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Did You Know?

Retro Columns

DID YOU KNOW? (first posted AUGUST, 2009)
Posted on: 10-20-2009

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caption:   MATTY McINTYRE<<

      Hot-tempered Tiger great Ty Cobb
was known for his battles with umpires,
opposing players, spectators,
groundskeepers and even a Detroit
butcher shop owner after Cobb's wife
Charlie complained about about what
she believed to be a spoiled order of
      Cobb battled teammates too,
including fistfights with pitcher Ed
Siever at a St. Louis train station in
1906 and catcher Boss Schmidt during
1907 spring training.
      Cobb was hazed unmercifully by
Tiger veterans during his first full big
league season of 1906.
      As a Southerner the "Georgia Peach"
was an outsider to the established Tigers
who were mostly of Irish or German ancestry and from the northeastern
      Because he had very little sense of humor, Cobb bristled at the cold-
shoulder treatment by vets who locked him out of team hotel showers
(there were none in the clubhouses in those days), nudged him away from
the batting cage during practice and even, in cowardly fashion, secretly
sawed in half Cobb's prized ash bats patiently lathed back home in Royston,
GA with the help of a boyhood friend whose father built coffins.
      A less determined man than Cobb would never have become a success
after a terrible 1906 when his mother was found not guilty in a jury trial
where she was charged with voluntary manslaughter in the killing of Cobb's
father and where Cobb survived a gruesome two-day unanesthetized removal
of his tonsils by a physician who soon after was committed to an insane asylum.
      These two incidents and the animosity of his Tiger teammates contributed
to Cobb's removal from the lineup from mid-July until early September including
a period of confinement at a Detroit sanitarium. His absence from play was
described only as "stomach trouble." However, it is believed the 19-year old
Cobb suffered both a physical and emotional collapse and underwent surgery
for an ulcer.
      Yet, Cobb returned from his mysterious ailment to play the last five weeks
of the 1906 season and ended up posting a .320-BA in 96 games, fifth best
among American League regulars.
      Whatever fulfillment Cobb may have felt by his recovery and fine '06 finish
was tempered by his fight with Siever on the next-to-last day of the season.
      Cobb went home sad, bitter and angry. Years later Cobb commented, "I was
just a mild-mannered Sunday School boy...I was sick at heart and disillusioned.
I'd dreamed of becoming part of the Detroit organization, and all I'd known, so
far, was jealousy and persecution."
      Still, Cobb used those feelings in 1907 to help drive himself to the first of Cobb's
12 batting championships (the first nine in a row) and the first of three consecutive
American League pennants for the Tigers.
      A chief reason for Cobb's determination were the haunting words his late father
had said to Tyrus when, against the elder's wishes, young Cobb had chosen pro
baseball over college. Prof. W.H. Cobb had begrudgingly sent his son off with some
traveling money and the challenging admonishment, "Don't come home a failure."
      While the resentment on the Tiger team continued in 1907, a change in managers,
Cobb's continued growth as a superstar player and an injury to Cobb's chief tormentor
saw the sixth place club of 1906 become a champion.
        DID YOU KNOW the Cobb/Siever fight was precipitated by a Tiger who feuded
with Cobb almost immediately upon Cobb's arrival in Detroit from Augusta, GA of
the Sally League?
      MATTY McINTYRE never threw a punch at Ty Cobb, but McIntyre was the self-
admitted ringleader of the anti-Cobb clique on the Tigers. In 1906 the baseball
publication SPORTING NEWS reported McIntyre, "owned up that he hated Cobb and
wouldn't play with him."
      Likely it was jealously and job insecurity which prompted McIntyre's feelings
for Cobb. While "team play" was what kept most early 1900s performers in the major
leagues, Cobb's reckless and initially undisciplined style was encouraged to develop
by Detroit management. The club was financially unsound and needed a gate attraction
to draw the bugs (fans) to tiny Bennett Park.   
      Six and a half years older than Cobb, McIntyre had a harder road to the big
leagues. McIntyre had failed to stick in a half season trial with the Philadelphia
Athletics in 1901. McIntyre bounced back to the minors with Newark in 1902
and Buffalo on 1903, both of the Eastern League.
      McIntyre's .342 average at Buffalo got him noticed and he was sent to Detroit
in an October, 1903 multi-player trade where all the others involved were of little
      A talented fielder, lead-off man and baserunner, McIntyre became the phenom
of Detroit's spring training in 1904. A Detroit newspaper account of McIntyre's
Tiger trial noted, "The sensation of the team, and the one man who stands head
and shoulders above anything taken from the minor league this year, is left fielder
McIntyre. He is developing into a grand baseball player in every department. He
seems to have the faculty of bunting and beating out his bunts, or of hitting the
ball to the farthest end of the lot. The general opinion in this city is that seems to
be that McIntyre, with one more year in the big league, will have Willie Keeler
skinned in every manner. On the bases he has shown wonderful speed and the same
is true of his fielding."
      Well, McIntyre never did rival HoFamer Wee Willie Keeler and just a year and a
half later Cobb was given the Tiger phenom crown, much to Matty's resentment.
        McIntyre blamed Cobb's cutting in front of him for McIntyre dropping a flyball
in September, 1905. From that moment on McIntyre distrusted Cobb for making
McIntyre look bad on the play.
      McIntyre was suspended during the 1906 by Tiger MGR Bill Armour for "indifferent
work" for refusing to go after balls hit between he and Cobb.
      On October 6, 1906, the next-to-last day of the season, the McIntyre/Cobb
problems cropped up again. When 1906 AL Bat Champ George Stone of the Browns sent
a sharp single past Tiger SStop Charley O'Leary in the B-7th of the first game of a
doubleheader, McIntyre and Cobb both went for the ball, then both stopped. While
McIntyre and Cobb yelled at each other, arguing whose responsibility the play was,
the ball rolled to the wall and Stone's single became a two-run homer.
      Starting pitcher Siever, a pal of McIntyre's, was outraged. Back in the dugout
Siever and Cobb almost came to blows. Teammates came between Cobb and Siever
in the clubhouse between games.
      Later at the St. Louis train station as the Tigers waited to board a ride to Chicago
for the season finale, Siever suddenly lunged at Cobb in an attempt to sucker-punch
Cobb with his left/pitching hand. Cobb blocked Siever's punch and countered with a
flooring righthand, then punched Siever several more times in the face while Siever was
down. Some witnesses claimed Cobb had also kicked the prone Siever in the head.
      Cobb rode to Chicago with a loaded pistol in his Pullman berth, staying awake
all night. Siever was too beaten up to don a uniform for the season-ender, a 6-1
Detroit win over the AL Champion White Sox where Cobb went 0-for-5 at the plate.         
      McIntyre skipped Spring Training, 1907 while playing semi-pro ball in Florida
in an attempt to force a trade, but Detroit turned down offered deals from Chicago
(AL), Boston (AL) and Washington which would have yielded little in return.
      In fact, after the Schmidt/Cobb fight (which former semi-pro boxer Schmidt won),
it was Cobb who almost was traded during the spring of 1907. An overture was made
to Cleveland who refused to send 1905 AL Bat Champ Elmer Flick to the Tigers in a
one-for-one swap. Talks with the New York Highlanders (Yankees) went nowhere.   
      Early in the 1907 season things got so bad that new Detroit MGR Hughie Jennings
had to put Cobb (usually a CFielder) in RField, McIntyre at his usual spot in LField and
slow-footed RFielder Sam Crawford in CField to separate Cobb from McIntyre.
      The McIntyre/Cobb feud cooled in part because McIntyre was sidelined for all but
20 games in 1907 due to a season-ending broken ankle.
      Back as starting LFielder in 1908, McIntyre led the AL with 105-R and 258 times on
base (168-H, a career-high 83-W & 7-HBP) with his Detroit-best average of .295 plus
career-highs of 24 doubles and 13 triples. He also led the AL with both 151 games played
in LField and 329 putouts. Had there been a "Comeback Player of the Year" award in
those days, McIntyre would have won it in '08.
      However, in 1909 a battle with appendicitis contributed to McIntyre losing his
starting job to Davy Jones (who'd replaced injured McIntyre in 1907) and the rest of
Matty's Tiger time was in a reserve role.
      When Detroit won three consecutive American League pennants in 1907--09,
McIntyre was only a contributor in his 1908 revival season before batting just
.222 in that year's World Series loss to the Chicago Cubs and he was 0-for-3 in the
1909 WS loss to Pittsburgh.
      Unhappy on the bench and slowed by lingering effects of his '07 ankle fracture,
McIntyre was energized by a January 12, 1911 transaction when Detroit sold him to
to the Chicago White Sox for a price estimated between $2000 and $3000. McIntyre
went on to register career-highs of 184-H, 52-RBI and a .323-BA for the White Sox
in 1911.
      The following year McIntyre played himself to the bench with a .167-BA in 49 games
and then went back to the minors, never to play again in the big leagues.
      In 1914 McIntyre played for Providence, batted .310 and a team led by the pitching
of Babe Ruth won the International League title.
        McIntyre returned to Detroit in 1917 to play for several local semi-pro clubs.
For a short time he was happy playing baseball in the Motor City, "more for the
pleasure which it could afford him than any baseball franchise could."
      After first contracting influenza, McIntyre was only 39 years old when he died
on April 2, 1920 at St. Mary's Hospital in Detroit of Bright's disease, a kidney ailment
now called nephritis.         
      One year later Cobb was in spring training at San Antonio, TX in his first year
as player-manager of the Tigers.



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