Cy Young was raised on a farm in eastern Ohio and he was pretty green when it came to the big leagues. When the pitcher left home he was known as Dent Young, Before long, he was nicknamed Cy, as in Cyclone, because of his blinding fastball.
Young's first stop on the road to national acclaim was Canton in the Tri-State League. The rookie compiled a 15-15 record and soon was being offered the majors for $500. Only the Spiders were willing to take the gamble. Before long a national sports weekly recorded: "Young, the new pitcher of the Cleveland club, is a big, strong countryman who was a rail-splitter before he played ball. He is said to be speedier than Hutchinson (Bill Hutchinson of Chicago) and has a drop ball that is a killer."
During a 22-year career that produced 511 triumphs, Cy reached or topped the 20-victory mark sixteen times and exceeded the 30-win plateau five times. Three of his victories were no-hitters, the first a 6-0 decision over Cincinnati in 1897 in which Young walked one batter. Cy's second no-hitter was a masterpiece. In 1904, he defeated Rube Waddell and the Philadelphia A's, 3-0, without permitting a base runner. The right-hander concentrated so intently on the job at hand that he did not realize he had pitched the perfect game until outfielder Chick Stahl presented him with the last ball of the game. Young was 41 in 1908 when he hurled his third gem in an 8-0 triumph over New York. Young, who aided his own cause with three hits, allowed only one baserunner on a walk.
Cy moved with the Spiders franchise to St. Louis in 1899. He was earning the National League's maximum salary of $2,400 a year and was in a receptive mood when Ben Johnson, forming the American League as a new major circuit, offered him a $600-a-year raise to jump to the Boston Red Sox in 1901. Cy accepted.
For all his accomplishments, Young's most memorable day was Aug. 13, 1908, when the Boston Post sponsored a "Cy Young Day," unlike any other celebration before or since. All American League activity was suspended for the day so that the All-Star team could honor the veteran pitcher by meeting the Red Sox in an exhibition game at the old Huntington Avenue Grounds. The gates opened and within an hour, 20,000 fans had jammed the park. Another 10,000 were turned away. Young, who pitched the first two innings against the All-Stars, was so overcome by emotion that, "he could make no response to the presentation speeches."
Cy was a member of the Braves in 1911 when, at 44, he pitched his last game. He set some pitching records that may never be broken: most wins (511), complete games (751) and innings pitched (7,356).
Among his other feats was a 2.63 earned run average in an era when starting pitchers were rarely relieved. Young struck out two batters for every one he walked and led the league in "fewest walks per nine innings" sixteen times.
How did he last so long? "I had a good arm and legs," he explained. "When I would go to spring training, I would never touch a ball for three weeks. Just would do a lot of walking and running. I never did any unnecessary throwing. I figured the old arm had just so many throws in it, and there wasn't any use wasting them. Like for instance, 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."
Young was a popular ambassador for baseball until his final breath.
Young returned to his native eastern Ohio where, seated in his favorite armchair and gazing out across the familiar pasture lands, he suffered a fatal heart attack in 1955 at the age of 88.
The game has not forgotten him. Each league's pitching honor is called the Cy Young Award.
Today, it is the most coveted award for a pitcher. -- From the official Cy Young website.