It's Cleveland Indians time again in Northeast Ohio, and Cleveland remains a baseball town as it has been since 1865 when the Forest Citys was an amateur ball club. They were followed by the Cleveland Blues, the Lake Shores, the Naps, and the Cleveland Spiders. Cleveland became a Major League franchise in 1901. One of the most famous players in the early 20th century was pitcher Cy Young, and Purl in Yours in a Hurry has followed Young since his Spiders days.
Born on a farm in Ohio in 1867, Denton True "Cy" Young's professional career began with a minor league baseball team in Canton, Ohio in 1889. His fastball destroyed so many fences that that spectators said it looked like a cyclone had hit them. Reporters nicknamed him "Cy".
Cy Young Comes to Cleveland
Young signed with the Cleveland Spiders in 1890. Prior to the 1899 season, the Spiders' owner bought the St. Louis Browns, which were renamed the "Perfectos". Shortly before the season opener, most of the better Spiders players, including Young, were transferred to St. Louis. It didn't seem to help the Perfectos.
After two years in St. Louis he joined the American League's Boston Americans who played the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first modern World Series in 1903. General admission tickets were fifty cents. Young threw the first pitch in modern World Series history, and Boston went on to defeat Pittsburgh.
Beginning in 1902, he spent the off season as a pitching coach, first at Harvard University and then at Mercer University, leading Mercer to several Georgia state championships—pretty impressive for someone with a sixth-grade education.
Cy Young Returns to Ohio
In 1909 Young was traded back to the Cleveland Naps. The following season, he won his 500th career game on July 19 against Washington. In 1911, his final year, he played for both the Naps and the Boston Rustlers. On September 22, 1911, Young shut out the Pittsburgh Pirates, 1–0, for his last career victory in a game against pitcher Christy Mathewson in a game famously billed as a pitchers' duel.
During his 21-year baseball career Young pitched for five different teams and established numerous pitching records, some of which stood for nearly a century. He pitched three no-hitters, including one just after his 41st birthday, making him the oldest pitcher to record a no-hitter for eighty-two years until the honor passed to Nolan Ryan. In addition to the most wins, he still holds the major league records for most career innings pitched and most career games started. He pitched the third perfect game in modern baseball history.
After his retirement, Young returned to his farm in Ohio, where he stayed until his death at age 88 in 1955. One year after his death, the Cy Young Award was created to honor the previous season's best pitcher. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937.
The Spiders are gone, but I hope you have the opportunity to see one of America's most treasured pastimes this year at a ballpark nearby.
Next time: Cromwell Dixon, Boy Wonder