“Cobbette” is a bit of a cheap pun, I will admit – a “corny” pun, even, if you’ll humour me further. Also, I should warn that you that it’s probably not in your desktop dictionary, and it’s certainly not going to get you any points on the Scrabble board. The esteemed scholar W I Kipedia doesn’t even recognize the term.Â It seems to have been invented by the Colonel, or one of his catering comrades, as a way of making kernels sound more amaizeing (enough with the word play, already).
However, it does neatly describe a new BaseballGB feature that I’ve been planning to get going for some time. Simply put, a “Cobbette” is a baseball “history snippet” with some link to Britain, strong or tenuous. They’re provided by Project Cobb (the Project for the Chronicling of British Baseball), which is a SABR Chartered Community.
If anyone has any ideas they want to suggest or even write up themselves, please share them in the comments below or contact me through this link.
To kick it off, and just to prove that tenuous is perfectly acceptable, I’ve got something from a man with a very special name.
Ty Cobb, according to the 26 July 1924 issue of the New York Times, was an advocate for baseball’s globalization and looked forward to the day when England would take up the game (we’d been playing it here since 1889, of course, but we’ll forgive him that). The Georgia Peach was quoted as saying that the “English are especially suited to it.” Unfortunately, he didn’t elaborate on his reasons for feeling this way, or at least if he did, the journalist wasn’t sufficiently enthralled to waste any characters on a telegram from Toronto, the city which Cobb’s Detroit Tigers were visiting at the time. Later in 1924, the New York Giants and Chicago White Sox would visit England, which suggests that Cobb’s comment had some kind of prompt behind it.
My favourite thing about the story is that only after reporting Cobb’s support for baseball in England did the journalist mention the little fact that Cobb had also that day confirmed his plans to retire from playing the game full time at the end of that season. Cobb said that he would “play a few odd games” after 1924. It is not surprising that a “few odd games” for one of the sport’s most famously fierce competitors actually worked out as 428 contests. And 525 hits. And 303 runs. Perhaps the journalist put the England quote above the “few odd games” announcement because it seemed less far-fetched.