Early in the twentieth century, fate thrust a young Babe Ruth into the gleaming orbit of Ty Cobb. The resulting collision produced a dazzling explosion and a struggle of mythic magnitude. At stake was not just baseball dominance, but eternal glory and the very soul of a sport. For much of fourteen seasons, the Cobb-Ruth rivalry occupied both men and enthralled a generation of fans. Even their retirement from the ball diamond didn't extinguish it.
On the cusp of America's entry into World War II, a quarter century after they first met at Navin Field, Cobb and Ruth rekindled their long-simmering feud-this time on the golf course. Ty and Babe battled on the fairways of Long Island, New York; Newton, Massachusetts; and Grosse Ile, Michigan; in a series of charity matches that spawned national headlines and catapulted them once more into the spotlight.
Ty and The Babe is the story of their remarkable relationship. It is a tale of grand gestures and petty jealousies, superstition and egotism, spectacular feats and dirty tricks, mind games and athleticism, confrontations, conflagrations, good humor, growth, redemption, and, ultimately, friendship. Spanning several decades, Ty and The Babe conjures the rollicking cities of New York, Boston, and Detroit and the raucous world of baseball from 1915 to 1928, as it moved from the Deadball days of Cobb to the Lively Ball era of Ruth. It also visits the spring and summer of 1941, starting with the Masters Tournament at Augusta National, where Cobb formally challenged Ruth, and continuing with the golf showdown that saw both men employ secret weapons.
On these pages, author Tom Stanton challenges the stereotypes that have cast Cobb forever as a Satan and Ruth as a Santa Claus. Along the way, he brings to life a parade of memorable characters: Bobby Jones, Walter Hagen, Grantland Rice, Tris Speaker, Lou Gehrig, Will Rogers, Joe DiMaggio, a trick shot–shooting former fugitive, and a fifteen-year-old caddy with an impeccable golf lineage.
No other ball players dominated their time as formidably as Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth. Even today, many decades since either man walked this earth, they tower over the sport. Who was better? Who was the greatest? Those questions followed them throughout their baseball careers, into retirement, and onto the putting greens. That they linger yet is a testament to their talents and personalities.
Praise for the Writing of Tom Stanton:
"Ruth and Cobb come together as never before in this charming story of rivalry and friendship. Stanton, a keen storyteller, has written a book that surprises and delights."
-Jonathan Eig, author of Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig
"The wardrobe mistress of baseball history seems to have assigned the white hat to Babe Ruth and the black hat to Ty Cobb for all time. The Babe, the legendary Sultan of Swat, has become the patron saint of the sport, flamboyant and loud, larger than life, hail fellow well met, a character who hit mammoth home runs and wiped the runny noses of neighborhood urchins. Cobb has become the villain, foul mouthed and cantankerous, unliked and unloved by even his teammates. . . . Now Tom Stanton comes along to rearrange the roles in his terrific new book, Ty and The Babe, which chronicles the relationship between the two baseball icons. He takes off the hats and tells us about the real people. And it all is great fun."
-Leigh Montville, author of The Big Bam
"Wonderful! Ty and The Babe is rich, elegant, and powerful. Tom Stanton vividly brings back to life two rival sports icons in a rollicking tale filled with tension, humor, and warmth. It's fantastic."
-Ernie Harwell, Hall of Fame broadcaster
"Frankly, Ty and The Babe had me hooked from the opening page, a thoroughly absorbing tale that has all the charm and elements of an unforgettable film-the two greatest players from baseball's Golden Era, blood feuds, dueling rivals, brawling fans, mythologizing sportswriters and the consequences of a rapidly changing game . . . all capped off by a poignant golf match between a pair of fading titans. Tom Stanton has beautifully re-created the most romantic period of American sports, provided new and powerful insights into a pair of greatly misunderstood figures in Cobb and Ruth, and given baseball and golf fans everywhere something to cheer lustily about."
-James Dodson, author of Final Rounds and Ben Hogan: An American Life