Happy Birthday, “Cy”


By Glen Sparks

Denton True Young threw so hard that people nicknamed him “Cy,” short for Cyclone. Born on the farm in Gilmore, Ohio, on March 29, 1867, Cy Young made his major league debut Aug. 6, 1890, for the Cleveland Spiders. He tossed a three-hit shutout.

In an age of strong-willed ironmen, no one was tougher than Young. He won more games than anyone in baseball history (511), and he lost more games than anyone (316) over his 22 seasons. Young is nearly 100 wins ahead of the No. 2 guy on the all-time wins list, Walter Johnson (417 wins). The 6-foot-2-inch right-hander completed nearly 92 percent of his career starts.

Young retired at the end of the 1911 season. He put together one of the most extraordinary careers in the game’s history. Baseball writers voted him into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937. The great pitcher died in Ohio on Nov. 4, 1955, at the age of 88. One year later, baseball introduced the Cy Young Award, given out each season to the game’s best pitcher. (In 1967, each league began giving out a Cy Young Award.)

Poet Ogden Nash wrote this little ditty about Young for the January 1949 edition of Sport magazine.

Y is for Young

The magnificent Cy;

People batted against him,

But I never knew why.

Read more about Cy Young and his amazing time in baseball:

  • Young began his career with the Spiders (1890-98). He went from there to the St. Louis Perfectos/Cardinals (1899-90), the Boston Americans/Red Sox (1901-08), the Cleveland Naps/Indians (1909-11) and, finally, the Boston Rustlers/Braves (1911).
  • Young won at least 25 games in a season 12 times and at least 30 games five times. He won 93 games from 1901-03.
  • He started more games than anyone in baseball history (815) and completed more than anyone (749).
  • No one pitched more career innings than Young (7,356) or gave up as many hits (7,092). He topped the 400-inning mark five times and yielded 477 hits in 1896.
  • Young only made it through the sixth grade in school. That didn’t stop him from serving as pitching coach at Harvard University for a few months before the start of the 1902 campaign.
  • Baseball played the first modern World Series in 1903. The Boston Americans, winners of the American League pennant, went up against the National League champ Pittsburgh Pirates. Young, pitching in Game One for Boston, lost 7-3. He came back and won his next two games, posting a combined Series ERA of 1.85. The Americans won the best-of-nine match-up five games to three.
  • On May 5, 1904, Young tossed the first perfect game of the modern era (post-1900). Pitching for the Americans, he beat the Philadelphia A’s at Boston’s Huntington Avenue Grounds in front of 10, 267. Young, who threw three no-hitters in his career, struck out eight batters in a game that lasted one hour, 25 minutes. He beat the great Rube Waddell.
  • Young aged gracefully. He tossed his final no-hitter in 1908, three months after he turned 41. He was the oldest to throw a no-no until Nolan Ryan hurled one 82 years later at the age of 43.
  • The pitcher is tied with Roger Clemens for first on the all-time Red Sox wins list with 192. Clemens pitched 2,776 innings for Boston, and Young pitched 2,728.1 innings. Cy spent eight seasons spent the Red Sox; Clemens spent 13.
  • A control artist, Young topped his circuit in BB/9 innings 14 times and in K/BB ratio 11 times. He led the league in strikeouts twice.
  • This all-time great retired with a career WAR (Wins above Replacement, according to baseball-reference.com) of 168.4. He exceeded 10.0 in seven seasons and posted a career high of 14.1 in 1892 for Cleveland. He ranks second on the all-time list, just behind Babe Ruth (183.6).
  • In 1999, baseball named Young was named to its All-Century Team, a dream squad made up of great players from throughout the game’s history. Other pitchers on the team included Roger Clemens, Bob Gibson, Lefty Grove, Walter Johnson, Sandy Koufax, Christy Mathewson, Nolan Ryan, Warren Spahn and Cy Young.

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