Drawing on the harrowing year he spent with Ty Cobb as ghostwriter of his autobiography, Stump pens an astounding portrait that leaves little doubt the Hall of Famer was ""psychotic throughout his baseball career."" When they ""collaborated"" on My Life in Baseball in 1960, the Georgia Peach was a bitter, unreasonable, gun-toting, 73-year-old cancer-ridden drunk. Cobb's spectacular career (1905 -- 28) was marked by ugliness and violence from the beginning. Just days before Cobb was called up to the big leagues, his father was shotgunned to death by his mother, apparently while trying to climb or spy through their bedroom window. She was acquitted of manslaughter, but rumors plagued her and her famous son the rest of their lives. As an 18-year-old rookie, Cobb faced such unbearable hazing from his Detroit Tigers teammates that he bought a gun to protect himself. He suffered a nervous breakdown in his second year and spent part of the season in a sanitarium. When he returned, his welcome was a hotel lobby brawl with his hated teammates that left a couple of them hospitalized -- but Cobb led the team in hitting. The controversies, fights, and incidents so vividly recounted by Stump make today's ""troubled"" athletes look like choirboys. Cobb once beat up a black groundskeeper -- and his wife -- for touching him. Umpires, managers, teammates, opposing players, his wife and children -- all who ""increased his tension"" -- were subject to fierce attack. But his baseball talent was such that many consider him the greatest ever to play the game. His records for hits and stolen bases stood until Pete Rose and Rickey Henderson, respectively, broke them. He won 12 batting titles. His most remarkable -- and untouchable -- feats were hitting over .300 for 23 consecutive seasons and his .367 lifetime batting average. (A movie about Cobb will be released this fall.) Stump's wonderfully descriptive writing, yeoman historical research, and personal knowledge of Cobb make this an extraordinary achievement in sports biography.