I’m not certain whether baseball legend Ty Cobb liked country music, but he probably did since he grew up in rural Georgia.
I do know that he liked entertainment of all kinds and even once took the entire Detroit Tigers team to the Imperial Theatre to see one of his famous entertainer friends.
He also acted in a play in 1911 called The College Widow in the Grand Opera House then located at the northeast corner of Greene and Eighth streets. He played the part of a college football hero.
Woodrow Wilson, then governor-elect of New Jersey, happened to be in town visiting old friends and saw Cobb in the production.
And Cobb is considered the first athlete to star in a commercial motion picture. The movie made in 1916 was called Somewhere in Georgia but it actually was filmed in New York. He played a Georgia bank teller with a talent for playing baseball.
The 125th anniversary of his birth in the Narrows community near Cornelia, Ga., is this Sunday, Dec. 18.
To commemorate it, I’ll be signing copies of my first national book, Ty Cobb: Safe at Home, from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, at Cobb’s home in Augusta, 2425 Williams St., thanks to the home’s owner, Beverly Ford. It’s located about two blocks from the front main entrance of Augusta State University, just off Fleming Avenue.
This is one of the rare times that the home is being opened to the public. It was where Cobb lived for 20 years; where he and his wife, Charlie, reared their five children; where he hosted visits by his celebrity friends like golfer Bobby Jones and Coca-Cola chief Robert Woodruff; and where he celebrated his birthday annually.
And to commemorate the 125th anniversary of his birthday, the Georgia News Network this weekend is airing a 30-minute Georgia Focus program over 103 radio stations featuring yours truly talking about Cobb and my biography.
John Clark, affiliate relations director of the network, taped the interview earlier this year on the front porch of the Williams Street house.
It will air in Augusta over WEKL-FM 102.3, WBBQ-FM 104.3 and WIBL-FM 105.7 at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, and WKSP-FM 96.3, WSGF-AM 1340, WYNF-AM 1380 and WPRW-FM 107.7 at 7 a.m. Sunday.
It also will air locally over WPEH-AM 1420 and WPEH-FM 92.1 in Louisville at 7:30 p.m. Sunday; WXRS-FM 100.5 in Swainsboro at 9:15 a.m. Sunday; and in Thomson over WTWA-AM 1240 at 5:30 a.m. Saturday and WTHO-FM 101 at 6:30 a.m. Sunday.
So, if you get a chance, tune into the program and/or come see the inside of Ty Cobb’s Augusta home. You don’t even have to buy my book. You’ll be welcomed.
And maybe one day the movers and shakers of this area will wake up and honor Cobb. The only thing locally with his name on it is the Cobb House apartments at Greene and 10th streets. He built that structure as Augusta’s first modern apartment complex. Most people, however, don’t connect the apartments’ name to the baseball player’s because there is no sign telling you that.
It originally was called the Shirley Apartments and was named after his oldest daughter, which is why the name Shirley can be seen in stone over the 10th and Greene street entrances.
There are statues of Cobb in Atlanta and Detroit; a historic marker in Anniston, Ala., where he lived only a couple of months; a museum about his life in Royston, Ga.; and, of course, his plaque and other memorabilia in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
At the very least, there should be a Georgia Historical Commission marker in front of his Williams Street home. Come by Saturday and you’ll agree that it’s a very special place.