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Cy Young - Baseball Legend

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An Introduction to the Legends of Baseball | Hank Aaron | Yogi Berra | Ty Cobb | Joe DiMaggio
Lou Gehrig | Rogers Hornsby | Mickey Mantle | Willie Mays | Stan Musial | Cal Ripken Jr
Jackie Robinson | Pete Rose | Babe Ruth | Ted Williams | Cy Young | The Baseball Hall of Fame

The gaunt figure lost its uncouthness as he warmed to his work, and the ball shot to the catcher's thin glove with a crack that betokend even greater speed than the flash of the sphere in the sunlight.
- Description of Cy Young's first game by The Sporting News.

Cy Young is one of the immortal legends of baseball pitching. He was one of the best of his era, with a strong fastball attributed to doing rail-splitting work before going into baseball. He came from Eastern Ohio, starting in 1890 as Denton True Young but was nicknamed Cy for his cyclone-like fastball by a young catcher for an Ohio minor league team. He was also noted for his appearance, which was not that of a normal baseball player. He had dangly arms1 and baggy uniform. In his early days, crowds would laugh at his appearance at the beginning of the game, but would usually come round to applauding him by the time it was over.

His career lasted for 22 strong, consistent years. He threw three no-hitters one of which was a perfect game, which is something that even the best pitchers can't claim. His records include most innings pitched - 7,356, most complete games - 751, most wins - 5112, most losses - 313 and the only pitcher to throw no-hitters in two different centuries.

His pitching skills stretched beyond being able to throw a good fastball. He usually had excellent control, and rarely walked a player3. When he first started, his pitches could be wild, but the wild pitching would change quickly. In his early days, the pitcher's box was 50 feet (15.24 metres) from home plate, this changed during his career to the present distance, 60 ft 6 ins (18.44 metres), with the ball thrown from a mound, and it helped him gain his now legendary control of his pitches.

His Life and Career

Born 29 March, 1867 in Gilmore, Ohio, the son of a Civil War veteran, Young learned his trade at a time when only underhand pitching was permitted, pitchers wore no gloves, a walk was six balls, and foul balls didn’t count as strikes.

Young's first professional team was Canton in the Tri-State League. He registered a 15-15 record and was offered the majors for $500. The Cleveland Spiders were the only team interested.

Cy Young made his pitching debut for the Spiders on 6 August, 1890. In his debut he pitched well, winning the game 8-1. There was almost immediately a buzz around the new pitcher and the team that had taken a gamble and given Young the position.

In 1896, Young threw wins in an eight game streak. It helped keep the Spiders in first place, and brought even more attention to the young Ohio pitcher. He would top this with a 12 game streak in 1901.

In 1897, he pitched his first no-hitter against Cincinnati to bring a 6-0 win for his team. In this game, he only walked one hitter. In 1899, he moved from Cleveland to St Louis Cardinals along with the franchise and in 1901, he changed teams to the Boston Red Sox in the new American League, for a 600 dollar raise. He led the league in victories in each of its first three seasons. He also pitched in the first ever World Series4, in 1903, and won two games for the victorious Red Sox.

His second no hitter in 1904 against Philadelphia was a perfect game. He did not allow a single base runner. Apparently, since he concentrated so hard on the game, the fact that he threw a perfect game had to be pointed out to him. His perfect game came during an amazing streak of 24 1/3 innings without allowing a hit, from 25 April to 11 May.

During the 1907 season, he managed the Boston team for six games, winning 3 for a .500 managerial record. In 1908, he accomplished his third no hitter at age 41, and only allowed one base runner.

About seven years after he moved to the American league Red Sox, the Boston Post sponsored a Cy Young day on 13 August, 1908. This was the first individual celebration day, which has become an honour for many great players since. But there has never been another quite like this one, all American League activity was suspended for the day so that the All-Star team could honour the veteran pitcher by playing the Red Sox in a exhibition game at the old Huntington Avenue Grounds. The park was jammed with fans and over 10,000 had to be turned away. In 1911, Young retired with an outstanding record.

In 1937, Cy Young was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

A year after his death in 1955, his name was immortalised in the Cy Young award. The award is given to the best pitchers of each league, and is regarded as the most coveted prize for any pitcher. This award is voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Career Statistics

Hitting Statistics

Although he did not focus on hitting, his hitting record is respectable.

GamesAt-BatsHitsDoublesTriplesHome RunsRunsRBIBatting AverageStolen Bases
   918  2,960623     87    35      18 325291        .210      29

Pitching Statistics

WinsLossesGames PlayedGames StartedComplete GamesShutoutsInningsWalksStrike Outs
  511   316        906        815        749    76 7,356 1,217    2,803

1Cy didn't do practice pitching in Spring Training. In fact, he'd pitch as little as possible unless it was a game. Perhaps this is to blame for his dangly arms?2He is almost 100 wins ahead of the next best record.3In fact, he averaged walking only one player per game, which is a notable achievement.4He threw the first pitch in modern World Series history.

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