Cy Young Biography

Cy Young was a former Major League Baseball pitcher who is the all-time leader in wins with 511. During his 22-year career, Young set a number of MLB records, including innings pitched (7,335), games started (815), complete games (749) and losses (316). Young pitched three no-hitters in his career, including a perfect game, considered to be the first in the era of modern baseball. Young was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937. In honor of Young's career, the Cy Young Award was created in 1956 to recognize baseball's best pitcher.

Early Years

Denton True "Cy" Young was born on March 29, 1857, in Gilmore, Ohio to McKinzie Young Jr. and Nancy Miller. The oldest of five children, Young grew up as a farm boy and completed his schooling after the sixth grade in order to help his family out.

Young played for many amateur baseball leagues during his youth, including a "semi-pro" Carrollton team in 1888. Young pitched and played second base. After the season, Young received an offer to play for the minor league Canton team, which started Young's professional career.

Professional Career

Minor league career

Cy Young's professional baseball career started close to home with a minor league baseball team in Canton, Ohio. During his tryout for the Tri-State League, Young earned the nickname "Cyclone" for his overpowering fastball that damaged the fences he was throwing at. His nickname was eventually shortened to "Cy."

Cleveland Spiders (1890-1901)

The Cleveland Spiders of the National League signed Cy Young in 1890. In his major league debut, Young pitched a shutout for the Spiders. To close out the season, Young pitched and won both games of a doubleheader against the Philadelphia Phillies. During his rookie season, Young went 9-7 with a 3.47 ERA. His win total jumped to 27 the following season and was the start of a stretch that Young won at least 19 games in 14 consecutive seasons.

The National League moved the pitching mound and the back line back five feet, putting the pitcher 60 feet, 6 inches from the batter. Prior to this move, the pitcher stood only 50 feet from the batter. Young and other young hard throwers were the reasons for the change. But the extra 10 feet didn't see to faze Young. Arguably Young's best season came in 1892 with a 36-12 record, 1.93 ERA and nine shutouts.

In 1895, the Spiders faced the Baltimore Orioles in the Temple Cup, which was the World Series of its time. Behind three wins from Young, the Spiders won the Cup, 4-1. During the series, Young developed a "slow ball," which would eventually be known as a "changeup," to cut down stress and wear and tear on his arm.

Young threw his first no-hitter in 1897 against the Cincinnati Reds, but the milestone was not without controversy. During the game, the Spiders committed four errors, one of which was originally ruled as a hit. During the game, the Spiders third baseman sent a note to the press box explaining that he made an error and the hit was overturned.

Spiders owner Frank Robison bought the St. Louis Browns in 1899 and changed the name to the Perfectos. A majority of the Spiders roster, including Young, was transferred to the Perfectos before the start of the season. Young was a member of the Perfectos for two seasons before leaving for the American League.

Boston Americans (1901-08)

Cy Young signed with the Boston Americans in 1901 as the American League tried to compete on the same level as the National League. He left his impact on the American League in his first season with Boston, going 33-10 with a 1.62 ERA and 158 strikeouts, winning the Triple Crown for pitchers.

Off the field, Young served as the pitching coach for Harvard University in 1902 despite never attending junior high or high school. In 1903, Young joined the staff of Mercer University baseball program, and the Bears won the state championships between 1903-1905.

The Americans competed in the first modern World Series in 1903 against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Young pitched in four of the eight games, finishing the series with a 2-1 record and a 1.85 ERA. At the plate, Young had just one hit but drove in three runs. Boston defeated Pittsburgh to win the World Series.

Young threw the first perfect game in American League history in 1904 after Philadelphia Athletics pitcher Rube Waddell challenged the pitcher following a one-hit performance against Boston. The 27th and final out recorded by Young was against Waddell, who flied out. Young's perfect game was a part of a stretch where he didn't allow a hit for 24 1/3 innings, a Major League record that still stands today. Young would also pitch 45 consecutive scoreless innings.

Showing signs of declining, Young lead the American League in losses with 21 during the 1906 season. In 1908, at the age of 41, Young became the oldest pitcher to throw a no-hitter, his third of his career. The record stood until Nolan Ryan pitched a no-hitter at 43 with the Texas Rangers.

Cleveland Naps (1909-10)

Cy Young was traded to the Cleveland Naps in 1909. At the age of 42, Young went 19-15 with a 2.26 ERA and 30 complete games. On July 19, 1910, Young became the first pitcher to win 500 games. The Naps released Young in 1911, allowing him to sign with the Boston Nationals and finish his career in the city of Boston.

Boston Nationals (1911)

Young recorded his last win, the 511th in his career, in a 1-0 shutout victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. He retired after the 1911 season. For his career, Young holds the Major League record for wins (511), innings pitched (7,335), games started (815), complete games (749) and losses (316).

Post-playing career

Cy Young returned home to his farm in Peoli, Ohio in 1912 after his retirement from baseball. Young was a regular at baseball events and did odd jobs for income following the death of his wife, Robba, in 1933. An 88-year-old Young died Nov. 4, 1955, at his home in Newcomerstown, Ohio.

Legacy

Young was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937 and was one of the first athletes to donate mementos to Cooperstown.

In honor of the pitcher's career, the Commissioner of Baseball, Ford Frick, introduced the Cy Young Award in 1956, which was for baseball's single best pitcher. After Frick retired in 1967, the new Commissioner of Baseball, William Eckert, changed the format and handed out awards to the best pitcher in both the American and National League.