August 30 is a pretty monumental day in baseball history. Two of MLB's best players both share milestones as it's Ted Williams' birthday and marks the professional debut of Ty Cobb.
Nicknamed "The Georgia Peach," Cobb began his successful MLB career in 1905, shooting a double in his first major league at bat. Although peaches are sweet, there was nothing sweet about Cobb's playing career. The fiery Tigers player considered baseball to be "something like war" and "every at bat for him was a crusade" based on quotes by Tigers second basemen Charlie Gehringer from Baseball When the Grass Was Real.
Much of Cobb's legacy is shrouded in controversy. He ended his playing career with either a .366 or .367 BA, credited with either 11 or 12 batting titles and held on to the record of most career hits (4,189 or 4,191) until 1985. Cobb was also credited with setting 90 MLB records throughout his career.
As great as he was on the field, it would be Cobb's actions off the field that would tarnish the legacy of the Tigers great. This is due in part to his feisty personality and autobiographies that would be released and eventually discredited following his passing. Cobb's post-MLB legacy involves a large college scholarship fund for Georgia residents, due to his early investments in Coca-Cola & General Motros.
Williams played his entire professional baseball career for the Boston Red Sox. His career lasted from 1939-1960 with some interruptions due to World War II & The Korean War. Williams earned 19 All-Star nods along with two AL MVPs. He also was a six-time AL batting champion and a two-time Triple Crown winner. His final stat line shows a .344 BA, 521 HRs and a .482 on-base percentage. He's also the last MLB player to bat over .400 in a season. To say that Williams was great at hitting is an understatement. Even at age 39 & 40, Williams would win the AL batting titles.
Williams' legacy goes far beyond baseball. His work with the Jimmy Fund is credited with raining millions of dollars for cancer care and research. Williams would be presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by United States President George H.W. Bush, the highest award a civilian can be given by the US government.
Beyond setting new standards for quality of play on the field with charitable work off the diamond, both Cobb and Williams served in the military. Cobb enlisted in the Chemical Corps branch of the US Army and was stationed in the headquarters of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Chaumont, France during World War I. He would be given the rank of captain and would receive an honorable discharge after serving for 67 days overseas. Williams served as a Naval Aviator for the US Navy during World War II & The Korean War. Outside of his Presidential Medal of Freedom, Williams would earn a litany of additional decorations and awards during his service.