They say that records are made to be broken, but some will stand the test of time.  Cy Young’s record of 511 career wins is the most unbreakable record in all of sports.

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Denton True Young was born in Gilmore, Ohio—a tiny farming town 100 miles south of Cleveland and 100 miles west of Pittsburgh—on March 29, 1867.  He was the eldest of five children born to McKinzie Young, Jr. and Nancy Mottmiller.  Called “Dent” in his early years, Young dropped out of school after sixth grade to help on the family farm.  After pitching and playing second base for a semi-pro team in 1888, Young tried out for Canton in the Tri-State League, nearly “tearing the boards off the grandstand” with his fastball.  His pitches damaged fences as if they’d been hit by a cyclone—causing reporters to refer to him as “Cy,” which became his lifelong nickname.  In 1890, Young signed with the Cleveland Spiders, who had moved from the American Association to the National League the previous year.

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Between 1891 and 1896, the 6’2”, 210-pound right-hander won 186 games, averaging 31 victories a year.  In 1901, he joined the Boston Americans [later Red Sox], leading the AL in wins, strikeouts and ERA to win pitching’s Triple Crown.  Two years later, he won two World Series games to help Boston capture the championship.  On Cinco de Mayo 1904, Young pitched the first perfect game of the 20th Century, a day that he considered his “greatest day in baseball.”  He pitched three career no-hitters, the last coming in 1908, making him the oldest man in baseball history [41 years, three months] to toss a “no-no,” a record that stood 82 years until Nolan Ryan [44 years] surpassed him in 1991.  Young led the league in wins five times and was second two more times.  He twice led the league in ERA and was second three other times.  Cy Young won 36 games in 1892 and was in the top ten in the AL in innings-pitched for 19 straight years.  In 14 of those seasons, he was in the top five.  Mr. Young won 21 games at age 40 and again at 41.  He earned his final victory—a 1-0 shutout of the Pittsburgh Pirates, on October 6, 1911, and left the game at age 45.

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In February 1902, Cy Young—a sixth-grade dropout—served as pitching coach for Harvard University during the spring.  In the three springs that followed, he coached Mercer University to the Georgia state championship.

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Denton Young left a legacy that will never be matched.  Several of his records are unreachable, including 511 career wins, nearly 100 more than Walter “Big Train” Johnson [Daily Dose, August 7].  Young pitched 7,356 innings in his 22-year career, over 1,300 more than Pud Galvin, who is next on that list.  Put another way, Young’s innings-pitched lead over Galvin equates to 150 complete games.  Young started 815 games [42 more than Nolan Ryan] and completed 749 of them, outpacing Galvin, who is second on the list, by over 100 games.  In 2015, two pitchers in all of MLB won 20 games.  The year before, three accomplished that feat and in 2013 only one pitcher reached that mark.  If a player today were to win 20 games a season twenty-five times, he would still not catch Cy Young.  “The Chief” won more than 20 games on 15 occasions and had five 30-win seasons.  Young had exceptional control and was a workhorse who avoided injury. “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…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.”  After retiring, Mr. Young lived on a friend’s farm, performing odd jobs.  By 1940, his only source of income was stock dividends of $ 300 per year [$5,068 today].  Cy Young was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937 and died in 1955 at age 88.  The following year, MLB introduced the Cy Young Award, given annually to the best pitcher in each league.  Roger Clemons, who is tied with Young for most wins [192] in Boston Red Sox history, has won the award a record seven times.  In 1999, Cy Young was named to the MLB All-Century Team.

 

On this date in 1912, Cy Young retired from Major League Baseball.

“If you had a pill that would guarantee a pitcher twenty wins, but might take five years off his life, he’d take it.”


– Former Major League pitcher Jim Bouton, in his classic book, Ball Four

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