“Baseball players are smarter than football players. How often do you see a baseball team penalized for too many players on the field?”— Jim Bouton
His birth name was Denton True Young, but his legacy name is Cy. There are many players in various sports who set records that eventually fall, from Babe Ruth’s 60 home run season to the Olympics’ “fastest human,” but Cy Young’s 511 career wins is a record we’ll never see broken. Another is his record of 749 complete games. Wow.
The game of baseball has changed. Instead of going out there and pitching a complete game, today’s pitchers have their pitches being counted to preserve their arm strength for the next game. Nolan Ryan, who had an even longer career than Cy Young, only pitched 222 complete games. Ryan’s run ran from the 60s to 1993. The top 21st century pitchers will have even fewer complete games. Roy Halladay, whom some would rank best in the past two decades, only pitched 67 complete games. In contrast, Cy Young pitched more than ten times as many as Roy Halladay (whose career was shorter) and three times as many as Nolan Ryan.
Cy Young had more than 30 wins in a season five times,. In his stellar season of 1892 he pitched in 55 games with an ERA of 1.92, 9 shutouts and 36 wins. He was 25 and must have been intimidating. Lifetime he pitched three no-hitters and one prefect game. His lifetime ERA was a stellar 2.63. On one occasion he pitched 25 1/3 consecutive innings without allowing a hit. Cy Young began his career in Cleveland, whom I will be rooting for again in this year’s post-season clashes. Back then it was the Cleveland Spyders. (Today Spyders is an index fund that follows the S&P 500.)
The Cy Young Award was created the year after Cy Young passed in 1955. A number of Cleveland pitchers have won the award, and tomorrow afternoon two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber will be on the mound in Houston going head-to-head with another former Cy Young winner, Justin Verlander. The heat is on.
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Hall of Fame Cleveland centerfielder Tris Speaker had a .345 lifetime average and still hold major league record for career doubles at 782. His first year with Cleveland he hit .386, led the league in hits (211) and had an on base percentage of .470. In other words, nearly half the time he walked to the plate he got on base. Pretty good numbers in any era.
Yes, I’m a die-hard Cleveland fan. When my parents brought me home after I was born there were four teddy bears in my crib, each named after the four pitchers in the Indians starting rotation. Three of these later became Hall of Famers. (Not the teddy bears, the pitchers.)
Originally published at pioneerproductions.blogspot.com on October 4, 2018.
All photos by Ed Newman. Hall of Fame Cards owned by the author.