I almost passed on picking this book up, as there are a ton of books on both Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth. I read the intro and some parts scattered through the book, and quickly knew I had to read it.
Tom Stanton does bring up a lot of well known information on both players. However, his discussion of those facts is relevant, and needed for the book. Any reader unfamiliar with the players and the details of their lives will appreciate their inclusion. Those familiar with the details will appreciate Stanton's context.
Stanton makes a case that Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth become friends after a rough professional rivalry. After they both retire, they agree to a friendly golf game after the famous first induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. During this time, Ty makes a comment about considering the Babe a friend.
At this point, Tom Stanton gives a great history of the rivalry between the two icons. He talks about how Ty is the established star in the game when Babe comes along. He gives a vivid account of their first on field match up as a an unremarkable Ruth of the Red Sox pitches to the Tiger's star.
Tom goes on to talk about Ruth's rise through baseball and his passing of Cobb in star power. Most knowledgeable of the game respected Cobb for his technical skills. The masses, however, were coming to the park to see Babe hit them out as he averaged smashing one over the fences about every other game. Even the fans in Detroit would cheer for Babe and applaud him when his team came to town.
The two have a very legitimate rivalry, trash talking each other at times, and throwing insults around the ballpark.
Cobb gets involved in an ugly gambling situation. He insists that he is innocent. Many of Ty's friends and even his rivals come to his defense, including Ruth. During this rough time in Cobb's life, Ruth has nothing but praise for Cobb's character.
The two legends eventually leave baseball and they seem to spend a lot of time playing golf. They decide to have a series of 3 golf matches against each other for charity.
I am not a golf person. I just don't get it. Still, Stanton does a great job of discussing the matches, the fans, and both player's attitudes. Reading about the two playing a very close, two out of three contest is a lot of fun, even for someone with no interest in the sport.
This book is a a fun read and a great resource. Tom lists all of the meetings between Cobb and Ruth by date in the back, mentioning how each player did. Even if you know everything about the two legends, you will find something new in this one.