Cobb in Sandstone
Note: All non-evident historical facts in this post are sourced from park signage.
Hinckley Metropark, which is about 25 miles south of Cleveland, is best known for the buzzards that return to roost their each March, a local event that has inspired the branding of the city’s iconic rock station WMMS. Apart from that, most visitors use its lake for fishing, kayaking, or a kiddie swimming area:
Or visit Whipp’s Ledges, large formations of sandstone suitable for climbing:
Much less known, tucked away in the southern portion of the park, are Worden’s Ledges. These ledges are smaller and less numerous, too small for climbing up their faces as is popular at Whipp’s ledges. Instead of climbing up their faces, though, you can look at the faces in their faces.
In 1851 Hiram Worden established a homestead on the land where the ledges sit, and established the family tradition of carving into the sandstone, although I’m sure at this time it made a lot of sense to establish a semi-permanent marker of one’s property for practical rather than artistic reasons:
Eventually his daughter Nettie inherited the property, and in the 1940s her third husband Noble Stuart, a retired bricklayer, decided to engage in some more ambitious carving on the ledges. Perhaps he started small with his wife’s name:
He proceeded to much more ambitious carvings, with a seeming emphasis on Christ and the cross, Egyptian mythology, and the American revolution. This one of Christ on the cross is unique from the other carvings in that it stands alone and was not carved directly into the ledges:
Whereas this less ambitious cross was:
The simple variation on the Egyptian theme, with rudimentary pyramids and a moon and sun:
On the other hand, there’s a full-blown sphinx:
Although not as gaudy as the sphinx, I like this schooner:
Then the American Revolution theme comes in with faces of George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette. I will admit with respect to all of the face carvings that I really can’t tell who they are supposed to be, or how to distinguish them. So I am just guessing that this is Lafayette:
And this is Washington:
Even if you have found faux vintage rock carvings of questionable artistic value tucked away in a Metropark to be an interesting aside, you may be wondering “what does any of this have to do with baseball?” The answer is that there is a carving of the Georgia Peach. Again, I have no idea what about this face is supposed to distinguish it as being that of the great Ty Cobb (a cap with an old English D might have helped?). Unlike Washington and Lafayette, though, I know it was intended to be Ty Cobb, because a helpful label of “T. Cobb” is carved directly to the left of the face:
A slightly different angle:
And one to give some perspective on the size of the carving relative to the ledge:
I’d be curious to know why Cobb was singled out for immortality (well, not really immortality, as I don’t think one needs to be a geologist to assume that sandstone carvings will not have the same longevity as those in harder rock), rather than Nap Lajoie, Tris Speaker, or Cy Young (as might have been appropriate for the home team), or Babe Ruth or Hans Wagner, etc. Cobb obviously is a towering figure in baseball history, and quite worthy of such an honor – I’m simply curious why he was the one ballplayer Mr. Stuart chose to carve next to Jesus, Washington, and Lafayette.
I have been to this park and these ledges many times. The first time I visited, I knew the carvings were there, but I did not realize that Ty Cobb was one of them. So it was quite exciting to suddenly see Ty Cobb staring back at me – and in the dwindling sunlight of an October late afternoon, maybe even a tad unsettling.