Life Lessons From Ty Cobb Quotes

Ty Cobb Athletics Portrait 1927
Credit: Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images

Ty Cobb, who played outfield from 1905 to 1928, was a record-setting hothead known for being a complete badass. We collected his greatest quotes to show what you can learn from this Major League legend.

“Baseball is a red-blooded sport for red-blooded men. It’s no pink tea, and mollycoddles had better stay out. It’s a struggle for supremacy, a survival of the fittest.”

Here, Mr. Cobb is driving home how competitive baseball is. Life is a lot like baseball, and it ain’t for the weak. You wanna get comfy and let the world spin as it may, then go right ahead. Otherwise, get tough, endure the struggle and excel to the top. (Any guy who uses the term “mollycoddles” knows how to make a point, especially if he seems capable of twisting your head off.)

“To get along with me, don’t increase my tension.”

In other words: “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” Much like the Incredible Hulk, Mr. Cobb had no time for bulls***. We feel the same way, every day. We can do without the stress of whatever drama people might bring to the table. The best way to handle it is by staying away from infuriating idiots. If they increase your tension, cut ‘em out!

“The base paths belonged to me, the runner. The rules gave me the right. I always went into a bag full speed, feet first. I had sharp spikes on my shoes. If the baseman stood where he had no business to be and got hurt, that was his fault.”

Confidence, plain and simple. It’s all you need when the other guy is giving you fits. The base path is your destiny, those sharp spikes are your mind and personal drive, and that baseman, well, let’s just say we feel bad for whoever decides to get in your way. Fight the clean fight, believe in who you are, and you’ll get to the next base while the other guy wonders how he ended up bloody.

“The great trouble with baseball today is that most of the players are in the game for the money and that’s it, not for the love of it, the excitement of it, the thrill of it.”

Money is a good thing. We won’t lie. However, it’s no substitute for passion. Do what you love to do, do it as best as you can, and everything will fall into place. That plan seemed to work out for Mr. Cobb.

“A ball bat is a wondrous weapon.”

With his bat, Mr. Cobb was empowered to shatter dreams, one nine-man roster at a time. Talent and patience: there are no other wondrous weapons. (For a more literal reading of that quote, you can bash skulls ’til Christmas with a baseball bat.)

“Every great batter works on the theory that the pitcher is more afraid of him than he is of the pitcher.”

Stand up to your foes. They will always try to intimidate you into a quivering puddle of fear. That’s not the man you are. If anything, THEY should be afraid of YOU. Don’t be a bully, but don’t let the other guy rent space in your head like it’s been listed on Craigslist. You’re in control. You’re in charge. You’re the landlord.

“When I began playing the game, baseball was about as gentlemanly as a kick in the crotch.”

Life ain’t polite. Never was, never will be. We all have to start somewhere and when we do, it can feel like a gigantic foot’s been wound all the way back and swiftly unloaded into our testicles. Stay strong. Nobody cut Mr. Cobb any slack, but he won 12 batting titles, has the record for most times stealing home and the highest-ever batting average. He was also an MVP. You can be, too.

“Don’t come home a failure.”

Just because you lost doesn’t mean you failed. Quitting or giving up or never trying at all is failing. If you run away, you’ll forevermore lose sleep at night knowing that you didn’t puff up your chest at a challenge. Mr. Cobb was the nastiest prick Major League Baseball has ever seen. But the man won. He threw himself so hard into the game that by the time it was done with him, he was a Hall of Famer. Do the same, whatever your game.

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RG Daniels (@RGDaniels) is a comedian and writer in Brooklyn, NY.