#Hot Corner

That Ty Cobb movie? It's even worse than you thought.

Have you ever seen the movie Cobb? It's one of those things you should probably see, just so you can hold your own in a conversation with baseball nerds. But it's also really terrible, and of interest to Future Men largely because Roger Clemens (portraying Walter Johnson, ridiculously) carries on the long cinematic tradition of real baseball players in baseball movies.

Did I mention that it's really terrible? It's probably also largely untrue. I prefer truth in movees that are supposedly based on truth, but I don't make a big issue of such things. I'm a big boy with the Internet, and if I want the truth I know where to find it. Cobb just isn't a well-made film. Tommy Lee Jones looks way too old in the flashback baseball scenes, and Robert Wuhl ... well, you know, Robert Wuhl's a talented guy but he's really no actor. He was great in Bull Durham, but Tim Burton shouldn't have cast him in Batman and nobody else should have cast him in anything else. That I've seen, anyway. Acting's just not his thing.

Anyway, okay: It's not a good movie. Unfortunately, it's how a lot of people know Ty Cobb. The film was based on a book written by Al Stump, who ghosted Cobb's autobiography in the early 1960s, then wrote another, far more lurid book about Cobb in 1994: Cobb: The Life and Times of the Meanest Man Who Ever Played Baseball. I enjoyed that book, as Stump did spend some time with Cobb toward the end of his life, and Stump's an engaging writer.

Stump also seems to have been a thief, a forger, and a literary fabulist who invented a great deal of the material in the 1994 book ... and in the movie, too. A few years ago, a researcher named William R. Cobb -- not of close relation to Ty -- wrote an article for a SABR publication about Stump's crimes, and now Cobb has published a short, ultra-low-priced monograph detailing his research in greater depth (no electronic version, though, which is too bad).

It's damning, and I recommend the book to anyone who's seen the movie or is interested in the last bit of Ty Cobb's life.

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