PDA

View Full Version : Off beat Studebaker History #1 (Studebaker and Ty Cobb)



Studebaker Wheel
08-11-2013, 12:19 AM
The Studebaker history I like best is that that hasn’t been discovered. Here is an odd-ball item with a loose Studebaker collection. A hand written letter (sold on ebay last month and typed here) by legendary baseball great Ty Cobb to a friend re his stock market investments. Cobb was arguably the greatest baseball player to ever put on a uniform (and if not he was in the top 5). Some of his current records that will probably never be broken: .366 career batting average; 12 batting titles, including 9 in a row from 1907 to 1915; 54 career steals of home; Batted over .400 three times. For more on this unusual personality see the Wikipedia site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ty_Cobb

Cobb played from 1905 thru 1928 most of that time with the Detroit Tigers. He was one of the highest paid athletes of his day and after retirement became a shrewd investor. His acumen in this field made him a very wealthy man (it is said he was once the largest private shareholders of Coca Cola stock in the world). This letter indicates that he may have had an “inside” to investing via his friendship with “Hayward.” I have no way of knowing who Hayward was but it makes me wonder if it is not too late to make an arrest for “insider trading?” In any event the letter makes it clear that Cobb held Studebaker stock in high regard and also begs the question as to whether "the Georgia Peach” may have himself owned a Studebaker car. Keep in mind this letter was written in 1936 about a year after Studebaker emerged from receivership when Cobb was 50 years old and had been out of baseball for eight years. I do have a nice photo of Babe Ruth posed with a Studebaker (a custom bodied 1925-26 Big Six) but none showing Cobb. In any event an interesting bit of Studebaker history that you will probably not get anywhere else.


TYRUS R. COBB
Box 394-D
Menlo Park, California


April 27, 1936


Dear Hayward:-

Your letters received upon my return from Del Monte for several days of golf. Got your telegram and I acted at once on what I had to sell or could, I should say, and this is what I want you to do at any time and have confidence to tip me off for it gives me a start on the pack. I had been dissatisfied with market for two weeks or more. Did not like its actions and had sold some of my stock I had for speculation, so when your wire came, I went to it. If you ever guess wrong, okay with me. I understand the market, but I asked for it and don’t fail me. I will wait concerning Crown Cork. I bought some more Studebaker today; think they said 10? or ¾, not sure. My total debit for all stocks held by me was only $20,000.00 or about, so you see I am very liquid, or was, of course. Now I owe nothing, so whatever you send me wont by like a fellow who had all his chips in and I am way ahead of the game and shooting their money, so please feel free to advise me of any news either way, sell or buy, that your source close to Fountain Head and you think is good. And if I get a cinch, I will tell you. If you sold your Studebaker, hope you got out okay. My hope is for several months pull, as they are making a good car and are going after the business strong, are reorganized and no question about good business this year.

I would like to see the article on tax bill you mentioned being in the N.Y. Sun.

Don’t forget, your letters will be destroyed. No one will see or ever know of any reference to “chief” or anything. Send telegrams collect and be explicit on main points. I mean decisive. Also sign your first or last name, either one.

I haven’t been into the city since I returned from several days’ absence. In fact, Mrs. Cobb and I got back only a couple of hours ago, so I don’t know what opinions are out here – and can’t tell you now.

We are all well as can be and believe me it’s beautiful out here at this time, flowers are wonderful.

Mrs. C and I had a fine time at Del Monte.

Let me hear from you. I am

As Ever, Ty

stude dude
08-11-2013, 01:00 AM
I saw the movie about his later years where he was played by Tommy Lee Jones. Great movie even though he was a mean, racist SOB!

Chris.

Studebaker Wheel
08-11-2013, 02:14 AM
Cobb had his detractors and I will not "go to bat" for him (no pun intended). He was however a product of his times and a fierce competitor. I would also warn against accepting anything that Hollywood puts out.

Chris Pile
08-11-2013, 06:13 AM
Interesting missive, Richard. Thanks for posting.

prescottstude
08-11-2013, 11:03 AM
Interesting missive, Richard. Thanks for posting.
Dick, Mr. Cobb's auto biography,(My Life in Baseball by Ty Cobb) relates that Mr. Cobb was hired by Studebaker to address the employees for a kind of pep talk..I do not remember the year , as it has been a long time ago that I read his book..However I do remember that Cobb lambasted the Studebaker employees by stating that as he walked into the Studebaker plant, he noticed that the parking lot was full of non Studebaker cars..His opening remarks were somewhat to the point stating that how the hell can you expect people to purchase a Studebaker, when the parking lot was full of other brands...if anything , Mr.Cobb was was a blunt speaker and ball player..legend has it that he used to sharpen the metal spikes on his baseball shoes so that when he stole bases, the 2nd baseman or shortstop would be a little concerned trying to tag him out...( remember steel baseball spikes !!) thanks Dick ....Todd

Pat Dilling
08-11-2013, 12:10 PM
According to what I have read, Studebaker Corporation was always generous with dividends, even when it was operating at a loss. I can understand why investors were fond of them. Interesting letter, thanks for sharing.

Studebaker Wheel
08-11-2013, 03:28 PM
Dick, Mr. Cobb's auto biography,(My Life in Baseball by Ty Cobb) relates that Mr. Cobb was hired by Studebaker to address the employees for a kind of pep talk..I do not remember the year , as it has been a long time ago that I read his book..However I do remember that Cobb lambasted the Studebaker employees by stating that as he walked into the Studebaker plant, he noticed that the parking lot was full of non Studebaker cars..His opening remarks were somewhat to the point stating that how the hell can you expect people to purchase a Studebaker, when the parking lot was full of other brands...if anything , Mr.Cobb was was a blunt speaker and ball player..legend has it that he used to sharpen the metal spikes on his baseball shoes so that when he stole bases, the 2nd baseman or shortstop would be a little concerned trying to tag him out...( remember steel baseball spikes !!) thanks Dick ....Todd

That is interesting. Frequently news of this sort was carried in the dealer paper The Studebaker News and/or the employee publication. First I had heard of it. I will have to keep an eye out for that. He was right of course re his observation. I have photos back in the 20s and 30s of the employee parking lot and there are a lot of non-Studebakers. Hard to explain esp since employees got a generous discount on new cars.

studegary
08-11-2013, 05:23 PM
Do you know of the "Hayward" to whom that is addressed, Dick? :confused: Interesting letter. Thanks. BP

Richard's unedited post states; "I have no way of knowing who Hayward was..."

57pack
08-11-2013, 07:57 PM
Though Hollywood had painted Ty Cobb with a unflattering brush. One does have to admire the man for his baseball accume
and his post baseball career.
As for his observation of the brands of automobiles other than Studebakers in the employee parking lot was quite remarkable. Perhaps if Studebaker were more insistant on employee Studebaker ownership, it would indeed "look" better to a perspective Studebaker purchaser.
As an aside, a fellow college graduate of mine upon graduation was hired by GM Youngstown Ohio.
She drove a VW Karmen Ghia into the factory parking lot an was told she could only park it in the farthest parking lot on the plant grounds. Quite a hike as the parking lot is huge.
She purchased a Monte Carlo soon thereafter...

2moredoors
08-11-2013, 08:12 PM
.
She drove a VW Karmen Ghia into the factory parking lot an was told she could only park it in the farthest parking lot on the plant grounds. Quite a hike as the parking lot is huge.She purchased a Monte Carlo soon thereafter...
Seemed to be something GM made a practice of. My brother in law who was a superintendent at the GM plant in St.Catharines Ontario, told me they had a similar policy.

jclary
08-11-2013, 08:47 PM
When I was in sales, I once drove my Hawk to a Textron plant that was a long time account of mine. On this particular day, there was an open space next to the new plant manager's parking space. I was driving my '62 GT hawk. In the plant manager's parking space was an older '70's bright red Corvette. Before I got to the receptionist's window, the plant manager met me in the lobby. He wanted to look at my Hawk. We became instant friends. Before coming to this job, he had held a job as an engineer at a Ford plant. He told me he had kept the Corvette in a basement garage in his house and lived in fear the whole time he was employed at the Ford plant. He said that at that plant, it was a huge no-no for upper management to own anything but Ford products.

Until he got the plant manager position here in the south, he said he never drove the Vette in the daytime and never to work. I had several occasions where my car hobby helped me in my sales efforts. This was one of the best. Not that I ever got any special favors, but it seems like purchasing agents, engineers, and supervisory staff, were more attentive to a guy seen having lunch and spending a few minutes in their boss's office.:)

The thing about Studebaker employees not filling the parking lot with the vehicles they built was just one of a few disciplinary indicators of corporate failings. From the eclectic and almost irascible personalities of some of their former dealers, a tighter reign on dealer business practices might have helped. I may be talking out of turn here...but it is just my impression. Not that I have ever met a bad former dealer, but, to a man, they were all highly independent characters. (Especially a couple of my Uncles) Sort of like Clark's "herding cats" moniker...a difficult group to keep headed in the right direction.

Would you be more inclined to eat the food at a restaurant where you saw the employees eating the food they prepared...or one where they were eating the food from a nearby competitor? From the stories I've heard and the pictures I've seen, looks like Studebaker was reluctant to crack the whip on that issue.

studegary
08-12-2013, 12:22 PM
Chrysler was similar with parking. I knew someone with a mid-level job at a major Chrysler plant. If he drove a non-Chrysler product, he had to park far away. He bought a "beater" Chrysler product car just to commute to work so that he could park close. That didn't last long for him. After promotions, he got short term lease deals where they almost gave him new Chrysler products to drive.

Sam Ensley
08-12-2013, 01:44 PM
My oldest brother who was quite a character worked thirty-one years at the Chevrolet plant in Atlanta. He never drove anything except a Ford product. Fellow employees often chided him about driving a Ford to work at General Motors. His rote response was that he had to get to work on time every day. If they were persistent about not using a company product, his comeback was, "Hey, if I worked in a kotex factory, would I have to wear one?"

8E45E
08-12-2013, 01:59 PM
Would you be more inclined to eat the food at a restaurant where you saw the employees eating the food they prepared...or one where they were eating the food from a nearby competitor? From the stories I've heard and the pictures I've seen, looks like Studebaker was reluctant to crack the whip on that issue.

Things might not be what they appear. I know of restaurant owners who DO eat at a competitor's eating establishment and test out their level of service and evaluate it against their own, and see where they have to pull up their socks if necessary or add to their menu. In the automotive world, engineers do drive competitor's products to see if they can use some of their ideas and exceed their standards, etc.

Craig

j.byrd
08-12-2013, 02:39 PM
We got to buy our Avanti we had because the Buick dealership in Nashville, Tn. told their sales manager to "quit driving that old car" and furnished him a Riviera ! On another note, the fellow that was manager over the Sheffield, Alabama Ford Aluminum plant often drove his 57 Corvette that he had bought new to work and parked in the No. 1 spot as he said, "just to mess with the guys"... He had lots of FOMOCO vehicles, both American and foreign too, another later model Vette race car, another late model "driver" Vette, and said that he and most of the other "big shots" at Ford and Chevy were pals and did a lot of things they thought was fun to help keep the public arguing about which was best. They manufactured many parts at the Ford plant for GM. ( aluminum parts, as that was the specialty of the Sheffield plant.) All things, it seems, have some very interesting behind the scene stories !!! John