Cy Young (March 29, 1867 - November 4, 1955) He was the pre-eminent baseball pitcher during the 1890s and 1900s. His nickname "Cy" is short for "Cyclone" (as he himself stated, since barns and fences supposedly showed tornadic damage after encountering one of his pitches) and because his fastball was blindingly fast.
He was born in Gilmore, Ohio, a tiny village near Newcomerstown, Ohio where Young was later raised. He also died in Newcomerstown, where the local park bears his name and a memorial to the pitcher.
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 pitcher in each league, is named in his honor. From 1956, the first full season after Young's death, until 1966, it was given to the best pitcher in baseball. Starting in 1967, it was given to the best in each league.
Young set a career records for wins and complete games, 511 and 749 respectively, which will almost certainly 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. His complete game's record will probably never be broken due to the development of relief pitching. Young's great longevity means he also holds the record for the most losses, despite winning 62f his decisions. His unreachable total was echoed one day, when, as he told a reporter many years after his retirement, a man walked up to him, seemed to recognize him, and asked, "Did you used to play baseball?" Young told the reporter that he told the man, "Mister, I won more games than you'll ever see."
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 1901 with the Boston Americans, for whom he played through 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, as the somewhat portly pitcher told an interviewer, he could not 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 retiered with 511 wins , almost 100 more than any other pitcher ever.
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 that 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.
In 1993, Northeastern University unveiled a statue of Young outside one of its athletic complexes, the Cabot Center. The statue stands at roughly the spot where stood the pitcher's mound of the Huntington Avenue Grounds, the home field of the Red Sox in Young's time.
In 1999, 88 years after his final major league appearance and 44 years after his death, he ranked Number 14 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was elected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team, even though he pitched in the last ten seasons of the preceding century.