Cy “Cyclone” Young
Cy Young, born Denton Young in 1867, was raised in a rural farm in Ohio. In his early teenage years, he began to play the game of baseball regularly and became good enough that he was able to sign with not one but two semi-professional teams in Ohio. He would play for these teams for a while and would reach the minor leagues in 1890, when he signed with a team from Canton, Ohio.
In these minor leagues and tryouts for the major leagues, he also received his nickname Cyclone (which was eventually shortened to Cy). It is rumored that this nickname came about due to his blistering speeds, as his fastballs would destroy fences and give the appearance of them being hit by actual cyclones. However, other sources claim that this nickname was given to him by one of his minor league catchers due to his pitching windup and fastball velocity.
Young showed promise in the MLB early. He started his career with the Cleveland Spiders, and by his third season there he led the National League in wins and ERA, winning 36 games and sporting an excellent ERA of 1.93. Cy Young would also spend part of his early career with St Louis, as the Robinson family, who owned both the St Louis Perfectos and the Cleveland Spiders, decided that they wanted him in St Louis to make the team more successful. He would play with St Louis until 1900.
Though Young would not win a world series in these first ten years of his career, he led the led the league in strikeout to walk ratio (SO/W) in six out his ten seasons and would lead the league in walks per 9 innings nine times.
In 1901, Cy Young signed with the Boston Americans of the new American League for a large $3500 contract. He proceeded to play with the Americans until 1909. Young would lead the league in wins in all three of his first seasons with the Americans, as well as winning the triple crown for leading the league in strikeouts, wins, and ERA.
In 1903, he won the first ever MLB World Series against the Pittsburgh Pirates. After this world series win, his prime would also reach an end, as in 1905 he had his first ever losing season (18-19), and in 1906 his winning percentage worsened, going 13-21. Though these numbers can also be attributed to the state of the Boston offense at that time period, it was clear that his best days as a pitcher were behind him.
In 1909, Young was traded back to Cleveland, where he would play until 1911. In 1911, he was then traded back to Boston, where Young would play 9 games before retiring from baseball, cementing his legacy as one of the best pitchers of all time. Young holds the record for most wins as a pitcher, with 512. Many believe that this record is untouchable, attributing it to Cy Young’s greatness and the way that baseball has changed, with pitchers resting much more between starts. Additionally, Young holds the records for innings pitched, complete games, and games started.
Cy Young would be inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1937 and is widely regarded as one of the best pitchers to ever play in the league. He was groundbreaking with his great speeds and effective off-speed pitches, and his longevity, playing 22 seasons and throwing 7356, was impressive as well.
Young would pass away in 1955 and the following year, MLB proceeded to name a pitching award after him. The Cy Young award was created to honor the best pitcher in both leagues (National and American) every season, and is still the highest individual honor for pitchers today.