- Written by webmin
The current Sports Illustrated has a great story about Ty Cobb, Nap Lajoie and the race for the 1910 batting title, and how Hugh Chalmers of car fame hotted up the season with the promise of a Chalmers 30 to the batting champion. Read it. Done? So the long and short is that both ended up with 30s; it was Cobb’s second.
So those are big names in the Teens, and Ty Cobb, at least, is still a household name today. While he was hated, he was still a major celebrity, and this was only one of several Chalmers he either bought or won as part of the A.L. Chalmers Trophy (precursor to the MVP) in the Teens, before the award was discontinued after 1915.
Cobb appears to have been a genuine Chalmers fan, in fact. He owned a racing, 40hp Chalmers-Detroit Bluebird in 1909 and drove it on a New York to Atlanta tour; won the 36 pictured up top in 1911 – I count at least four, possibly five, in his stable between 1909 and 1916. In the fall of 1910, he drove his Trophy ’10 Chalmers from Detroit back to Atlanta for the Grand Prix, to be the site of a three-heat race with Brooklyn National Nap Rucker “for the baseball-automobile championship of Georgia,” the outcome of which is lost to history. (Although that trip pales in comparison to the Red Sox’s Tris Speaker, who delivered a baseball from Boston’s Mayor Fitzgerald to the Governor of Texas in his Velie, 2,000 miles–and presumably back.) He even attempted to make a living from cars, upon his first, abortive retirement starting a parts distributorship in the south in 1919, which became the Ty Cobb Tire Co. in Augusta, Georgia (it went bankrupt in 1922).
But the cars are all gone.
The Chalmers Registry knows the whereabouts of 126 cars, which is a good survival rate for an early car, but none of them appear to be any either of the Chalmers Trophy cars, or Cobb’s personal automobiles. That’s not particularly surprising in itself: While I’d think his cars might have been collectible back in the day, we’re only talking about a handful of them, a long, long time ago.
But what does mystify me is the complete disappearance of them. He drove them all over the country, often to matches, and of course his baseball career continued for decades, but within a year of any of his Chalmers coming into his possession, all mention of them ceases. After 1915, they’re never mentioned again outside of the context of the year in which he got them. Where did they go? Did some Ty Cobb hater buy them and have a little demolition derby? It’s not out of the realm of possibility, I admit.
Have you ever heard what became of them, or seen a later photo? I’d love to hear about it, if you have.