During his nearly two months on the West Coast in the fall of 1920, Ty Cobb was almost universally greeted by large, enthusiastic, and adoring crowds.
The one exception was late in the tour, on Thanksgiving Day, at Sodality Park in San Jose, where he was roundly booed. The San Jose Evening News said:
“Of Ty Cobb let it be written in the chronicles of San Jose: He came and saw and acted like a big baby.”
In the fifth inning, Frank Juney, the San Jose pitcher, struck Cobb out. In the eighth inning, with his All-Stars losing, Cobb, according to The Oakland Tribune “(R)efused to leave the bench” to take his turn at bat. The paper said:
“At the start of the game, stated local players, Cobb was informed that Juney was an emery ball pitcher and was asked if the ball should be barred. ‘Anything would be alright’ he stated with a smile. The first time up he got a two-base hit but in his next effort he fanned and was panned by the crowd.”
During the game, he also drew jeers from the crowd when he misplayed a single into a four-base error in the sixth inning.
Cobb left the ballpark before the game was over. His All-Stars lost 7 to 2.
The Evening News wasn’t through:
“Your true hero must, after brief sulking, step out and slay hector and drag him around the walls of Troy two or three times. But Cobb didn’t have it in him to do it…(He) stuck out his under lip, was very properly booed by the fans, and then stalked out of the arena with the jeering fans standing up to watch the baby walk out of the nursery.”
“He saw that our local bushers were in grave danger of beating his team and he wanted to seize a chance to get out from under…The fans were cheated after Cobb did the baby rattle stunt, too. Instead of making a stand-up fight against our bushers and showing us what live wires could do, the Cobb aggregation put a comedian in the box and let the locals run away with the game. (Nick) Altrock, the comedian, was all right, too. He at least didn’t act like a sour prune left out to spoil after the historic rain that drenched the crop a couple of years ago. But the fans wanted to see a little baseball, and they were entitled to it.
“Ty Cobb, you acted like a quitter, like a bum sport, like a big baby, or like a commercial-minded calculator who couldn’t stand up and take a licking. Whichever thing it was, or all four, it’s too bad. The fans were out to enjoy you and admire you, and they couldn’t help hissing and booing you before you finished your performance. Try to do better next time, and be at least as full of sand and grit as some little Sunday school teacher who sticks to the job of teaching about loaves and fishes even though she has a splitting headache.
“You see, Ty Cobb, we Americans don’t mind if you commit murder or eat snails or commit little crimes like that; but we simply can’t tolerate a who doesn’t know how to be a good sport. The fans will still admire you, and will try to forgive you. But don’t do such a childish thing again.”
Not to be outdone, The San Jose Mercury suggested crookedness on top of cowardice:
“It is whispered that Ty’s manager had requested Juney to lay the ball down the center for the Detroit player in order to make the big fellow look good, but Juney could not see it that way, and was out to win for San Jose and was working all players, Ty Cobb included…(Cobb) is looked upon as the peer of all ball players and is termed the Georgia Peach…down in Georgia they don’t know the difference between peaches and lemons.”
Three days after the San Jose game, Cobb’s tour came to its scheduled end.