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.
By Glen Sparks
Kenny Rogers tossed a perfect game on this date in 1991. The Texas Rangers left-hander struck out eight and threw 98 pitches in setting down all 27 California Angels hitters at the Ballpark in Arlington.
Rogers’ perfecto was the 12th in the major leagues since 1900. The Montreal Expos’ Dennis Martinez threw his perfect game, the 11th of the modern era, exactly three years before Rogers. He beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 at Dodger Stadium.
Now, 21 perfect games have been thrown since 1900, the most recent by Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners on Aug. 15, 2012. July 28 is the only date that has two perfect games on its ledger. (May is the most popular month, seven.)
In honor of July 28 being a perfect day of sorts for perfect games, I’m posting a perfect trivia package. You can read about some of the greatest-pitched games in MLB history. You’ll find 21 bullet points below, in honor of the 21 complete games of the modern era (1900 and after).
- The Boston Americans’ Cy Young threw the first post-1900 perfect game. He beat the Philadelphia A’s 3-0 on May 5, 1904, at the Huntington Avenue Grounds in Boston.
- The Chicago White Sox’ Charlie Robertson threw his perfect game in just his fifth career appearance, April 30, 1922. Robertson’s won-loss percentage of .380 (49-80) is the lowest of any perfect-game pitcher.
- Jim Bunning’s perfect game on June 21, 1964, for the Philadelphia Phillies was the first of the modern era in the National League.
- Sandy Koufax and Matt Cain recorded the most strikeouts in a perfect game, 14. Addie Joss recorded the fewest, three. (Ed Walsh struck out 15 for the Chicago White Sox that day against Joss’s Cleveland Naps.)
- Six Hall of Famers have thrown perfect games in the modern era (Young, Joss, Jim Bunning, Koufax, Jim “Catfish” Hunter and Randy Johnson).
- Young, of course, has the most wins of any perfect-game pitcher, 511. Philip Humber has the fewest, 16 and counting).
- The New York Yankees’ Don Larsen threw the most famous perfect game in MLB history, Oct. 8, 1956, in Game 2 of the World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers. He went with a no-windup delivery throughout the game. Talk about a bounceback start. Larsen went just 1 2/3 innings in his Game 2 start and gave up one hit, four walks, and four unearned runs.
- Baseball went more than 34 years between Robertson’s perfect game (April 30, 1922) and Larsen’s (Oct. 8, 1956). Conversely, baseball waited less than three weeks between Dallas Braden’s perfect game (May 9, 2010) and Roy Halladay’s (May 29, 2010).
- Records do not indicate how many pitches that Young hurled in his perfect game. Of the others, Joss threw the least, 74, and Cain threw the most, 125.
- Koufax has the most no-hitters of any of the pitchers, four. (In case you’re wondering, the fewest walks that Nolan Ryan gave up in any one of his seven no-hitters was two. He did that three times.)
- Talk about pressure. Six perfect games have ended 1-0. Four have ended 2-0. Cain’s game was the biggest blowout, 10-0 against the Houston Astros.
- In Koufax’s perfect game, opposing pitcher Bob Hendley of the Chicago Cubs gave up just one hit in his complete-game effort, to Lou Johnson in the seventh inning. The Dodgers scored their lone run in the fifth inning. Johnson walked, went to second on a sacrifice bunt, stole third and scored on an error by Cubs catcher Chris Krug.
- Bunning threw his no-hitter on Father’s Day (June 21, 1964). Braden threw his on Mother’s Day (May 9, 2010).
- Hunter was the youngest pitcher to throw a modern-day no-hitter, 22 years, 30 days. Johnson was the oldest, 40 years, 256 days.
- Tom Browning’s perfect game on Sept. 16, 1988, came against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team that went on to the win the World Series, the only time that has happened.
- Mike Witt threw his perfect game on the last day of the regular season for the California Angels.
- David Wells graduated from Point Loma High School in San Diego, the same high school as Larson.
- They could swing the bat, too. Hunter (3 RBI), Bunning (2) and Young (1) all drove in runs in their perfect games.
- 2012 was a perfect year. Three pitchers threw perfect games in 2012—Humber (Apri 21), Cain (June 13) and Felix Hernandez (Aug. 15).
- Pitchers have thrown three perfect games against the Tampa Rays (also, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays). They also have thrown three against the Dodgers, who have been around a little longer.
- The Yankees have the most perfect games (Larson, Wells and David Cone).
The 1910 baseball season in brief
By Glen Sparks
- President William Howard Taft is the first chief executive to throw out the season’s first pitch. Taft makes his historic toss at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C.
- Cy Young wins his 500th game, for the Cleveland Naps on July 19. He goes on to win 11 more games in his storied career and is elected to the Hall of Fame in 1937.
- Rickwood Field opens Aug. 18 in Birmingham, Ala. Nearly 10,000 fans watch the Birmingham Barons beat the Montgomery Climbers 3-2. Rickwood remains the oldest surviving baseball park in the United States and is still the home field for the Barons, the Chicago White Sox’ AA affiliate.
- The great Walter Johnson, ace of the Washington Senators, finishes atop the American League in strikeouts (313), complete games (38) and innings pitched (373). The Big Train goes 417-279 in his career, leads the American League in strikeouts 12 times and earns MVP honors twice. He is elected to the Hall of Fame’s first class, in 1936.
- The Philadelphia Phillies’ Sherry Magee tops the National League in batting average (.331), slugging percentage (.507), RBI (123), runs (110) and total bases (263). The left-fielder also finishes second in doubles (39) and triples (17).
- Future Hall of Famer Sam Crawford of the Detroit Tigers leads the American League in triples (19), RBI (120) and runs produced (198). Crawford joins the Hall of Fame in 1957.
- The Boston Red Sox’ Jack Stahl rips 10 home runs to lead the American League. Fred Beck of the Boston Doves, the forerunner of today’s Atlanta Braves, and Fred Schulte of the Chicago Cubs lead the National League in round-trippers, also with 10.
- The St. Louis Browns compile baseball’s worst record, 47-107, and fall 57 games behind the Philadelphia A’s in the American League. The Doves set the mark for futility in the National League, going 53-100 and finishing 50 ½ games behind the Cubs.
- The A’s beat the Cubs 4-1 in the World Series. The A’s outscore their opponent 35-11; Jack Coombs wins three games in the Series after winning 31 in the regular season with a 1.30 ERA.