Kid Elberfeld's Influence - Ty Cobb


How Cobb Played the Game

Cobb avoiding a collision with New York shortstop Kid Elberfeld

Part 4: His Running Abilities

James Kossuth

By far Cobb's favorite baserunning practice was going from first to third on sacrifice bunts. He perfected this with the expert bunter Claude Rossman, who hit after Cobb in the Detroit lineup. On first, Cobb would send his own bunt sign to Rossman at bat, and then take off with the pitch. Rossman would place the ball down the third base line where the third baseman would field the ball and throw to first.
The shortstop was usually heading towards second to cover for the steal attempt and so the third baseman had to field the ball and then run back to cover his own base. Often Cobb beat either the throw or the third baseman or both (Often today the catcher or sometimes the pitcher covers third on such plays to prevent that from happening).
A consequence of Cobb's hell-bent baserunning style was repeated injuries to his legs, especially abrasions from sliding on rock-hard infields. Another problem with the scrapes and scratches on his legs was that Frank Navin, tightwad owner of the Tigers, often would not pay for Cobb's medical treatment when he needed it.