This Week in History: Baseball Star Pitcher Cy Young Was Born


Library Of Congress

Baseball star pitcher Cy Young was born on March 29, 1867. Young holds the one major American sports record that is likely never to be broken or even challenged. In a career that straddled two centuries, Young won 511 games in the major leagues. Only one other pitcher, Walter Johnson, has won as many as 400 games.

Young pitched in the major leagues for 22 seasons, from 1890 to 1911. He pitched in the first modern World Series in 1903, winning two games. Young pitched three no-hitters, one of them a perfect game. Throughout his career, Young demonstrated remarkable endurance. He pitched an astounding 7,356 innings. He won more than 20 games in 15 of his 22 seasons. Young won 30 or more games five times, from 1892 to 1902. He also lost 316 games, a major league career record that also is never likely to be approached.

Denton True Young was born outside Gilmore, Ohio. Young grew up on the family farm, where through hard work he developed strong arms, broad shoulders, a thick chest, and muscular legs. Young’s father wanted his son to become a farmer, but the young man started playing baseball in 1890 at the age of 23. Young picked up his nickname while trying out for the Canton, Ohio, minor league team. A catcher called him “as fast as a cyclone.” A sportswriter shortened it to “Cy” and the name lasted a lifetime and beyond.

After only half a season of minor league baseball, Young was pitching in the major leagues for the Cleveland Spiders of the National League. Young pitched for Cleveland for 9 years, winning 239 games. He played for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1899 and 1900 before moving to the newly established American League. He pitched for the Boston Pilgrims (later the Boston Red Sox) until 1909, when he joined the Cleveland Indians. His pitching career ended in 1911.

Young was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937. In 1956, major league baseball established the Cy Young Award, at first given annually to the single best pitcher in the major leagues. In 1967, the award was split to honor the best two pitchers in the National League and the American League. Young died at the age of 88 on Nov. 4, 1955.

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