Early professional baseball great Cy Young was born on an Ohio farm in 1867. Known for his blazing fastball and durability, he established records for most wins, innings pitched and complete games over the course of his 22-year Hall of Fame career. Shortly after his death in 1955, Major League Baseball established the Cy Young Award to annually honor the game's top pitchers.
Denton True "Cy" Young was born on March 29, 1867, near Gilmore, Ohio. The eldest of McKinzie and Nancy Young's five children, the future baseball great spent his formative years on the family farm, flinging balls at a target on the barn door during work breaks.
Young pitched and played infield for local teams, joining the semipro squad in Carrollton in 1888 and the New Athens team the following summer. During a tryout with the professional Canton club of the Tri-State League in 1890, Young threw a ball so hard it smashed the grandstand boards. The Canton catcher quipped that it looked like a cyclone had done the damage, and the gangly pitcher became known as "Cyclone" until it was shortened to his familiar nickname.
Young recorded 15 wins and 15 losses for Canton until the Tri-State League disbanded in July 1890. He was then sold to the Cleveland Spiders of the National League for $300 and the cost of a new suit.
Big League Baseball Career
Young's debut partial season with Cleveland produced mixed results, though he showed impressive stamina by starting and winning both games of a doubleheader at the end of the year. He emerged as a star by notching 27 victories in 1891, and the following year he led the NL with 36 wins and a 1.93 ERA.
Initially known for his blazing fastball, Young soon developed into a control artist who rarely walked a batter. Furthermore, exceptional conditioning allowed the 6'2" right-hander to remain healthy and highly productive for many years, resulting in career numbers that seem mind-boggling by contemporary standards.
Following nine seasons with Cleveland and two more with the St. Louis Perfectos, Young jumped to the Boston Red Sox of the upstart American League in 1901. His first season with Boston was arguably the best of his career, as he led the league with 33 wins, a 1.62 ERA and 158 strikeouts.
Young threw the first pitch of the modern World Series in 1903, eventually helping the Red Sox knock off the Pittsburgh Pirates in eight games. In 1904, he delivered the first perfect game in AL history during a stretch in which he compiled a still-record 25 1/3 consecutive innings without surrendering a hit.
After amassing 21 wins and an amazing 1.26 ERA in 1908, Young spent 2 1/2 seasons with the Cleveland Naps before closing out his career with the Boston Rustlers in 1911. He finished with 511 victories, 316 losses, 7,356 innings pitched and 749 complete games, all far and away the most in big league history.
Retirement and Legacy
Young managed the Cleveland Green Sox of the Federal League in 1913, but he mainly spent the first two decades of his retirement with his wife, Robba, at their farm in Peoli, Ohio. In 1937, he was among the second class of players elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
After Robba passed away in 1933, Young lived with friends on a farm near Newcomerstown, Ohio, until his death on November 4, 1955. The following year, Commissioner Ford Frick announced the creation of the Cy Young Award to annually honor the best pitcher in Major League Baseball, which was expanded to include the top pitcher of both the American and National Leagues in 1967.
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