Denton “Cy” Young (1867-1955)

Without a doubt the greatest player to throw a baseball was born on a farm near Gilmore, Ohio, almost 140 years ago. Denton Young retired from baseball in 1911 at the age of 44. No pitcher since then has ever come close to his win record. During his 22-year career, he compiled a record of sixteen 20-win seasons, including five seasons when he topped 30 wins. Three of his wins were no-hitters, the first in 1897 in which Young walked only one batter. Young’s second no-hitter was in 1904 when no hitter reached first base. He was 41 when he hurled his third no-hitter against New York.
Cy Young’s records may never be broken: most wins (511), complete games (751) and innings pitched (7,356). Even if you are not a baseball fan, you can not help admiring this man’s pitching accomplishments.
Dent Young was a big, strong farm boy when he joined the Canton team. His fastball earned him the nickname of “The Canton Cyclone” – soon shortened to “Cy”. The Cleveland Spiders (later the Indians) brought him up to the majors. By 1899 he was earning the National League’s maximum salary of $2,400 per year. Then he jumped to the American League in 1901 when they offered him a $600 raise. Cy Young played for the Boston Red Sox (1901-1908), the Cleveland Indians (1909 -1911) and the Boston Braves (1911). His philosophy was to never do any throwing in the bullpen and to throw as few pitches in the game as possible. That way he was able to work every other day.
Cy Young was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937. In 1955 he suffered a fatal heart attack on his farm in Newcomerstown, Ohio. The game of baseball has not forgotten him. A year after his death the
Cy Young Award was given to the single best pitcher in the major leagues. In 1967, the practice was expanded to honoring one pitcher in each league. Roger Clemens, another Ohio pitcher from Dayton, has won the award a record 7 times.
Recently I was traveling in east central Ohio on Interstate 77 and looking for some historical places to visit. My Rand McNally map showed that if I got off at exit 65 and traveled two and one half miles west to Newcomerstown I would find a memorial to Cy Young. I had heard the name and knew that he had been a baseball pitcher, but had no idea of his contributions to the game. Taking a short detour on Route 36, I found an Ohio Historical Marker next to a community baseball field. It had been erected in 2003 by the Ohio Bicentennial Commission and the Cleveland Indians. The marker contained the same baseball statistics listed above with one exception. It said, “In 1903 Cy Young won two games in the first modern World Series to help Boston win the championship.”
Cy once said, “All us Youngs could throw, I use to kill squirrels with a stone when I was a kid, and my granddad once killed a turkey buzzard on the fly with a rock.” Long after he retired he told a sports writer, “Gosh, all a kid has to do these days is spit straight and he gets forty thousand dollars to sign.” Yes, baseball has changed since Cy stood on the pitcher’s mound over a hundred years ago. Hot dogs now cost $3.50 each and you can sit in your living room and watch the entire game on television between the beer commercials. But there are two things that haven’t changed. All the umpires behind home plate are “blind as a bat” and the Chicago Cubs keep losing most of their games.