Saturday: Actor aims to debunk myths about Ty Cobb


By Cristian Ponce | Special to the Almanac

Actor Norm Coleman will reenact baseball legend Ty Cobb, who lived in Atherton for many years, in a performance at 1 p.m. Saturday, July 11, at the San Mateo County History Museum in Redwood City.

In 1936, Mr. Cobb was among the first five players elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. During his career, he set many records, including hitting over .300 for 23 consecutive years, still the best in Major League Baseball history.

Mr. Coleman said he is out to debunk myths surrounding Ty Cobb that arose after a 1960 book portrayed him as a violent person and a racist, messages also conveyed in the 1994 film "Cobb" starring Tommy Lee Jones.

"He was so damn complicated and complex and the movie didn't help," Mr. Coleman said. "Anybody who has seen this movie comes away saying, 'My god that guy was a monster; he was a devil!' but he wasn't that way."

Mr. Coleman said he began reading up on Ty Cobb about 11 years ago and discovered a number of untrue statements and lies. "There's so much misinformation about Mr. Cobb out there," he said. "There's so many myths about him. Dirty ballplayer, fighting with everybody, fighting with his teammates, fighting with fans in the stands. He's not a saint, but he's not a total sinner. He's not the devil in spikes."

A Half Moon Bay resident, Mr. Coleman will give a 40-minute performance, followed by a question-and-answer session.

"I will be talking about Cobb growing up in Georgia, his early playing days with the Detroit Tigers and how he got there," Mr. Coleman said. "And I will talk about some of the people he knew. Obviously Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, and Shoeless Joe Jackson."

Mr. Coleman said he will explain what made Mr. Cobb such a student of the game of baseball and how he went on to make his fortune later in life.

"If you attend the show you may not leave loving Mr. Cobb, but you're going to learn a lot about the man and you're going to learn another side of the man that maybe you didn't know."

Mr. Coleman is a professional photographer who began acting at age 70 at the Coastal Repertory Theatre in Half Moon Bay and fell in love with the experience.

The reenactment will be free with the price of admission to the museum, which is $6 for adults and $4 for seniors and students. The reenactment will be held in Courtroom A of the museum, located at 2200 Broadway in Redwood City.

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