We all know Cy Young as an award given to the best pitchers of the American and National League every year. The award is given to a pitcher that has overcome expectations and has been the best of the year. Some pitchers who have won this award are some of today's greats, such as CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee, and Johan Santana.
The award has been given out at the end of each season since 1956. But the man this award was named after was an old country boy, Cy Young. Young was a phenomenon in his era and holds the records for his record-breaking 511 wins, innings pitched, complete games, and games started. All of which are still records that are leading all other pitchers by a landslide. But I'd rather discuss his claim to fame other than the stats.
Young was born in Gilmore, Ohio on March 29th, 1867. His real name was Denton True and was the oldest of three other siblings. He grew up on the family farm and had dropped out of school at a young age to aid his parents on the farm. In his farming days, he was nicknamed "Farmboy Young."
Throughout his life, Young grew up with little. He was really lower middle-class and was usually clothed in dirty "rags." He always had a knack for pitching as he had joined a Triple-A team in 1889 and was a phenom on the mound. Young had been tagged with the nickname "Cyclone" by the media due to his fastball's speed. The media then just called him "Cy" and Young took that name with him all the way to the Hall of Fame.
One year later, Young was called up to the Cleveland Spiders in which he was instantly recognized as one of the hardest throwing pitchers in the league. He finished the 1890 season on a strong note by winning both games in a day-night doubleheader.
Later in Young's career, he had revolutionized a new pitch that he referred to called the "slowball," later known as the changeup, which today is one of the most well known pitches in all of baseball.
1892 was Young's true breakout year as he lead the National League in wins and earned run average. In 1896, he threw his first no-hitter and he had been a phenomenon on the mound until his move to St. Louis in 1899. There he had two good seasons until his move to the Boston American's in 1901.
In 1901, Young was paid only $3,500 dollars to jump ship to the Americans, and Young led them to the first ever World Series and defeated the Pirates. In Boston, Young had thrown two no-hitters and his third was at the age of 41. Young was later traded back to Cleveland to finish up his career.
His last career victory was a 1-0 shutout and in his last start ever, he had been pretty banged up. He retired after the 1911 season.
Throughout his career, so many wondered how a man like him could be so consistent through his career and he seemed to only get better with age. Here is a quote regarding that question:
"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."
He did eventually lose control of his pitches, but that was in the last two years of his career. "Farmboy Young," then returned to his roots in Ohio where he worked on his farm and eventually died there in 1955 at the age of 88, which was really old for the time span he lived in and even today.
This man was nominated into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937 winning over 70 percent of his votes. Young went in as a member of Boston as he was a man of honor and pride in this era.
I think we can all learn something from Cy Young. He was an old country boy with a bad looking future ahead of him. It may have been pure talent for him, but Young was never a quitter and gave 100 percent to his team. The so-called "Rube in the field" was baseball's country boy and a real man.
In baseball, he set so many records and even had a prestigious award named after him, but he was an example of someone who never gave up on his dreams. He had fulfilled his dreams and left the game with a smile on his face.
This story is not only relevant to Red Sox fans, Cleveland fans, or baseball fans. This is a story of a regular old country boy who had dreams to be a big star and live for the moment. The message in his life is to just never give up.
Cy Young, March 1867-November 1955
Credit to Wikipedia for assorted facts and quote. This was a DJ Rallo original article, but supported facts are on Wikipedia.com