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Early Ty Cobb Letters To Friend Detail Early Playing Days, Personal Life

When Ty Cobb was kicking off his baseball career, he penned several letters to friend Erwin Manley, on subjects from the games he played in to his relationships. With the letters comes a previously unknown photo of Cobb as a member of the Georgia Tourists.

Ty Cobb penned many letters to a childhood friend and teammate from 1904-07 that have recently been verified and will be available at auction on Aug. 20. (Editor's note: Auction date moved to Aug. 20 due to some software issues.)

The letters come from the Manley family, where Erwin Manley was a pitcher on the Georgia Tourists with a 17-year-old Ty Cobb, and the two became friends. The letters have resided in a trunk in a Georgia town for the past several decades. Along with the letters is a previously unknown photo of Cobb as a member of the Tourists. the letters begin just before Cobb's semi-pro career in 1904 and end in 1907 when he was with the Tigers.

This group of seven letters consists of 14 pages of handwritten baseball content from 1904 and one letter that dates to 1907. They show the progression of a boy trying to make the big leagues to a man who is looked on as a prize fighter. They are wonderfully personal with amazing and history altering baseball content. They have never been out of the family.

TyCobbletters

The letters begin 10 days prior to Ty Cobb’s professional debut. Included with a 1904 letter is the only known photo of Ty Cobb in a Georgia Tourists Uniform. Also included are two signed envelopes from 1904, one unsigned envelope from 1904 and one signed envelope from 1907. Also included is a letter of provenance from the heir of the Manley family where the letters descended in, a copy of the three-page letter from Wesley Fricks, National Ty Cobb Historian and a founder of the Ty Cobb Museum in Royston, Ga., and a letter of authenticity from Paul Royka, owner of Royka’s.

A 38-page hardcover catalog showing all the letters, envelopes and photo will also accompany the lot. The complete 38-page catalog showing all the letters and Wesley Fricks’ letter is available for viewing for free online by visiting the auctioneer’s website at www.ROYKAS.com. This will be presented as a single-lot auction. Starting bid is $40,000. Email paulroyka@roykas.com with any questions.

Letter details
The dates and descriptions of letters include:

Letter 1: Sunday, 1904 – Handwritten Letter in Ink from Tyrus Cobb in Anniston, Ala., to Erwin Manley, ht. 7 ½, wd. 6 inches, tear to top. Baseball content including three exhibitions games results, mentions Sam Edwards and Carlton Bussel. Asks about Royston boys and information on building depot. Mentions having toothache.

Letter 2: Monday, 1904 – Handwritten Letter in Ink from Tyrus Cobb in Anniston, Ala., to Erwin Manley, ht. 9 ½, wd. 6 inches, baseball content includes Stewart pitching, winning 3 out of 4 games, playing Bessermer and seeing Birmingham, Alabama.

Letter 3: Sunday, 1904 – Handwritten Letter in Ink from Tyrus Cobb in Anniston, Ala., to Erwin Manley, ht. 9 ½, wd. 6 inches, baseball content includes “would like to see Frank Lee in hell”, has signed contact, playing left field, mentions photo and girlfriend.

Letter 4: April 16, 1904 – Handwritten Letter in Ink from Tyrus Cobb in Augusta, Ga., to Erwin Manley with Signed Envelope, baseball content includes Strouthers pitching, Duham and Wild Bill Clark, mentions having boxing match with Sporting Editor, manager arriving in auto, Emory Bagwell. Also trying to find out who is chatting up his girlfriend in Royston, Ga.

Letter 5: April 25, 1904 – Handwritten Letter in Ink from Tyrus Cobb in Augusta, Ga., to Erwin Manley with Signed Envelope, ht. 8 ½, wd. 5 ½ inches, envelope ht. 3 ½, wd. 6 inches, baseball content includes manager treating him right, Roth as catcher, playing in Columbia and parade for team, Bussey on first base, Sprate on 3rd with Montgomery.

Letter 6: July 21, 1904 – Handwritten Letter in Pencil from Tyrus Cobb in New Decatur, Ala., to Erwin Manley with Envelope and Small Photo of Tyrus Cobb in Baseball Uniform, ht. 8, width 5 inches, envelope ht. 3 ½, wd. 6 inches, photo ht. 1 ½, width 2 inches. Baseball content includes playing at Sheffield, sending photo, making $65 per month, hitting .408 in Anniston and nearly .500 in Sheffield, Sheffield pitching, playing in Decatur and beating Chattanooga, describing boils and needing to go home to get well.

Letter 7: Saturday, April 20, 1907 – Handwritten Letter from Tyrus Cobb in Cleveland, Ohio, to Erwin Manley with Signed Envelope, ht. 9 ½, width 6 inches, baseball content includes “don’t like the notoriety of being a prize fighter”, needing money.

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