Talent may run in the family, but not all namesakes choose to follow in their family’s footsteps, even if a family member is legendary.
Baseball great Ty Cobb was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1936 for his baseball accomplishments, following his 24-year career split between the Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia A’s. Cobb had a .367 career batting average, 297 triples, 4,191 hits, 12 batting titles (including nine in a row), 2,245 runs and 892 stolen bases.
It would make sense that Cobb’s great-grandson, also named Ty Cobb, would have some of his great-grandfather’s talent in his blood, but Cobb made the decision last fall to showcase his athletic talents on the basketball court rather than the baseball diamond in college.
The 6-foot-5, 215-pound freshman at Occidental College in Los Angeles, Calif., was a left-handed pitcher and first baseman in high school, but decided this would be the first year that he wouldn’t play baseball.
“I get it all the time: ‘Why are you playing basketball?’ I played baseball through high school. This will be the first year I’ve ever not played,” Cobb told the Los Angeles Times. “I guess Occidental just caught me at the wrong time.
“I’m not going to play baseball here. It’s just not my love,” the 19-year-old said. “Basketball has always been my favorite sport.”
The Tigers forward, who dons the No. 40 on his jersey, has been improving thanks to his hard work on the court and has seen more minutes as a result this season.
“My only goal is for the team to win,” Cobb said in an interview with MLB.com. “I’m just out there to sit in with the team. I’m only a freshman this year, but I want to help my teammates win as many games as possible. Maybe in a few years, I will come to be a more prominent player, but it’s all about helping the team as best I can.”
One person on campus who wanted Cobb to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps was Occidental baseball coach Jason Hawkins, whose interest was first piqued when he heard through the grapevine that Cobb was enrolling at Occidental.
Though he was fully supportive of the younger Ty Cobb following his hoop dreams, Hawkins couldn’t hep but extend an invitation for him to throw a bullpen session with the Occidental baseball team, MLB.com reports.
Cobb accepted the coach’s invite, throwing off the pitching mound for the first time since he graduated from high school nearly a year ago. Hawkins was impressed with what he saw.
“I think he can help us,” Hawkins said. “I also think he can make some mechanical adjustments that might make him a legitimate arm in our conference.”
The plan currently is for Cobb to be in the dugout for the opening series of the baseball season, and then he could decide to officially join the team once basketball season is over.
“I’m a 6-foot-5 lefty,” Cobb told MLB.com. “I guess we’re always in demand.”
“Hopefully,” Hawkins added, “there’s a really good story that comes from this.”