to his famous grandfather, remembers spending one memorable week with Ty Sr. at his hunting lodge in Lake Tahoe, Nev.

"He was very kind to us grandchildren and took us out on his inboard boat," Mr. Cobb recalls.

But one of Mr. Cobb's favorite memories is not of his legendary ball-playing grandfather but of the father he barely knew who tried to give his children a lot more love than he himself got growing up.

"I don't care what time he came in from treating his patients or delivering babies -- sometimes 2 or 3 in the morning -- my father always would come into our bedrooms and give us a kiss," Charlie Cobb recalls. "I probably remember that more about him than anything else."

Reach Don Rhodes at (706) 823-3214 or ramblin@groupz.net.


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