Dr. John R. Richardson was pastor of the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Georgia, and he was quite well-known in his day. The following statement concerning the famous baseball player Ty Cobb was issued by him was prepared at the request of the Board of Directors of THE PRESBYTERIAN JOURNAL, and it appeared in the October 4, 1961 issue, on page 6. Ty Cobb died on this day, July 17, 1961.
Dr. John R. Richardson at the Deathbed of Ty Cobb
During recent months sports writers have been reminding us of the peerless baseball record of Tyrus Raymond Cobb. Ty Cobb played in 3,033 games, a record no other player has ever approached – and it is considered unlikely that any ever will. Cobb set 13 batting records that have never been surpassed. Among them: highest lifetime batting average (.367), most bases hit (4,191), most bases (5,863), most singles (3,052), most years batting over .300 (23). He batted over .400 three times, led the American League in batting twelve times and nine years in a row.
During his early days Cobb was known as a rough and rugged character. During his latter years he mellowed and found much pleasure in doing for others.
About two months before his death Cobb became a patient at Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital. He was afflicted with cancer of the bone as well as several other ailments.
During Cobb’s stay in the Hospital, Charles W. Outlaw suggested that we visit Ty in regard to the welfare of his soul. On our first visit, Ty said he had just been given sedation and would like for us to come back the next day when his mind was clearer. We read to him a passage of Scripture and offered a prayer. He was deeply appreciative and insisted we return at our earliest convenience.
Two days later we went for our second visit. . It was obvious that the Holy Spirit had been working in his heart. We explained to him God’s plan of salvation. He listened with perfect attention. As we told him how Christ came to save sinners and of His incomparable love for us, he was touched. Then we gave him the New Testament meaning of savjng faith, and spoke of the necessity for repentance. To these he responded earnestly. He said he wanted to put his complete trust in Christ to save him, and it was evident that he was sincere in this.
On subsequent occasions Ty was ready to tell us how comforting it was to rely on Christ. He loved to talk about how much Christ meant to him during his suffering and as he faced the future. The last visit was two days before his death. At this time he said, “I feel the strong arms of God underneath me. It is wonderful to be able to pray. I want you to tell others that they should not wait until a crisis comes to learn how to pray.”
Through the amazing grace of God, Ty Cobb was able to die peacefully in the Christian faith. If he could speak to us today I am sure it would be to urge us early to put our trust in Christ as Saviour. Since Ty’s death a number of people have called me to ask if he did not talk about some of his baseball experiences. The truth is he never once mentioned baseball, dear as it was to him. He became wholly occupied with the God who made him and redeemed him through His Son.
Words to Live By:
There’s a tremendous truth in the last biblical phrase of Acts 13:48. It reads “. . . and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” The context is that of the Apostle Paul turning from the Jews to the Gentiles in his quest for souls. To either class, the proclamation of the gospel — the good news of eternal life — will bring saving faith to those who have been appointed or ordained to eternal life from before the foundation of the earth. Both parts of this simple sentence are true and faithful. Who will believe the good news of eternal life? Answer: Those appointed to eternal life. How will we know of these chosen to salvation? Answer: When they believe the gospel.