Born on March 29, 1867, Denton True Young was raised on a farm in Gilmore, Ohio and was considered fairly green upon his arrival in the big leagues. When the pitcher left home he was known as Dent Young. Before long, he was nicknamed Cy, as in Cyclone, because of his blinding fastball.
Young's first stop on the road to national acclaim was Canton, Ohio in the Tri-State League. The rookie compiled a 15-15 record and it wasn't long before he was offered a chance to play in the majors for a sum of $500. The Cleveland Spiders were the team willing to take the gamble.
Young's big league debut with Cleveland came on Aug. 6, 1890. During his rookie campaign he won nine games in 17 appearances, striking out 36 batters. But versatility was the key, as Cleveland gained a pitcher who could throw every other day. It didn't long for Young to start racking up victories.
During a 22-year career in which Young won 511 games, he reached or topped the 20-victory mark 16 times and exceeded the 30-win plateau five times. He threw three-no hitters, including the first perfect game in Major League history in 1904 against the Philadelphia A's. Determined to finish the game, Young had no idea that he had retired 27-straight batters until fellow teammates mobbed him and Chick Stahl presented him with the game ball.
Young moved with the Spiders franchise to St. Louis in 1899. He was earning the National League's maximum salary of $2,400 a year and was in a receptive mood when Ben Johnson, who was responsible for forming the American League as a new major circuit, offered him a $600-a-year raise to jump to the Boston Red Sox in 1901. Young accepted Johnson's offer and joined the Red Sox that same year. Two years later, in 1903, he won two games in the first modern World Series.
For all of his accomplishments, Young's most memorable day came on Aug. 13, 1908 when the Boston Post sponsored "Cy Young Day." American League activity was completely suspended for the day so that the All-Star team could honor Young by meeting the Red Sox in an exhibition game at the old Huntington Avenue Grounds. Within an hour of the gates opening, nearly 20,000 fans jammed the park, and another 10,000 had to be turned away. Young, who pitched the first two innings against the All-Stars, was so overcome by emotion that he couldn't "make no response to the presentation speeches."
Young pitched his last game in 1911 at the age of 44 for the Boston Braves. After 22 seasons of service he retired as the Major League leader in career wins (511), complete games (751) and innings pitched (7,356).
In 1937, 26 years after he retired from the game of baseball, Young was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Major League Baseball further honored the pitcher by creating the Cy Young Award - an honor given annually to the best pitcher in the American and National Leagues. The award was first introduced in 1956 by Commissioner Ford Frick, approximately one year after Young passed away at the age of 88.