Tuesday, May 22 , 2018, 6:41 am | Fair 53º


Jim Langley: Overcoming Character Condemnation

Ty Cobb died in the summer of 1961. My baseball career was taking off that summer and I remember the shock of hearing the news that the greatest baseball player of all times had died.

Back in those days, Cobb was considered the finest hitter in the game with a .366 lifetime batting average. To put his accomplishments into perspective, Cobb accumulated 4,189 hits in 11,434 official at-bats over 23 seasons in the Major Leagues.

During his career, he only struck out 680 times and walked 1249 times. He also amassed 892 stolen bases in his illustrious career.

Unfortunately, his character has been tarnished by unfounded stories about his life on and off the baseball diamond.

Cobb was a controversial character. He was also a fierce and fiery competitor who was respected by his teammates and his opponents.

In recent years, Cobb has been exonerated from many stories made up by Al Stump, a sportswriter commissioned to write a biography on his life. A few months after Cobb lost his battle with cancer, Stump wrote an exposé for True Magazine headlined “Ty Cobb’s Wild 10-month Fight to Live,” depicting him as a seedy character unworthy of the many accolades bestowed during his lifetime.

After Stump’s death in 1995, the record was set straight by several sportswriters who passionately wanted to vindicate Cobb of those harmful fictional accounts. Then in 2015, sportswriter Charles Leerhsen published Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty, which fully exonerates Cobb of the lies that were fabricated after his death.

Certainly, Cobb was no saint, but he was gravely misrepresented after his death and apparently it was all about financial gain for the fiction that was produced in volumes.

So you may be wondering where all this is going. Well, there was a man in the first century who was greatly maligned and the stories denying his rightful place in history continue to this day.

That man, Jesus of Nazareth, claimed to be the Son of God and yet the world continues to fabricate and spread stories to discredit His identity and His character. Yes, He’s considered a great prophet, but He is so much more.

I came to believe the Truth about Christ when I was 40, and there’s no doubt in my mind that He is truly more than just a great profit and healer of those afflicted during His short time on earth.

He is rightfully my Savior and Lord. I place all my trust in Him and His Father in Heaven, and I cherish the Holy Spirit Who lives in my heart.

You may ask, “How do you know this is true?” Well, it’s quite simple: I was there when it happened, and I’ve seen the results of following Him all these years. Through the good and the seemingly bad times, I’ve experienced His closeness and concern for me and those near me. He is real and He lives!

Let me tell you a true story about a local businessman’s encounter with Ty Cobb. For several years before his death in his home state of Georgia, Cobb lived in Montecito. He was befriended by a CBMC of Santa Barbara member, Al Pfau.

Years after this encounter, Pfau wrote an article about his many meetings with Cobb in his Montecito home. They would often talk about Christ and, prior to his death, Cobb wrote him a letter informing him that he had decided to follow Jesus right after Pfau left his home on that final meeting.

You may be wondering how a 70-year old man can possibly make such a life-changing decision so late in his life journey. Well, apparently Cobb was once quite close to making a decision for Christ as a teenager, when he became distracted by a bird that flew into a window at church one Sunday morning. In his letter, he confided in Pfau that he used that experience to fiercely focus and increase his adrenaline when stealing bases.

Ty Cobb will always be known as a great baseball player. What’s most important is he now has the peace that can only come from a personal relationship with His Maker.

If you’ve never made that decision to totally accept Christ, put the lies about Him behind you, study the scriptures and submit to Him as Savior and Lord of your life this day forward. You won’t regret this decision the rest of your days!

Passages to Ponder

» Matthew 28:8-10

» Matthew 28:16-20

» Acts 1:3

» Romans 10:9-13

» I Corinthians 15:3-8

— Jim Langley has been writing for more than 30 years while working as a life and health insurance agent in Santa Barbara. In recent years, his passion has turned to writing about his personal relationship with God, and his goal is to encourage others to draw near to Him as well. As a longtime member of CBMC of Santa Barbara (Christian Business Men’s Connection), he started writing Fourth Quarter Strategies columns in 2014, and he now reaches an international audience through the CBMC International devotional Monday Manna. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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