During his 24-year career, Ty Cobb was an MVP, a Triple Crown-winner, and a 12-time batting champion and was elected in the inaugural ballot for the National Baseball Hall of Fame (along with Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth, Christy Mathewson, and Walter Johnson). As someone who retired from the game over 85 years ago, he is still the leader for career batting average; second in runs, hits, and triples; and a mainstay in dozens of other categories. However, when most people think of "The Georgia Peach", they're reminded of his reputation as a "dirty" player. It was said that he got so many of his steals because he would sharpen his metal cleats and "spike" the second basemen if they would try to tag him out. It's also said that he was rude, nasty, a racist, and hated by peers and the press alike.
As author Tim Hornbaker did for Charles Comiskey in Turning the Black Sox White, War on the Basepaths is an unbiased biography of one of the greatest players ever to grace a baseball diamond. Based on detailed research and analysis, Tim Hornbaker offers the full story of Cobb's life and career, some of which has been altered for almost a century. While he retired in 1928 and passed away in 1961, War on the Basepaths will show how Ty Cobb really was and place listeners in the box seats of his incredible life.
©2015 Tim Hornbaker (P)2015 Audible, Inc.
My two favorite topics are Baseball and Military History. But my favorite books of all time are Starship Troopers and Ready Player One.
I purposely waited to review this book until I had read both, War on the Basepaths: The Definitive Biography of Ty Cobb (Tim Hornbaker) and Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty (Charles Leerhsen). When purchasing, I couldn't decide between the two so I hope this review helps you to decide.
Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF): I thoroughly enjoyed 'War on the Basepaths,' (4 stars) which I read first, but 'A Terrible Beauty,' (5 Stars) has more detail and apparent research to counter some of the more colorful Cobb History. Both books counter the tainted Cobb legacy of a racist, jerk, and spiker.
Regarding both narrators: I listen at 3x speed and neither narrator appealed to me more than the other. If narration performance is important to you, I really can't help you decide. I gave both 4 stars for performance since I could clearly hear both without adjusting the speed.
Since I read 'War on the Basepaths' first, I almost felt like I didn't need to read the other, but I committed myself to it and this review. Despite both books being about 15 hours (1x speed) the biggest difference is focus of the book. As previously mentioned, 'Terrible Beauty' provides more context and theory to Cobb's upbringing, personality, motivations, and day-to-day life minutia. I felt that 'War' covered more baseball statistics but missed some key information that I got from 'Terrible Beauty' (e.g., circumstances around Ty's Father's death, post baseball life with 2nd wife, personal finances and wealth growth).
It was nice to listen to both books and I didn't feel like it was repetitive; in fact the juxtaposing of the two books helped inculcate me to Ty's life. Both books dispel myths of Ty's alleged racism (which by today's standard is Racism, but he grew up and lived in a different time (not excusable, but understandable)), his unpopularity with baseball contemporaries (see Field of Dreams quote), as well as the most enduring Cobb legacy as a spike sharpener and spiker of competition when sliding into base (until Rickey Henderson, Ty Cobb was considered the greatest base-stealer of all time even though two others had more stolen bases).
If you have time, read both. If not, read 'A Terrible Beauty.'
A well written account of the greatest player of all time. Records that will never be broken. A drive to play the game like no one before or since. And a troubled soul who probably suffered from chronic depression. This is the real Ty Cobb. This book will open your eyes to the real man instead of the over sensationalized version we have read about previously.
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