Episode 69— Chapter 78
Cobb started several games in the first-half of May, but he garnered only 4 hits in 30 at bats and his batting average plummeted to a woeful .207. Nevertheless, his fortunes in the field had greatly improved. Cobb made several circus catches and threw out two base runners trying for an extra base. Carpenter purposely inserted Cobb into the starting lineup on several occasions hoping to hasten his removal from the team; Cobb was the only player he’d ever managed, whom he wished to fail.
The first-half of May was a disaster for the Braves, as they lost eleven of the month’s first thirteen games. By mid-May, the Braves’ record stood at 15 wins and 22 losses, only two losses removed from last place in their division.
After being swept by the Royals in Kansas City, the Braves headed to Pittsburgh for a four-game series. With Cobb’s celebrity gone, he had fewer hostile encounters with teammates; his anemic offensive performance and lack of media interest no longer created envy among the veterans. Nevertheless, he was not exempt from their hijinks. Newspaper articles condemning Cobb were regularly taped to his locker, the unflattering remarks highlighted. On one occasion, his fielding glove was hijacked. Another time, he found his locker breached and molasses covering his street clothes. Cobb kept to himself during this period, feeling completely isolated from the team. He suspected who the conspirators were, but he lacked proof and recognized that the best response was to show no reaction at all.
When Savannah finally returned to the States, her hands were full working long hours with the Sport Report staff to ready her feature article for the coming edition. The travel, the games, the interviews, the research, the writing had exhausted her and she was relieved when the article finally appeared in print. The piece was littered with personal interest stories and photographs from Kansai. It had been a challenge organizing the stories and trying to meld it all into one cohesive piece. She had chronicled the fortunes of athletes in ten different events, as young as 35 and as old as 72. Two of the ten had ended up winning their events—one an archer, the other a table tennis whiz. The story didn’t have anywhere near the same impact that her centennial article on baseball had a month earlier, but editor Shields seemed pleased with the piece.
Savannah’s return to the States coincided with the beginning of another road trip for the Braves, so she knew that Cobb would not be in his Atlanta condominium. When she tried calling, she found his line busy. Feeling concerned, she placed a call to Calvin.
“Hey Calvin. It’s Savannah. I just returned from Japan. What an experience I met some fascinating people and have some great stories to tell. But I’m worried about Ty; I haven’t spoken to him in a couple of weeks. I fear something may be wrong. If you get a chance, I think it would do him a world of good if you could stop by and see him next time the Braves are in Atlanta. See you soon.”