The guy was one of the toughest players around and bat sh*t crazy. (In addition to being a racist).
(Most of this stuff was taken from wikipedia and some other sites.)
Reasons to be intimidated of the guy off the field
At spring training in 1907, he fought a black groundskeeper over the condition of the Tigers' field in Augusta, Georgia. Ty also ended up choking the man's wife when she intervened.
Cobb once slapped a black elevator operator for being "uppity." When a black night watchman intervened, Cobb pulled out a knife and stabbed him (The matter was later settled out of court)."
Reasons to be intimidated of the guy on the field
Cobb and umpire Billy Evans arranged to settle their in-game differences with a fistfight, to be conducted under the grandstand after the game. Members of both teams served as the spectators, and broke up the scuffle after Cobb had knocked Evans down, pinned him, and began choking him
There is a legend that he was being heckled during a game and hit seven consecutive foul balls at the hecklers.
A famous legend about Cobb was that he sharpened the spikes on his cleats so that he could injure any basemen that he slid into. Cobb liked people to believe it at the time, to further intimidate them, but later publicly denied doing so.
Cobb was having a typically fine year in 1911, which included a 40-game hitting streak. Still, ?Shoeless? Joe Jackson had a .009 point lead on him in batting average. What happened next is discussed in Cobb's autobiography. Near the end of the season, Cobb?s Tigers had a long series against Jackson and the Cleveland Naps. Fellow Southerners, Cobb and Jackson were personally friendly both on and off the field. Cobb used that friendliness for his gain. However, Cobb suddenly ignored Jackson whenever Jackson said anything to him. When Jackson persisted, Cobb snapped angrily at Jackson, making him wonder what he could have done to enrage Cobb. As soon as the series was over, Cobb unexpectedly greeted Jackson and wished him well. Cobb felt that it was these mind games that caused Jackson to "fall off" to a final average of .408, while Cobb himself finished with a .420 average.
Playing against the New York Yankees, Cobb scored a run from first base on a single to right field, then scored another run from second base on a wild pitch. In the 7th inning, he tied the game with a 2-run double. The Yankee catcher began vociferously arguing the call with the umpire, going on at such length that the other Yankee infielders gathered nearby to watch. Realizing that no one on the Yankees had called time, Cobb strolled unobserved to third base, and then casually walked towards home plate as if to get a better view of the argument. He then suddenly slid into home plate for the game's winning run.
In one notable game on September 2, 1907, Cobb reached first, stole second, stole third, and then stole home on consecutive attempts.
After enduring several years of seeing his fame and notoriety usurped by Ruth, Cobb decided that he was going to show that swinging for the fences was no challenge for a top hitter. On May 5, 1925, Cobb began a two-game hitting spree better than any even Ruth had unleashed. He was sitting in the dugout talking to a reporter and told him that, for the first time in his career, he was going to swing for the fences. That day, Cobb went 6 for 6, with two singles, a double, and three home runs. His 16 total bases set a new AL record. The next day he had three more hits, two of which were home runs. Cobb wanted to show that he could hit home runs when he wanted, but simply chose not to do so. At the end of the series, 38-year-old Cobb had gone 12 for 19 with 29 total bases, and then went happily back to bunting and hitting-and-running.
I would agree about Ty Cobb's omission but as someone who has actively watched baseball for over fifty years, by far the biggest SOB they got 100% right - Bob Gibson.
There is no way to explain how intimidating he was. You had to know if the guy ahead of you just hit a homerun you were going to be drilled. Not brushed back, not finding yourself laying in the dirt, you were going to f'ing drilled, and it was going to be hurt.
Pitchers aren't allowed to throw inside now. It's a shame. It's a big part of the game that is missing. Imagine if the rules allowed Matt Lindstrom to throw inside to move guys off the plate with his heat. On the otherside of course is the opposing team would be doing the same.
Truthfully though, I miss it.
But this was also the time when none of this silly hands first base-stealing either. Guys went into 2nd base cleats up, you drove the SS or 2nd baseman off the base if need be. And I'm not talking about one or two guys, everyone did it to everyone. Infielders were cut up and nicked by flying metal cleats all the time.
It was really the advent of escalating salaries that changed alot of this. The MLBPA institiuted the "do unto others" rule, that if you didn't want get hurt and hurt your chances at a big payday you have to watch out not to injure a guy in the same situation on the opposing team. The other night I was at a game and see Hanley running out before the first inning and giving some guy (Rollins???) on the Phillies a bear hug and I'm saying myself "better he stick a knife in his ribs than hug the guy...Geezusss" but that's how baseball is played today.
One big happy family.
I couldn't make a list like this without it including Don Drysdale. He's the one name I think along with Cobb (who is really representative of a whole era) missing.