Denton True "Cy" Young (March 29, 1867 – November 4, 1955) was an American Major League Baseball pitcher. During his 22-year baseball career, he pitched from 1890-1911 for five different teams. Young was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937. One year after Young's death, the Cy Young Award was created to honor the previous season's best pitcher.
Young established numerous pitching records, some of which have stood for a century. Young compiled 511 wins, 94 ahead of Walter Johnson, who is second on the list of most wins in Major League history.
In addition to wins, Young still holds the Major League records for most career innings pitched (7,355), most career games started (815), and most complete games (749). He also retired with 316 losses, the most in MLB history. Young's 76 career shutouts are fourth all-time. He also won at least 30 games in a season five times, with ten other seasons of 20 or more wins. In addition, Young pitched three no-hitters, including the third perfect game in baseball history, first in baseball's "modern era". In 1999, 88 years after his final Major League appearance and 44 years after his death, editors at The Sporting News ranked Cy Young 14th on their list of "Baseball's 100 Greatest Players". That same year, baseball fans named him to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.
Young's career started in 1890 with the Cleveland Spiders. After eight years with the Spiders, Young was moved to St. Louis in 1899. After two years there, Young jumped to the newly-created American League, joining the Boston franchise. He was traded back to Cleveland in 1909, before spending the final two months of his career with the Boston Rustlers. After his retirement, Young went back to his farm in Ohio, where he stayed until his death at age 88 in 1955.
Young retired with 511 career wins. His win total set the record for most career wins by a pitcher. At the time, Pud Galvin had the second most career wins with 364. Walter Johnson, then in his fourth season, finished his career with 417 wins and, as of 2011, is second on the list. In 1921, Johnson broke Young's career record for strikeouts.
Cy Young's career is seen as a bridge from baseball's earliest days to its modern era; he pitched against stars such as Cap Anson, already an established player when the National League was first formed in 1876, as well as against Eddie Collins, who played until 1930. When Young's career began, pitchers delivered the baseball underhand and fouls were not counted as strikes. The pitcher's mound was not moved back to its present position of 60 feet 6 inches (18.44 m) until Young's fourth season; he did not wear a glove until his sixth season.
A photo of Young taken in 1908 was the source for a painting that was displayed in the Baseball Hall of Fame.Young led his league in wins five times (1892, 1895, and 1901–1903), finishing second twice. His career high was 36 in 1892. He had fifteen seasons with twenty or more wins, two more than the runners-up, Christy Mathewson and Warren Spahn. Young won two ERA titles during his career, in 1892 (1.93) and in 1901 (1.62), and was three times the runner-up. Young's earned run average was below 2.00 six times, but this was not uncommon during the dead-ball era. Although Young threw over 400 innings in each of his first four full seasons, he did not lead his league until 1902. He had 40 or more complete games nine times. Young also led his league in strikeouts twice (with 140 in 1896, and 158 in 1901), and in shutouts seven times.Young led his league in fewest walks per nine innings thirteen times and finished second one season. Only twice in his 22-year career did Young finish lower than 5th in the category. Although the WHIP ratio was not calculated until well after Young's death, Young was the retroactive league leader in this category seven times and was second or third another seven times. Cy Young is tied with Roger Clemens for the most career wins by a Boston Red Sox pitcher. They each won 192 games while with the franchise.
Particularly after his fastball slowed, Young relied upon his control. Young was once quoted as saying, "Some may have thought it was essential to know how to curve a ball before anything else. Experience, to my mind, teaches to the contrary. Any young player who has good control will become a successful curve pitcher long before the pitcher who is endeavoring to master both curves and control at the same time. The curve is merely an accessory to control." In addition to his exceptional control, Young was also a workhorse who avoided injury. For nineteen consecutive years, from 1891 through 1909, Cy Young was in his leagues' top ten for innings pitched; in fourteen of the seasons, he was in the top five. Not until 1900, a decade into his career, did Young pitch two consecutive incomplete games. By habit, Young restricted his practice throws in spring training. "I figured the old arm had just so many throws in it," said Young, "and there wasn't any use wasting them." Young once described his approach before a game:
"I never warmed up ten, fifteen minutes before a game like most pitchers do. I'd loosen up, three, four minutes. Five at the outside. And I never went to the bullpen. Oh, I'd relieve all right, plenty of times, but I went right from the bench to the box, and I'd take a few warm-up pitches and be ready. Then I had good control. I aimed to make the batter hit the ball, and I threw as few pitches as possible. That's why I was able to work every other day."
Line-Up for Yesterday
Y is for Young
The magnificent Cy;
People batted against him,
But I never knew why.
— Ogden Nash, Sport magazine (January 1949)By the time of his retirement, Young's control had faltered. Young had also gained weight. In three of his last four years, he was the oldest player in the league.
In 1956, about one year after Young's death, the Cy Young Award was created. The first award was given to Brooklyn's Don Newcombe. Originally, it was a single award covering the whole of baseball. The honor was divided into two Cy Young Awards in 1967, one for each league.
On September 23, 1993, a statue dedicated to him was unveiled by Northeastern University on the site of the Red Sox's original stadium, the Huntington Avenue Grounds. It was there that Young had pitched the first game of the 1903 World Series, as well as the first perfect game in the modern era of baseball. A home plate-shaped plaque next to the statue reads:
"On October 1, 1903 the first modern World Series between the American League champion Boston Pilgrims (later known as the Red Sox) and the National League champion Pittsburgh Pirates was played on this site. General admission tickets were fifty cents. The Pilgrims, led by twenty-eight game winner Cy Young, trailed the series three games to one but then swept four consecutive victories to win the championship five games to three .