On November 4, 1955, America lost one of the all time sports legends – Denton True "Cy" Young.
Young’s influence on the American Pastime included his being immortalized one year after his death by having the annual Cy Young Award given to the outstanding Major League pitcher each season.
Young’s own career spanned the time of baseball’s metamorphosis into what has become the modern era of professional baseball.
Young was born into a farming family in Gilmore, Ohio, in 1867 and was known as “Dent” to friends at school. Unfortunately, he was forced to quit his formal education in the sixth grade to help his family on the farm.
When he wasn’t tending livestock and crops, young “Dent” found time to play with first an amateur baseball league and, by the age of 21, he was picked up by a semi-professional baseball team where he played second base and catcher, as well as taking turns at pitching. Young’s talent was noticeable and he soon received an offer to join the minor league based in Canton, Ohio. Before long, Young’s talent for throwing blazing fastballs earned him a new nickname. No longer known as “Dent” – his new nickname was “Cyclone” which, overtime, was shortened to just “Cy”.
In 1890, Cy Young was picked up by the major league team known as the Cleveland Spiders where he had an impressive rookie season. Those early years of baseball saw many changes in rules including moving from underhand to overhand pitching, lengthening the distance between the pitcher’s mound to home plate to 60 feet, and the calling of foul balls as strikes.
Young’s fierceness on the mound and endurance made him a fan favorite and a huge asset to the Spiders when they faced the Baltimore Orioles in a tournament which was a precursor to the modern era’s World Series. Fighting for the 1895 Temple Cup, Young introduced a new pitching move which he called a “slow ball”. Today, Cy’s pitch is commonly known as the “changeup” and helped lead his team to a four to one victory.
Cy Young’s career as a major league pitcher would include countless accomplishments on many teams. He pitched in the first ever World Series in 1903 as a member of the American League’s Boston Pilgrims (later to become the Boston Red Sox) against the National League’s Pittsburgh Pirates. Young’s sensational efforts on the mound led the Pilgrims to become the first World Championship team.
Cy Young is also credited with pitching the first perfect game in the modern era of professional baseball and helped to raise his reputation among generations of baseball fans. He is universally recognized as one of MLB’s all-time greatest players having established numerous pitching records and achieving accolades from sports writers, his fellow players, and legions of fans.
Even though Young himself had been forced to drop out of school in the 6th grade, he ironically became the pitching coach to students at Harvard University in 1902. A year later, Young coached the baseball team at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia.
Young retired from baseball in 1911 at the age of 45. He had racked up an amazing 511 wins in a remarkable career and was honored with induction into the Baseball Hall of fame in 1937. Additionally, he was one of the first players to donate his sports mementoes to the Hall of Fame.
A member of Mystic Tie Masonic Lodge No. 194 Dennison, Ohio, Cy Young spent most of his retirement living on an Ohio farm with his childhood sweetheart and wife, Ruth, until her death in 1933. Unlike the millions made by sports stars today, Young lived simply and frugally until his passing at the age of 88.