The Ultimate Loving Cups
The Washington Post reported, “During the intermission the curtain was rung up, and it revealed on the stage Ty Cobb, Mr. [George] Evans, and Mr. C. Henry Cohen, a prominent local attorney and baseball fan. The trophy was sitting on a pedestal in the center of the ground. Mr. Cohen stated ‘that Augusta and Georgia were most proud of Ty Cobb, and that Augusta felt truly grateful that her most distinguished athlete should have chosen his home city for the presentation of the trophy’….A storm of cheers broke forth when Cobb rose to reply. He was plainly nervous, and he could have faced Ed Walsh at his best with much more nerve than he faced an audience composed of his admiring friends and neighbors. The famous ball player said that he felt deeply appreciative of the gift. He said that it had always been and will always be his intention to play for the best interests of the team he was with, and that his own personal record was always a matter of secondary consideration.”
Cobb won the cup again the following year in a hotly heated contest with Nap Lajoie. In 1910, they battled to the wire for the American League batting crown. Conflicting numbers in the newspapers along with Lajoie’s controversial final-day 8-for-8 performance added to the commotion. Eventually, AL president Ban Johnson declared Cobb the champion with a .385 average. He was presented his second “Honey Boy” cup the following August in Detroit. Some 70 years later, researchers discovered of a record-keeping error from 1910 which led to Lajoie’s eventual recognition as the actual batting champ.
Cobb’s dominance continued with major-league leading averages of .417 (now recognized as .420) and .410 (now recognized as .409) in 1911 and 1912, earning his third and fourth “Honey Boy” Evans cups and four of five total.
Evans stopped awarding a cup after the 1912 season. There seems to be no explanation in the historical record, but both his health and finances could have restricted his ability to continue such generosity. Evans lived for only three more years, dying in March 1915 from stomach cancer at the age of 44. Two years prior to his death in January 1913, he was unanimously elected honorary president of the Baseball Players’ Fraternity, a testament to Evans’ impact on the game.
A letter from President Dave Fultz stated, “Because of the great interest you have always evinced in the welfare of ball-players, your friendliness to them when off the stage, your eagerness to always extend to them every courtesy within your power when the teams of which they are members appear in the city where your production holds the boards….you have been elected honorary president of the Baseball Players’ Fraternity.”
It comes as no surprise that Evans was held in such high regard by the baseball industry. Almost 100 years after his death, the “Honey Boy” Evans cups provide a constant reminder of his legacy as one of the game’s biggest fans and supporters.
Erik Strohl is the vice president of exhibitions and collections at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum