given at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation
3. Eli Siegel
on Baseball -- Ty Cobb
A man has to see his relation to the whole world if he is to be
When we use something that we do well to be superior, not to see our
to other things, we will have to doubt ourselves even as we may excel.
This happened to me. I had seen baseball as in a special niche and I
play professionally for some years hoping to make it to the major
Mr. Siegel encouraged me to use baseball and my athletic skills to see
more meaning in the world and not use them to be separate and superior
to it, and through what I learned I am very grateful I was able to
my care for baseball in a way that made me prouder and more sure of
Aesthetic Realism states: "The world, art, and self explain each other:
each is the aesthetic oneness of opposites." When I learned this my
began to be integrated and whole in a way I thought I'd never feel.
in my education is a poem Eli Siegel wrote after receiving a document I
had written about the opposites in ice skating. In the poem, which is
in issue #1087 of The Right Of, Mr. Siegel shows sports are a
of liking the world. About baseball, there are these lines which I
I wish Ty Cobb could have studied Aesthetic Realism. He would have
that it was his desire to like the world and not his desire to
out other people that made him the great ballplayer he was.
|Playing baseball well is an observable sign
A skill of ours can be at one with a divine,
Great cause of this. What enabled us to field a ball?
What enabled us to run at all,
Let alone around four bases? It was the world of long ago
Become ourselves. Both art and science tell us so.
Here is this description of what he felt hitting...a
bat literally tingled in my hand. It gave off an electric impulse that
traveled through my body and told me I'd found the one endeavor that I
could do well."
I feel the place Cobb was most sure of himself was as a
a period of 24 years from 1905 - 1928, he lead the league in batting 13
times and compiled the highest lifetime batting average of any player,
The reason Cobb was such a great hitter was because of
the way he put
opposites together - assertion and yielding, mind and body, abandon and
precision, and opposites crucial in the idea of sureness - continuity
discontinuity. It was said that Cobb was "a man of many moods...in the
heights of optimism or the depths of despair." But as a hitter he was
A good hitter has to meet whatever the pitcher may throw and he has to
do it day after day. A pitched ball can curve, rise, drop, screw in,
up and down, come in very fast, medium or slow. Whatever the ball does
the batter must be ready to whip the bat around and hit it squarely. A
man wants to meet the diversity of reality squarely and not cower. He
to do this if he is to be confident. About how Ty Cobb played writes
...nobody before or since played as Cobb did.
of Cobb was something that had to be seen," said Hall of Famer George
"and to see him was to remember him forever" ... "Cobb had that
fire, that unbelievable drive." recalled Rube Bressler, "His
was fantastic. I never saw anyone like him."...Cobb's genius as ball
practically everybody agreed, was in his intelligence, "He was the
Fox of the diamond."
The alert, all-out way Cobb played, his daring and flare for the
on the base paths, catching his opponents off guard, was thrilling.
showed new possibilities in baseball. He added to the game and to the
of thousands of people who came to the ball park to see him play.
However, this ability to play so beautifully clashed with his fierce
to be the best, which often made him ruthless and mean. To get to the
safely was more important to him than the welfare of the opposing
Cobb had a reputation for "spiking" people while sliding, by using the
sharp steel spikes on the baseball shoes to slash at the arm or leg of
a fielder. In defense of himself he said:
I wanted a clear shot at the bag under the
rules, and I went
after it...In staking my claim people were bound to get hurt...
People did get hurt. Using "the rules" he tried to justify his ill will
and contempt for people. Throughout his life Cobb was constantly
with people, defending himself, as he saw it, from those who tried to
less of him. The following shows how intense this was in him. While it
is about himself as ballplayer it is also how he saw people as
I always went into action with every ounce of
is an adjective I won't quarrel with but never in 24 years did I do
low or underhanded...But I did retaliate...If any player took unfair
of me, my one thought was to strike back...put the fear of God in
went looking for him. And when I found him he usually regretted his
Wrote sports writer Fred Lieb, an acquaintance of Cobb for nearly 50
"(He was) recognized as a great player, a dynamo, a fighter; but he
warmth as a human being and anything approaching love for--even
of--other people." Mr. Siegel once said in a class:
Aesthetic Realism says the only things that can
you feel sure of yourself are knowledge and good will--wanting to have
a good effect on people.
Will Is a Oneness of Confidence and Self-Doubt"