Cy Young

Position: Pitcher
Teams: Cleveland Spiders, 1890-1898; St. Louis Perfectos (Cardinals), 1899-1900; Boston Somersets (Pilgrims, Red Sox), 1901-1908; Cleveland Naps, 1909-1911; Boston Braves, 1911
Manager: Boston Red Sox, 1907
Managerial Record: 3-3

Shortly after being signed by Canton of the Tri-State League in 1890, the 23-year-old Denton True Young was spotted warming up against a wooden fence on a farm in Ohio. The ensuing damage to the barrier, as legend has it, was likened to that of a cyclone hitting a wall. An enterprising sportswriter shortened “cyclone” to “Cy,” and Young would never again be known by any other name during his professional career.

Cy Young Hall of Famer
Denton True Young's powerful pitching arm gave him the nickname "Cy Young,"
as the pitches he hurled were similar to the movement of a cyclone.

Cy Young (1867-1955) made his big-league debut with the Cleveland Spiders on August 6, 1890. Most of the game’s stars were playing in the Players League that season. One of those who were not was Cap Anson, player-manager of the Chicago White Stockings, Young’s foes in his inaugural outing.

Anson had scouted Young while he was at Canton and rejected him as being “just another big farmer.” When Cy beat the White Stockings 8-1 and allowed only three hits, Anson strove to purchase him from Cleveland.

Throughout the 1890s, Young, Kid Nichols, and Amos Rusie vied for recognition as the top pitcher in the game. Although Nichols pitched for the best team and collected the most wins, and Rusie regularly logged the most strikeouts and lowest ERAs, it was Young who reached the top of the league in all three departments.

He blended stamina, guile, and excellent control in almost equal measures to make him a pitcher who rarely had a bad game. A pennant for the Spiders never materialized, however, and when attendance sagged in Cleveland, Young and most of the team’s other stars were shipped to St. Louis in 1899.

Turning 33 years old in 1900, Young slipped to just 19 wins, his lowest output since his rookie season. Speculation that he was nearly through gave St. Louis some consolation when Young deserted the club to sign with Boston in the newly reorganized American League. The rumors of Young’s imminent departure from the game soon were dispelled after he led the yearling major league in wins in 1901, then repeated his feat the next two years.

Cy went on to win 20 or more games six times for Boston, pitch on two pennant winners, and participate in the first modern World Series in 1903. Perhaps the finest effort of his career came on May 5, 1904, when he pitched a perfect game to beat Rube Waddell of the Philadelphia Athletics 3-0.

Sold to Cleveland at age 42 in 1909, Young again defied time by leading the Naps mound staff with 19 wins. It was his last good season. Two years later, after winning seven games in a campaign split between Cleveland and the Boston Braves, Young retired with 511 career victories. To the day he last took off his uniform, he boasted that he had never had a sore arm or spent a single minute on the trainer’s table.

Continuing to follow the game closely after retiring to his farm near Peoli, Ohio, Young felt wounded when he was passed over in the initial Hall of Fame election in 1936. The oversight was rectified the following year, however, allowing him to be among the original group of inductees in 1939.

Shortly after Young’s death on November 4, 1955, commissioner Ford Frick originated the Cy Young Award, an annual honor bestowed upon the pitcher deemed most valuable.

Here are Cy Young's major league totals:


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