given at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation
2. What Is the
Approval a Man Wants?
Tyrus Cobb was born in 1886 in the rural farm country of northern
Some years later the Cobb's moved to Royston, a town of about 500
where his father who was a teacher, established and became principal of
the local school. Later he bought a farm, started the Royston
a small weekly newspaper, won a seat in the state senate and became the
county's first school commissioner.
William Cobb had high hopes for his son - a career in
law or medicine
or as a military officer out of West Point. But though he considered
as possibilities Ty, wanted to play baseball. His father saw this as
kind of folly which would lead to a "pointless life." In his
of Ty Cobb, Charles C. Alexander writes:
Tyrus could find no way to please this man who
and frustrated him, but whom he nonetheless loved deeply.
Cobb himself said, "It was the sweetest thing in the world to be fully
accepted by my father." But I have learned from Aesthetic Realism when
we make our opinion of ourselves dependent on how a particular person
to us, not on how fair we are, we will have to be unsure of
whether we get that person's approval or not because that person is
used as a substitute for the world, not to honestly like it.
Ty Cobb wanted very much to prove himself to his father
and also to
himself. He felt he could do this on the baseball diamond. There is
in his autobiography:
I started playing baseball because I loved the
the matching of muscle and wits...I hungered for competition....My
need was to prove myself as a real man...[I wanted] the chance to
more than another school boy and son of Professor Cobb.
Men have not seen good will as powerful. The beating out of others has
looked more attractive and more what is called macho. Eli
once said in an Aesthetic Realism class:
The only person you should try to be better
than is the person
you are now. He is worth licking, showing up.
Cobb's whole life was badly affected by not knowing this. Shortly
his 18th birthday and the same week he was to sign a major league
with the Detroit Tigers, something tragic occurred in the Cobb family.
His father, while entering their house late at night through the
window, was shot and killed by his mother who thought he was a burglar.
What actually happened is unclear, and there was much speculation. Mr.
Cobb may have been seeking revenge on his wife who, as rumor had it,
seeing another man. The year before, his father, who had become more
of his son's playing baseball had sent him on his way with a, "Don't
home a failure!" Now when he felt he could really show his father he
got somewhere his father was no longer there. Cobb all his life was to
think of this terrible happening with deep bitterness, and I think he
it to back up his case that the world was a place you have to fight and
Siegel on Baseball -- & Ty Cobb"