Ben’s Baseball Alphabet: Gooseberry

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At the dawn of the 20th century, Great Grandma used to make the best gooseberry pies in town. She baked them all summer long, and set the pies to rest on her windowsill. They would usually find their way into the hands of a grateful neighbor or into the belly of a daring black bear. In 1912, after Bedford City became just Bedford, she entered the local Fourth of July pie competition and won the blue ribbon. She beat out the perennial winner, Norma Wilson, and her delicious apple pie. It was a big upset and Norma never spoke to Great Grandma again, but fair is fair.

Ty Cobb Comes to Bedford

Following the unexpected victory word spread about Great Grandma’s pie. It was rumored that when the Detroit Tigers were visiting the Washington Senators in late July of that same year, none other than the great Ty Cobb caught wind of the blue ribbon gooseberry pie in Bedford. Cobb went 0-for-4 in the first game of the series and was feeling lousy, so he decided that he would make the 200-mile trip south to Bedford. He hoped to get a slice of Great Grandma’s pie to lift his spirits and quite possibly his batting average.

As luck would have it, Great Grandma had baked a pie earlier that day. The pie was originally intended for Mr. Reed as payment for work he had done reattaching a fallen rain gutter. But the pie’s recipient changed when Mr. Cobb knocked on the door. Cobb had inquired about Great Grandma’s whereabouts from a local gentleman, which we later found out was old George Yotter, and easily found her place. Well, Great Grandma was a big fan of baseball and ardently read the papers and box scores every morning. She frequently saw Cobb’s picture and immediately recognized him as he walked up to her front door.

Cobb Has a Slice

After explaining what he was doing there, Great Grandma forgot all about nice Mr. Reed. She cut a slice for Cobb who happily sat at the table and devoured it. He liked the pie so much that he had another slice and took the rest of it with him for the trip back to Washington. The following day, Cobb went 2-for-5, with an RBI, and two stolen bases. Not a bad day for Cobb, who, Great Grandma was sure, couldn’t have done it without her gooseberry pie.

We don’t know if Great Grandma was telling the truth about her encounter with the Georgia Peach, but that wasn’t the end of the story.

Busting ‘Em and Other Big League Stories

Not only did she claim that her pie was a slump buster, but she also said that Cobb used “gooseberries” to describe bruises on his legs and she was the reason why. Great Grandma informed us that when Cobb was eating her pie she notice that he had bruises on his legs and she called them his gooseberries. He got a big kick out of this and used “gooseberries” to describe bruises from sliding in a book that he wrote in 1914. The book was Busting ‘Em and Other Big League Stories. And while Cobb was credited with authoring the collection it was actually ghostwritten by John N. Wheeler a well know newspaperman at the time.

Whether Great Grandma was telling tall tales or not we will never know. But one thing is for sure G Is for Gooseberry.

Main Photo:

Embed from Getty Images

Players Mentioned:

Ty Cobb