Baseball Legend Once Slapped Black Elevator Operator For Being “Uppity”
When Black Hotel Manager Intervened, Cobb Pulled Out Knife & Stabbed Him
Detroit Tigers outfield Ty Cobb was born in Narrows, Georgia in 1886.
Cobb set 90 Major League Baseball records during his career, which included:
Highest career batting average: (.367)
Most career batting titles: (12)
Most career hits: (4,191), which stood until 1985
Most career stolen bases: (892), which stood until 1977
In 1936, Cobb received the most votes of any player on the inaugural Baseball Hall of Fame ballot (222 out of a possible 226 votes).
Above all, Cobb claimed he played baseball to honor his father. Cobb explained “he never got to see me play … but I knew he was watching me, and I never let him down…”
Cobb is not only known for his athletic ability, but also his personal values.
On September 3, 1909 around 2 AM, Ty Cobb entered the Hotel Euclid in Cleveland, Ohio. Cobb was annoyed by the black elevator operator and slapped him for being “uppity”.
The black hotel manager, George Stansfield intervened and hit Cobb with a nightstick. Cobb pulled out a knife and stabbed him.
Stansfield filed criminal and civil charges Cobb and a warrant was put out for his arrest. The police waited to detain Cobb on the on the team train, but Cobb traveled through Canada to avoid arrest.
Eventually, Stansfield dropped the charges when Cobb agreed to pay him $100 and cover court costs.
Later, Cobb was asked about the alteraction and answered “Sure, I fought, I had to fight all my life just to survive. They were all against me. Tried every dirty trick to cut me down, but I beat the bastards and left them in the ditch.”
It wasn’t the last time Cobb was involved in racial conflict.
On May 15, 1912 during a game at Hilltop Park in New York, heckler Claude Lueker called Cobb a “half-nigger” (which wasn’t even true)
Cobb warned officials that if something wasn’t done about the man, there would be trouble. They did nothing, so Cobb took actions into his own hands.
He climbed into the stands and attacked Lueker, who it turns out was handicapped (he had lost all of one hand and three fingers on his other hand in an industrial accident).
When the audience shouted at Cobb to stop because the man had no hands, Cobb reportedly replied, “I don’t care if he got no feet!”
Later, Cobb defended his actions because Lueker was “reflecting on my mother’s color and morals.”
American League President Ban Johnson suspended Cobb indefinitely, but the rest of the Tigers claimed they would not play again until Cobb was reinstated. Johnson reduced Cobb’s suspension to 10 games with a $50 fine.
Jett & Jahn Media honors American Hero Ty Cobb for his willingness to stand up and defend the truth.
This article is part one of the “American Heroes” series: