Babe Ruth vs. Ty Cobb

By Clarence George on July 23, 2014
Babe Ruth vs. Ty Cobb
Cobb was a Jewish fighter out of Philly, a featherweight who fought from 1909 to 1922.

The next time somebody asks you what would have happened Ruth and Cobb had gone at it, you don’t need to speculate…

“Cobb is a prick. But he sure can hit. God Almighty, that man can hit.”—Babe Ruth

No, not that Babe Ruth. And not that Ty Cobb.

This Babe Ruth was a lightweight who fought out of Louisville, Kentucky, from 1922 to 1935, racking up an official record of 34 wins, five by knockout, 31 losses, 10 by knockout, and eight draws. As for newspaper decisions, he won 14, lost 11, and drew four. He fought some names, including Billy Petrolle (whom he outpointed), King Tut, Freddie Miller (four times), Petey Sarron, and Barney Ross. But he’s best remembered, if remembered he is, for his first fight, which he lost by newspaper decision (according to Paul Zabala of the Philadelphia Public Ledger and Jack Kincaid of the Inquirer) to Ty Cobb at the Ice Palace in Philadelphia on February 7, 1922.

Cobb (Samuel Kolb) was a Jewish fighter out of Philly, a featherweight who fought from 1909 to 1922 (his win over Ruth was his penultimate bout). His official record is one of eight wins, five by knockout, 12 losses, four by knockout, and four draws. But according to the newspapers, he won 46, lost 22, and drew 15. Like Ruth, he took on some names, including Young Britt (three times), Johnny Dundee (three times), and Joe Shugrue (twice). He also kayoed not a young Patsy Cline, but Young Patsy Kline. Brings whole new meaning to falling to pieces, don’t it?

So the next time somebody asks you what would have happened if the “Sultan of Swat” and the “Georgia Peach” had gone at it, you don’t need to speculate—you know.

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  1. Clarence George 06:41am, 07/25/2014

    Ha!  Well, not quite, Beaujack.  Winston’s real first name was Edward.  I don’t know where the Unknown came from.  I always liked him.  His record was certainly mixed, but he was admirably durable—more than 120 fights over the course of 17 years.

  2. beaujack. 05:19am, 07/25/2014

    Speaking of boxers names. Heavyweight fighter Unknown Winston
    was so forgotten, he DIDN’T have a name ! Poor chap…

  3. Eric 01:55pm, 07/23/2014

    I think I read somewhere that Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb almost did come to blows once. Cobb was a mental case and probably would have been a handful in a no holds barred scrap. Those Georgia goobers fight dirty, I know from experience. teehee. Only kidding, I have family in Georgia as well as Maryland. My instinct tells me “The Georgia Peach” takes it, but my heart and loyalty lies with fellow native Baltimoron, “The Bambino.”

    Patsy Cline? Now that there was a singer.

  4. Clarence George 12:20pm, 07/23/2014

    Ha!  I don’t socialize with him, GTC, just spot him on the street here and there.

  5. Clarence George 12:18pm, 07/23/2014

    Very interesting, GTC.  Anyway, until proven otherwise, I’ll assume that Ruth was of German ancestry.

    Benjamin Sipes…that’s a Dickensian villain’s name.

    My interest in baseball is extremely limited, but one of the better biographies I ever read (many years ago) is “Babe” by Robert W. Creamer.

  6. George Thomas Clark 12:14pm, 07/23/2014

    Irish - Spike, you may remember, is the savant who said it is impossible for blacks to be racist.  Evidently, he believes racism is genetically peculiar to whites.  He’s quite mistaken in that regard.

  7. George Thomas Clark 12:12pm, 07/23/2014

    CG - You clearly move in rarefied circles as Spike lords over a 9,000 square foot penthouse overlooking Central Park.

    Another of your neighbors, the writer and jazz expert Stanley Crouch said he thought it made sense that Ruth was part black because “Babe was cool.”

  8. Clarence George 12:05pm, 07/23/2014

    Nothing to apologize for, Chuck—I much appreciate the info.  Ah, but either way, “Babe Ruth” did indeed fight “Ty Cobb.”

    So, Ty Cobb and Spike Lee together again for the very first time, eh, Irish?  Well, they deserve each other.  I occasionally see Lee around town.  Ineffectual-looking sort of fellow, which perhaps goes a ways to explaining why he’s such a jerk.

  9. George Thomas Clark 11:53am, 07/23/2014

    If the Babe did have African blood it came from his father’s side of the family.  They looked like twins.  There’s a remarkable photo of Babe during Christmas Season early in his career, about 1916 or 1917, when he still needed a little cash, and he’s standing next to his father behind the bar during Christmas season.  About a year after that, his father was killed there in a bar fight with his brother in law.  Here’s a 1918 newspaper report:

    “Father of Babe Ruth Is Killed

    Baltimore, Aug. 25 - George H. Ruth, 45 years old, father of Babe Ruth, pitcher for the Red Sxos, died at the University Hospital early today as the result of a fractured skull, which he received in a fight with his wife’s brother, Benjamin H. Sipes.
    Sipes was arrested later and is being held pending the action of the coroner.
    According to the police, Sipes called at the home of Ruth, shortly before midnight Saturday and told the latter that he was not treating his sister right. Words soon followed and Sipes left the home.
    Sipes went over and stood in front of Ruth’s cafe’. Ruth came out and swing his fist, catching Sipes in the face. The blow staggered the man for a moment and as he recovered he was hit a second time by Ruth.
    Then, according to witnesses, Sipes struck his assailant in the face. Ruth collapsed and fell to the sidewalk, his head striking the curbing. He was carried into his house and first aid treatment was administered. When he didn’t respond he was rushed to the hospital, where he died. (Boston Post)”

    Google Images -….0…1ac.1.49.img..4.16.1012.Lcsu8Waupco#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=C9W2lnwInE5cBM:CpjjxSSot1N7pM;;800;542

  10. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 10:58am, 07/23/2014

    Clarence George-Jim Crow poster boy Cobb was convinced the Bambino had Black roots and so is Spike Lee with his skinny pinched nose….. citing Ruth’s broad nose and prodigious talent…. that according to Lee only an athlete with black heritage could possibly have.

  11. ch. 10:51am, 07/23/2014

    Clarence, I must inform you that the Babe Ruth that fought Ty Cobb in Philadelphia was a Philadelphia Italian whose real name was Anthony Scottino and most of the bouts listed in boxrec for “Babe Ruth” in the eastern part of the U.S belong to this man.  Joe Paglina of Louisville was also known as “Babe Ruth,” and many of the bouts listed in boxrec fought in the mid-west in Ruth’s record belong to this man.
    I apologize for disrupting your honest effort in reporting on this interesting story.
    Chuck Hasson
    asst. editor

  12. Clarence George 10:09am, 07/23/2014

    I, too, think Cobb would have taken Ruth—the good-natured “Bambino” just didn’t have the requisite killer instinct.

    King Tut was an impressive fighter—the boxer, not the pharaoh.

  13. George Thomas Clark 09:47am, 07/23/2014

    The baseball Ty Cobb, though not as large as the home-run Babe, was probably tougher and scrappier and in boxing probably would’ve taken Ruth much like windmilling Harry Greb handled many larger men. 

    I am presently unable to grant Babe at shot at Ruth since he must atone for his loss to the much smaller and quite ill Egyptian King Tut.  Their battle was chronicled in these pages.

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