Hall of Fame: Cy Young
Name: Denton True “Cy” Young
Born: March 29, 1867
Died: November 4, 1955
Teams: Cleveland Spiders (1890-98), St. Louis Perfectos/Cardinals (1899-1900), Boston Americans/Red Sox (1901-08), Cleveland Naps (1909-11), Boston Rustlers (1911)
Manager: Boston Red Sox (1907)
Before there was the Cy Young Award there was Cy Young, so dominant during his era that several of his records have stood for over a century. What’s more, many of them aren’t even close. With 511 wins, Young is 94 ahead of contemporary fireballer Walter “The Big Train” Johnson, who retired in 1927 with 417. Young also still holds the MLB records for innings pitched (7,356), career starts (815) and complete games (749).
Born in Gilmore, Ohio, Young’s formal education ended after sixth grade so he could help out on the family farm. He continued to play in amateur baseball leagues, including a semi-professional team in Carrollton, Ohio, where he pitched and played second base. After the season, Young began his professional career with the minor league team in Canton, where he earned the nickname “Cy” after reporters remarked that the fences he destroyed with his fastball looked like a cyclone had hit them.
Did You Know?
In 1956, the year after Young’s death, MLB Commissioner Ford Frick introduced the Cy Young Award to honor the pitcher. Originally given to the single best pitcher in MLB, the award was changed in 1967 to recognize one pitcher from both the American League and National League.
In addition to reigning as MLB’s all-time winningest pitcher, Young also holds the record for most career losses with 316.
Young pitched three no-hitters, including the third perfect game in baseball history and first in the modern era (post-1900).
During his early professional years, Cleveland Spiders catcher Chief Zimmer would often insert a piece of beefsteak inside his mitt to protect his hand from Young’s fastball.
In 1892, two years after Young’s professional debut, the National League moved its pitching position back five feet to 55 feet, 6 inches from home plate. It was moved back another five inches the following year, and sports journalist Rob Neyer wrote that the moves were spurred by the velocity with which pitchers like Cy Young, Amos Rusie and Jouett Meekin threw.
Young was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1937, his second year of eligibility.