The New York Times has opened up its archives to free searching and while testing the new access I came across this Letter to the Editor writen by my Uncle Jack Deedy about an incident between Ty Cobb and Jack Barry (my great-uncle).
September 29, 1985
A DARK MEMORY OF TY COBB
To the Sports Editor:
Don Dunphy's fond memories of Ty Cobb (Mailbox, Sept. 15) contrast with those of our family. Our uncle was Jack Barry, shortstop of Connie Mack's $100,000 Philadelphia A's infield, and he carried on his left leg a long, ugly scar from a spiking by Cobb. He would show it to his wide-eyed nieces and nephews rather as a medal winner might show off an old war wound. I don't recall though that any of us thought it a badge of honor. It made us think darkly of Cobb.
As Uncle Jack told the story, it was late August 1912, and the Athletics and the Detroit Tigers were playing in Philadelphia's Shibe Park. Cobb was on first and called over to Barry that he was coming on the next pitch. He did, spikes high and sharp. The throw from the catcher to Barry nailed Cobb, but Cobb spiked Barry. Barry remembered that he felt no pain, but that as he trotted back to his position he felt his stocking soaking up. He knew it was blood. Barry played out the inning, fearing that if he took himself immediately out of the game he might have triggered a riot. I secretly thought that was a bit of histrionics until I read in your paper some weeks back how much Cobb was disliked in Philadelphia and how he was once roughed up by passengers in a trolley car. In any instance, Barry was out for the rest of the season, and Philadelphia lost the pennant to the Boston Red Sox.
To my uncle's credit, he never suggested that the spiking was other than accidental. In fact, when he told the story of the spiking, he would invariably accompany it with the story of an incident that took place years later in a Philadelphia hotel lobby.
Philadelphia Athletic stars of previous teams were invited back for an old-timers night. Barry was one of them, and so, too, was Cobb, who, of course, finished out his long career with two seasons with Philadelphia.
Barry was off to the side of the lobby with two or three friends, when Cobb sighted him, came over, threw his arm around Barry's shoulder and said to all within earshot, ''Gentlemen, this is one man I was sorry I spiked.''
Incidentally, 1912 - the year of the spiking incident - was the only season from 1910 through 1916 that Jack Barry was not with a pennant winner. During that stretch, he played in six World Series - four with Philadelphia and two with the Boston Red Sox - establishing a record for World Series participation that stood until the ascendancy of the New York Yankees.