May 28, 1984 12:00 PM

by Charles C. Alexander

Tyrus Raymond (The Georgia Peach) Cobb seemed capable of doing anything on a ballfield. Yet, as Alexander’s thoughtful biography points out, Cobb’s life was filled with controversy and sadness. In his rookie season of 1905, he learned that his beloved father had been killed by his mother. As a player he was driven, battling teammates, opponents and quite a few fans. He was also a bigot and possessed a cruel streak (in his early Detroit years, for example, he had to stay out of Ohio for a year and a half after knifing a black waiter in Cleveland). Alexander, an American historian, writes sympathetically about Cobb’s last years. Twice divorced, estranged from his four children, a multimillionaire dying of cancer, Cobb spent his final days in the agony of physical pain and loneliness. He confessed to an old friend, comedian Joe E. Brown, “I do think I would have done things different. And if I had, I would have had more friends.” When he died in 1961, only four ballplayers attended his burial. (Oxford University, $16.95)

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