Louis D. Brandeis and the World Series


I recently stumbled upon an old newspaper article that contained an anecdote about Brandeis attending a baseball game that I had never heard before. Normally I would discount a story like this as being too good to be true, but I am going to suspend my disbelief in this case partly because the reporter claims he heard Brandeis’s brother Alfred tell this story numerous times, and also because I really, really want it to be true.

The story takes place at a World Series game in which the Boston Braves were playing. The Braves’s season had gotten off to a terrible start and their coming back and entering the World Series (which they would win) is apparently one of the greatest comeback stories in baseball history. But as Brandeis was not a follower of sports, he probably would have been aware of little of this.

As the reporter tells it:

Next to him…there sat a man who seemed to be rather egotistical, and constantly shouted advice to the players on the field. The future judge stood this for a time and then turned to his neighbor with a word of counsel.

“It’s easy to criticize,” he said, “but don’t you think those men out on the field know more about it than we do?”

His neighbor smiled and would have had every right to answer, “Speak for yourself, John,” but he was satisfied to hand him a card. It bore the name of Tyrus R. Cobb.

If this really happened and that was really was the notoriously prickly Ty Cobb, Brandeis is lucky he just got a business card instead of a punch in the face.

(Taken from the article “Off the Record” by Harry Bloom and published in the November 19, 1938 issue of the Louisville Times.)

Update (11/30/2016): It would appear that Cobb really was in Boston for the World Series. Check out this article about the final game (be sure to look at the footnotes). It looks like this story might actually be true.


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