CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 25, 1994 |
As a chilling dusk settled over a snowy Georgia graveyard on Christmas Eve, 1960, sportswriter Al Stump knelt in a marble mausoleum and watched as an aging Ty Cobb, probably the most acclaimed and despised baseball player of all time, confronted the ghosts of his past. "He put his hand on his father's crypt, began to weep and said, 'Do you want to pray?' " Stump, a Huntington Beach resident, remembered. "Well what could I do? So I got down on my knees and prayed.
December 7, 1994 |
Tyrus Raymond Cobb might have been the greatest baseball player who ever lived. No worse than second greatest, surely. You couldn't get him out. The greatest pitchers in the game tried. Walter Johnson, Ed Walsh, Chief Bender, they all fell short. Twelve times he won the batting championship, three times he batted better than .400 and .370 was a bad year for him. The leagues, the commissioners, even the law agencies couldn't set him down.
December 17, 1994
Despite Jim Murray's recent article on Ty Cobb, where he supports the alliance of Hollywood and journalism in the character assassination of arguably baseball's greatest player, I would like to offer one story in defense of this man. In August of 1956, when I was a 9-year-old boy in the San Francisco Bay Area, my friends found Ty Cobb's phone number listed in the Atherton phone book. We dialed the number and found the voice on the line kind and receptive. Mr. Cobb invited us to his house, greeted us at the door and gave us a tour of his Southern-style mansion.
January 26, 1996 |
I said goodbye Sunday to the greatest storyteller I ever met. For most of his 79 years, Al Stump was a master of telling the tale. He knew the rhythm of a good yarn, how to hit the beats, draw you in and deliver the payoff at the end. The late Huntington Beach resident practiced this delicate art in more than 2,000 magazine and newspaper articles, seven books and, most comfortably, across a table with cocktails. I knew Stump for only a year.
May 11, 1989 |
Once upon a time, there was this ballplayer and he was one of the best ever to play the game. He played with great intensity and verve, not to say abandon, and he got more hits than anyone else who ever played the game. You might say he sort of symbolized it. And then one day, rumors began to spread about him. He, of all people, had been betting on games, the whispers went. He was mixed up in some very bad company. All baseball was aghast--to say nothing of the rest of the country.
January 8, 1995 |
In my house is a framed photograph of me standing beside the great Ty Cobb. Actually, there are four of us teen-age hopefuls flanking Cobb--we in ragged baseball garb, the balding Cobb in slacks and a bowtie and a shirt rolled up to the elbows--and we are holding bats on our shoulders as he demonstrates his trademark batting grip: hands apart, squeezing tightly, making the bat seem like a truncheon. Beneath the picture there is scrawl, "To Paul Hemphill, From His Friend, Ty Cobb, 7/15/52."