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On This Day In Baseball With Ty Cobb

May 15, 1912

It was a

Wednesday, just like today, back on May 15, 1912.  A game was taking place between the Detroit Tigers and the New York Highlanders (who became the Yankees the next year), featuring one of the greatest hitters the game has ever seen, Tyrus Raymond Cobb.

While Cobb may have been one of the best hitters to put on a pair of spikes, he was equally known for his style of play which included arguing with umpires, sliding hard into bases with reported “sharpened spikes”, and numerous other incidents.

This game was set in New York City at Hilltop Park which was opened in 1903, hosting the Highlanders until October of 1912, sitting in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan.

On this particular Wednesday at Hilltop Park, Ty Cobb lunged into the stands and physically attacked one of the New York fans; a man by the name of Claude Lucker.

Apparently, Cobb was familiar with this fan, who he claimed in his memoirs, “had ridden me hard in past New York appearances.”

During the May 15 game, Cobb and Lucker reportedly exchanged insults and it go so bad after the second inning that it caused Cobb to stay in an area beyond center field rather than return to the dugout.

But the time came when it was Cobb’s turned to bat, so he had to return to the dugout to get ready for his plate appearance in the fourth inning.  Upon entering the dugout, Cobb shot off an insult at Lucker while Lucker continued to insult and taunt Cobb.

When asked by one of his teammates what he was going to do about the heckling fan, Ty Cobb leaped into the stands and went after Lucker, who was about 12 rows back.  Cobb persisted to knock Lucker down and began kicking and punching him.

Making matters worse, Claude Lucker was a man who had lost eight fingers due to an industrial accident and was limited in his ability to defend himself against Cobb’s attack.

Fans yelled to Cobb “He has no hands!”, but Cobb replied, “ I don’t care if he has no feet,” as he continued to punch and kick him until the two men were separated.

American League President, Ban Johnson happened to be in attendance for the game and witnessed the entire fiasco.  Needless to say, Cobb was ejected from the game and suspended from the league, however, he was reinstated on May 25 after an uproar and strike from Detroit players and a meeting with Ban Johnson to discuss the suspension.

Ty Cobb went on to play 16 more seasons, ending with a career .366 batting average over 24 season. Cobb was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936.

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