Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Denton True Young (March 29, 1867 - November 4, 1955) was the pre-eminent baseball pitcher during the 1890s and 1900s. His nickname "Cy" is either short for "Cyclone" (since barns and fences supposedly showed cyclonic damage after encountering one of his pitches) or for a generic term of the time for a farmboy, similar to "Rube".
He was born in Gilmore, Ohio.
Young is generally considered one of the greatest pitchers of all time. Not only is he a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame (elected in 1937), but the Cy Young Award, the annual award given to the best major league pitchers in each league, is named in his honor.
Young set a career record for wins, 511, that will probably never be matched under current conditions. Today, most seasons produce few pitchers with more than 20 wins, at which pace a pitcher would have to pitch for more than 25 years to surpass the record. Young's great longevity means he also holds the record for the most losses, despite winning 62% of his decisions.
Young began his major league career in 1890 with the Cleveland Spiders and achieved stardom rapidly. He was one of the few star hurlers to maintain his level of success after the pitching mound was moved back to its present 60 feet 6 inches in 1893. He maintained that level for over two decades, playing for the St. Louis Perfectos in 1899 and 1900 (by which time they had become the Cardinals) before jumping to the new American League in 1902 with the Boston Americans, for whom he played till 1908. The Cleveland and St Louis ownership had essentially swapped teams by trading all the players and neither Cy nor his wife were comfortable in St Louis. He retired after the 1911 season, following 2 seasons with the Cleveland Naps and a year split between the Naps and the Boston Rustlers. His arm was as strong as ever, but, he told an interviewer, he couldn't field bunts as well as he once could, and "when the third baseman has to do my work for me, it's time to quit."
He pitched a perfect game on May 5, 1904, against Philadelphia. In later years, he considered this game his greatest day in baseball. It was part of an astonishing performance which resulted in a record for most consecutive scoreless innings and most consecutive no-hit innings, the latter a record that still stands.
Young's longevity is nearly unique -- the injury rate caused by pitching conditions at the turn of the century limited even the most talented to pitching careers that rarely lasted a single decade, let alone two. Pitchers regularly pitched entire games, there being no specialized relievers, and good pitchers were used hard. No modern pitcher ever pitches the number of innings many managed in those days. Only Nolan Ryan, Tommy John, and perhaps Satchel Paige primarily in the Negro Leagues have significantly surpassed Young's number of years pitched. On the other hand, it must be noted that pitchers of that era were expected to complete their games; in consequence, they paced themselves throughout the game and seldom threw as many hard pitches in the early and middle innings as today's pitchers. There was also little danger of home runs being hit and a pitcher could frequently simply throw the pitch down the center of the plate and let the batter hit the ball in play. These circumstances enabled the better pitchers of the day to put up astronomical totals (by modern standards) of complete games and innings pitched and of games won.
Cy Young died in Newcomerstown, Ohio.
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