Ty Cobb 1910 E98 Card, PSA Gem Mint 10

Manufactured in 1910, this Ty Cobb E98 Red card has remained perfectly preserved since, and is believed to be one of the most scarce and well-conditioned pre-war cards in circulation. Only two Ty Cobb E98 PSA Gem Mint 10’s are known to exist in the world.


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“I never saw anyone like Ty Cobb. The guy was superhuman.”

-Casey Stengel

Ty Cobb was a bully and a brawler who talked with his fists, but he was also the best player in the deadfall era, if not all time. His ferocious 22 seasons with the Detroit Tigers and two with the Philadelphia Athletics have been unmatched. When he retired in 1928 at the age of 42, Cobb owned 90-all-time records, and his 12 American League batting titles (nine in succession) and .367 career average still remain the gold standard. The three-time .400 hitter helped lead the Tigers to three straight pennants (1907-1909).


This card is grated a Gem-Mint 10 by PSA, sports collectible’s leading grading company.

Only two Ty Cobb E98 Gem Mint 10s exist in the world.

This card is part of the 1910 E98 “Set of 30,” a collection that contains 30 players from the early 20th Century, 17 of whom were elected to the Hall of Fame.

Each subject in the set is set against a background of four color variations: Blue, green, orange, and red. The back of the cards list all 30 players in the set.

Created by an anonymous manufacturer in the early 20th Century, the E98s were made in the style of “caramel cards,” which were packaged with candy and sold mostly to children.

Interest in the E98 set skyrocketed after the famous 2012 “Black Swamp Find,” in which 700 caramel cards were discovered in an attic in Ohio. A family was cleaning out the house of an aunt who had recently died. In the attic they came across artifacts from the turn of last century. Beneath a Victorian doll house inside they spotted a dusty green cardboard box. Inside were a horde of cards wrapped in twine. A local meat market owner kept them as fresh as the day they were issued.


The PWCC Top 100 index, an index that tracks the price movement of the top 100 most valuable trading cards sold at auction has seen the value of the Cobb card rise 264% since January 2008.

In 2016, Cobb’s iconic 1910 T206 tobacco card PSA 8 (near mint-mint) with a green background sold for $155,350 in a Heritage Auction. 

In 2020, a green PSA 8 Cobb commanded $437,500 in a Christie’s auction.


December 18, 1886

Tyrus Raymond Cobb is born in Narrows, Georgia.


His minor league team sells him to the Detroit Tigers for $750.


His mother fatally shoots his father with a pistol.


Finishes the season with a league-leading .350 batting average, 212 hits, 49 steals and 119 RBIs.


Wins the Triple Crown by hitting .377 with 107 RBIs and nine home runs, all inside the park.


Hits .382, tying him for the league with Nap Jajoie. Both receive a Chalmbers automobile for their efforts.


Wins another batting crown, hitting .420, while leading the AL with 248 hits 147 runs scored, 127 RBI, 83 stolen bases, 47 doubles, 24 triples, and a .621 slugging percentage.


Goes into the stands to beat up a handicapped heckler.


Sets the single-season record for stolen bases with 96—which stood until 1962—while winning his ninth consecutive batting title, hitting .369.


Notches his 3,000 hit at age 34, still the youngest ballplayer to reach that milestone.


Retires after batting .300 or higher in 23 consecutive seasons—a major league record—and winning 12 AL batting titles.


In the first Hall of Fame election Cobb was named on 222 of 226 ballots, ahead of Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson.

July 17, 1961

Dies in Emory Hospital in Atlanta at age 74.

Ty Cobb: The Warren Buffet Of Baseball

By David Seideman

“He may well have been one of the greatest players of all time— some say he should be number one among Baseball’s 100— but he was also probably the most disliked superstar ever. He was cruel, nasty, vicious, on the edge of neurotic behavior throughout his career. He would be an awful example of a baseball hero.”

So wrote Maury Allen in 1982’s Baseball’s Best 100. But Cobb’s infamous orneriness never dissuaded collectors.

“When investing in baseball memorabilia rule number one: the bigger the name, the better the return,” notes Ron Keurajian, a baseball historian and Cobb collector. “You can make the argument that Ty Cobb, the Georgia Peach, was the greatest player ever, even better than Babe Ruth. He holds the record for holding records.”

At the same time, Cobb’s notoriety was the essence of his persona. He got into fistfights with opponent and teammates with equal frequency. His image of flying spikes high into catchers personified his ferocity. He supposedly had no friends in the game. 

“Growing up in Detroit I can remember the old timers reminiscing about Cobb,” Keurajian adds. “Psychotic, homicidal, monstrous, and my personal favorite: a ‘rolling ball of hell,’ were just some of the names they called him.’

What few people realize was that Cobb’s will to win may have even been exceeded by his talent as an investor. Not only that, but his savviness as an investor matched his mellowness in old age. He was one of the wealthiest pre-free agency ex-ballplayers, racking up a fortune worth $12.1 million, according to the Beverly Hills-San Francisco investment firm of E.G. Griffin Corp. when he passed away in 1961 (For the record, that’s $105 million in 2021 dollars.)

Much to the undoubted surprise of those who suffered Cobb’s wrath, the devil incarnate used his riches for plenty of good deeds. He erected a hospital in his hometown, established and supported an educational foundation to give college scholarships and financial aid to needy and worthy young students, and wrote checks out to ex-players he knew who were down on their luck.

When you dig into Cobb’s backstory, you shouldn’t be surprised with his savvy and kindness. “His distinguished lineage included lawyers, doctors, Revolutionary War heroes, politicians, and two Civil War brigadier generals,” wrote Donal Honig in Image of their Greatness. “His father [a college graduate] was at one time or another mayor, state senator, schoolteacher, country school commissioner, and editor of the local paper.”

His mother, a Southern belle, was from a well-fixed family. In an era when ballplayers were mostly ruffians, Cobb had claims to class. “Cobb came from circumstances several cuts above that of most professional ballplayers,” writes Charles Alexander in Our Game.

As he left home for his first minor league team, Cobb’s father wished him well with these gentle parting words: “Don’t come home a failure.” After bouncing around for a few seasons and earning no more than $50 a year, Cobb was eventually sold to the Detroit Tigers in 1905 for the sum of $750.

During his first professional season with the Detroit Tigers in 1905, he lived in a $10-a-week boarding house, while taking home $1,200 per year salary. Within two years, he was leading the league in hitting with a batting average of .350, and by 1909, he led the Tigers to three straight American League pennants. Following the 1909 season, Cobb was given a $1,000 bonus and his salary was raised to $9,000 per year, after which he became one of the leagues fiercest salary negotiators, this despite the reserve clause that bound all players to their own team in perpetuity. 

For Cobb, salary was as much about the money as it was about a sign of respect.

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Cobb’s final season in professional baseball was in 1927. He finished out as a player-manager for the Philadelphia Athletics where he earned his highest career salary, $85,000. A year later, he was wealthy enough to make an offer to single-handedly purchase the Cincinnati Reds for $275,000, an offer that was ultimately declined). When he retired in 1928, Cobb had earned an $491,233 from baseball, which tops out at $7,346,728, adjusted for inflation. 

He cashed in his celebrityhood like there was no tomorrow. Cobb performed in a play called College Widow, then became the first ball player to star in a movie, Somewhere in Georgia., a flick that featured a baseball-playing bank clerk kidnapped on the eve of a big game.

Cobb endorsed dozens of products: Cigarettes, cigars, tonic water, laxative pills, chewing gum, soda pop, Chevrolet cars, land, livestock, Louisville Sluggers, baseball gloves, and even a line of Ty Cobb suspenders. He picked up $1,000 in appearance fees for playing in exhibition games and popping up at state fairs during the off season. He poured all of his money into stock or real estate.

The Georgia Peach appeared in his first advertisement for the Coca-Cola in 1907. The native Georgian was a huge consumer of the Atlanta-based, regional product during its early years when Wall Street was bearish on it. He contacted his broker to order 300 shares. Over the next 20 years, he acquired another 23,700 shares and bought Coke bottling plants in Idaho, Oregon, and California.  He soon became close friends with fellow Georgian Robert Woodruff, whose father Ernest Woodruff was the lead investor and President of the Coca-Cola company. (Robert himself would serve as President of Coca Cola from 1923 to 1954.) Cobb even landed a spot on the company’s Board of Directors.

“The two Georgia boys spent many off season days talking about investment strategies while hunting on Robert’s sprawling estate just outside of Atlanta,” writes Brian Warner. Besides offering young ball players batting tips, he offered them investment advice; telling them to buy as much Coke stock as they could afford.

“In many ways, he was a man before his time in that he subscribed to Peter Lynch’s crayon-test,” notes  The Conservative Income Investor. “The famed investment manager Lynch once said that for the best businesses, you ought to be able to illustrate how they make their money with a crayon. Cobb knew that Coke’s syrup cost a third of a penny to make, and the drinks could be sold for five cents, so the stock seemed like a no-brainer to him. If Coke spent the latter part of the past eighty years saturating the United States, you might conclude that Coke’s poised to saturate the rest of the world in the coming years. If you reach that conclusion, wait for Coke to come down to your price, and don’t be afraid to make a sizable investment when you get in.”

When Cobb died in 1961, he owned more than $2 million of Coke stock in today’s dollars. 

On his days off, Cobb schooled himself about investing, hanging out at the Detroit stock market.  “Having grown up around farmers, he quickly realized that the price of cotton was low and bought $1,000 worth of cotton futures,” Warner adds. “Within two years, as World War I approached and the need for cotton uniforms exploded, Cobb was able to sell his investment for a $7,500 profit.”

Cobbs next investment idea came from another unlikely place. 

Detroit had lost the World Series three years in a row from 1907 through 1909; each loss earned Ty and his teammates a consolation ring made from copper. After staring at those three rings on his desk, it dawned on Cobb that just like cotton, the price of metals would surely skyrocket as World War I dragged on. He immediately set out to find ways to invest in metal, eventually settling on a copper mine in Bibs, Arizona. Cobb bought 400 shares of the copper mine at a price of $3 per share and would eventually sell those shares for a $15,000 profit.” 

That’s $300,000 in today’s dollars.

In 1924, Cobb earned $25,000 to appear in newspaper ads for United Motors. As usual, he was compensated in stock. United Motors was eventually bought by General Motors, and his shares were converted to GM shares just as the American car industry began to soar. His stake in GM expanded as he participated in more ad campaigns. In addition, because his original United Motor shares were purchased at such a very early stage, they entitled him to huge quarterly dividend payment till his death. 

Cobb also owned huge tracts of real estate including more than half of what would become Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Then there was a fat portfolio of blue chip stocks and bonds, plus accruing bank interest. He co-authored several memoirs and continued to make public appearances both for profit and for charity until his death.

Before Cobb died in 1961, his portfolio contained $10 million worth of General Motors stock. Combined with his $2 million of Coke stock and his other investments, his portfolio was paying out $450,000 every quarter in dividends alone. That meant his personal net worth was growing by more than $15 million per year in today’s dollars. 

It’s been said that charity covers a multitude of sins. For a self-described “snarling wildcat” who liked to sharpen his spikes in the dugout to intimidate opposing infielders of whom he was fond spiking, Cobb showed a noble philanthropic streak. After former Tiger and Hall of Fame catcher Mickey Cochrane was seriously injured in 1937 by a beanball and needed money, Cobb paid off his bills and supported him for his final 25 years. “There were many more like Mickey he helped,” said former opponent Muddy Ruel.

In 1950, Cobb contributed $100,000 to a new 24-room hospital in his hometown of Royston, Georgia. Residents refer to Cobb Memorial as “The hospital that was built with a bat.” He also donated a large portion of his Coca-Cola shares to building the Ty Cobb Healthcare System which today operates seven full-service hospitals and care facilities throughout Georgia.

Cobb divested many of his Coke shares to establish the Ty Cobb Educational Foundation, “[F]or the purpose of assisting capable and deserving residents of Georgia who need financial assistance in completing their college education.”  His financial prosperity eventually allowed him to establish a scholarship program that has to date assisted thousands of Georgians to attend college. A sweet irony is that one of the best investments has been, of all things, his baseball cards. While working for Forbes, in 2016, I assigned Ron Keurajian, who has written two definitive autograph guides, to write a prescient post for me titled Ty Cobb: Good Man, Great Player, And Solid Investment, where he wrote,

“The general rule when investing in any type of collectable is to avoid the pedestrian material and go for the highest end you can afford. You may have to spend more up front but in the long run the pay-off will be much greater.  When investing in Cobb memorabilia, focus on high grade baseball cards from his playing days which will always be in great demand. Fellow Hall of Famer George Sisler once said that the ‘The greatness of Ty Cobb was something to be seen and to see him was to remember him forever.’ In future decades Cobb’s legend will only grow. While it’s best never to spend your grocery or retirement money, anything associated with the Georgia Peach should prove a fine, long-term investment.”

Two things are for sure. Ty Cobb would have gotten huge kick out of playing a central role in such a mindblowing investment. And he would be buying them like crazy. 


David Seideman is a Senior Editor for Collectable. His sportswriting has been seen in Time, Sports Illustrated, and Forbes.

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