Those two near-indisputable opinions, and many more, are packed into Cobb, Lee Blessing's engaging, heated drama at the Mint Theater (presented by the Melting Pot Theatre Company). The play clocks in at a lean 75 minutes--not even four full innings at your average Yankee's game--but it's not for lack of material. Blessing (A Walk in the Woods, Chesapeake) is just a ruthless editor.
Cobb's stats are well-documented: He had a lifetime average of .366, and hit over .400 in three seasons; he won nearly 12 batting titles, racked up nearly 900 stolen bases, and was one of the first inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Blessing doesn't linger over the numbers--no one disputes those; rather, he gives us some insight into the personality (or, say some, personalities) of this heroic, tragic man.
We are presented with three Cobbs. That is, Cobb at three stages of his life: the eldest, Mr. Cobb (Michael Cullen), stricken with cancer; the middle-aged Ty (Michael Sabatino), all business smarts and savviness (Cobb put his money into stock like General Motors and Coca-Cola, and emerged one of baseball's first millionaires); and the plucky Peach (Matthew Mabe), the player in his prime. Though they go back and forth from 1886 through 1961, all are speaking, Copenhagen-style, from beyond the grave.
And they all have their own version of events. Wrapped in a bathrobe and cloaked in bitterness, Mr. Cobb wants to remember the glories, not the defeats. His memory has a tendency to lapse, as old men's do. So to jog it, Blessing adds another man to the lineup: Oscar Charleston (Clark Jackson), another Hall-of-Famer who's not quite as renowned as our eponymous hero. Charleston played for the Negro League, and was nicknamed "The Black Cobb." It's not a title he wears with pride.