Ty Cobb Signs With Philadelphia Athletics


On February 8, 1927 Ty Cobb signed a contract for $85,000 to play for the Philadelphia Athletics proving long ago there is no guarantee that a great player will play his entire career with one team. After 22 years with the Detroit Tigers, the man considered to be the greatest player of his time left them to join manager Connie Mack and one of his most hated rivals.

Cobb was 40 at the time and coming off of a 1926 season as player/manager in which he played in only 79 games. Most fans could not imagine the Tigers without Ty Cobb or the Philadelphia Athletics with him. However, rumors of a gambling scandal involving Cobb and Cleveland Indians player/manager Tris Speaker led to Cobb’s resignation as manager. After both men were exonerated Cobb was released by Detroit and was essentially a free agent.

After years of battling with the A’s on the field and being called one of the dirtiest players in the game by Mack, Cobb did what mattered most to him. He went for the money and signed with Philadelphia. As great a player as Ty Cobb was he was a businessman none the less.

Philadelphia Athletics fans proved to be forgiving and welcomed him with open arms. Despite being one of the most hated men in Philly while a Tiger, Cobb was given a standing ovation when introduced at a baseball writers meeting.

‘I’d battled and feuded with the A’s and their fans most of my career, needed police protection at Shibe Park and received a good dozen anonymous death threats there,’ said Cobb. Now he was one of them.

Despite his age and the fact he was no longer manager, Cobb had a very productive 1927 season and the Philadelphia Athletics did as well. Ty Cobb played in 133 games that season with 124 of those in the outfield. He batted .357 with 5 home runs and 93 runs batted in (RBI). He also finished in the top five of the American League with 22 stolen bases.

The Athletics finished the season with a record of 91-63 which was good for second place. Despite finishing 28 games above .500 Philadelphia still finished 19 games behind the famous ’27 Yankees of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

As for Cobb and his relationship with the Detroit fans he’d left behind it was more than cordial. When Ty Cobb returned to Tiger Stadium with the Philadelphia Athletics he was given a standing ovation. In a twist of irony, he became the first man to get 4,000 hits on July 18 in Detroit.

Despite his love of money, Cobb played the 1928 season at 2/3 his 1927 salary to help Mack with the payroll. Wanting to go out on his own terms, he retired after that season at age 42. After 24 years a ‘baseball tired’ Cobb walked away from the game he so loved.

And Ty Cobb walked away as a member of the Philadelphia Athletics not the Detroit Tigers, loyalties be damned.

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