What became of the places/people featured in Ty and The Babe?
All five of Ty Cobb’s children are deceased. Two died before Cobb: Herschel, an executive at a Coca-Cola plant, of a heart attack in 1951, and Ty Junior, a doctor, of a cancerous brain tumor in 1952. Shirley Cobb Beckworth, the longtime owner of a Palo Alto bookstore, died in 1991, followed by her brother Jimmy in 1996 and sister Beverly Cobb McLaren in 1998. All of them, except for Shirley, had children. Cobb’s many grandchildren, most now middle-aged, live primarily on the coasts and in the South.
Known as the P.T. Barnum of golf, Corcoran remained a major figure in the sport throughout most of his life, serving as PGA tour manager from 1936 to 1947, helping organize the LPGA and directing it from 1949 to 1961. He played a key role in founding the Golf Writers Association of America and in launching the World Cup, and he managed the careers of Sam Snead, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, and Babe Zaharias. He died in 1977.
Cobb’s secret weapon at the Grosse Ile golf match was his caddy, fifteen-year-old Pete, who was the son of the course pro and grandson of noted golfer Wilfrid Reid. Pete grew up to become a high-ranking auto executive, eventually launching his own successful company, Motor Specialties. He died in 1999.
DiMaggio ended his Hall of Fame career in 1951 after thirteen seasons. In 1969, a gathering of baseball writers declared him the sport’s “greatest living player.”
Boston’s ballpark, Ruth’s home during his Red Sox years, stands yet – the oldest diamond in the major leagues and, arguably, the most cherished.
Fresh Meadow Country Club
The New York course hosted the second leg of the Cobb-Ruth golf match. In 1946, its original Queens layout was claimed by post-war development. But the club itself still exists. Officials bought the Lakeville club and renamed it Fresh Meadow.
Golden Rule Farm
The orphanage benefited from the Newton Cobb-Ruth golf match. Proceeds went toward relocating the farm after the building of a dam placed the property in a flood zone. Late in 1941, just months after the match, the new campus was nearly destroyed in a fire. But it was rebuilt and, after a merger, operates today in Tilton, NH, as the Spaulding Youth Center, offering residential treatment to children with autism and emotional and behavioral problems.
Grosse Ile Country Club
The private course, site of the deciding 1941 golf match, remains a central part of life on the Detroit River island.
The legendary golfer continued to live large after his 1939 retirement. In 1954, he settled in Traverse City, Michigan, on a large estate. Two years before his death, Hagen was honored at a 1967 testimonial dinner. “If it were not for you, Walter, this dinner would be downstairs in the pro shop and not in the ballroom,” said Arnold Palmer.
As a young broadcaster, Harwell covered his first Masters tournament in 1941 after gathering advice from noted journalist and Bobby Jones confidante O.B. “Pops” Keeler. A native of Georgia, Harwell developed into one of the most respected broadcasters in baseball history. Now retired, Harwell lives in Michigan with his wife, Lulu.
Though he retired from competitive golf in 1930, the gentlemanly Jones continued to play until 1948 when halted by a disease of the nervous system. Eventually, the ailment paralyzed his legs and put him in a wheelchair. He died in 1971.
As a young resident of the Golden Rule Farm, Spanky presented Cobb with the Bette Davis trophy after Ty won the Newton, MA, leg of the golf match. Spanky had been placed at the orphanage by his mother, who could no longer care for him after she lost her leg in an accident and was abandoned by her husband. In time, Spanky returned to the care of his mother and a second husband, who treated him well and helped raise him. In the 1970s, Ray “Spanky” Joslyn died in a car accident, killed by a drunk driver.
John “Mysterious” Montague
The former convict and trick-shot golfer never again approached the level of fame he attained in the late 1930s, but he continued to golf and gamble. Montague died in 1973. Leigh Montville is writing a book about him.
The Detroit ballpark, where Cobb spent twenty-two seasons, expanded over time and became Briggs Stadium and then Tiger Stadium. One of its features was a large plaque that adorned an exterior wall along Trumbull Avenue. It honored Ty Cobb as a “genius in spikes.” In 1999, the Detroit Tigers played their final game at Tiger Stadium. The ballpark still stands at Michigan and Trumbull avenues, though city officials hope to demolish it in 2007 or 2008.
Newton Commonwealth Club
Host of the first Cobb-Ruth golf match, the course evolved into Chestnut Hill Country Club before being purchased in the late 1970s by the city of Newton. It is now a public course.
During Ruth’s first three seasons in New York, the Yankees played their local games at the Polo Grounds, longtime home to the New York Giants. In the 1960s, the Mets played there for awhile as well. The park was demolished in 1964.
Babe’s second wife, Claire, lived almost three decades longer than Babe. She died in 1976. Her daughter Julia, whom Ruth adopted and raised as his own, lives in New Hampshire and Arizona and still makes occasional appearances on behalf of the Babe. Ruth’s daughter Dorothy, whom he fathered in 1920 in an extramarital affair and raised with Claire, died in 1989. The children and grandchildren of both Julia and Dorothy are scattered about the country.