Cy Young

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This great pitcher's autograph is a key component to any Hall of Fame collection. A prolific signer and letter writer during his post career, Cy Young was a great signer via the mail and in person, signing autographs right up until his death in 1955. His autograph is not in abundance, but finding a signature on a 3x5 or government postcard is not a challenge. He would typically sign items very simply "Cy Young."

At times, his autograph would include a date or inscription and he was also known to add the town name where he lived, Peoli, Ohio. Material signed by Young during his playing days is virtually non-existent. Single-signed baseballs are very difficult to acquire, but they do exist and are sold in the marketplace on occasion. Nevertheless, they are hard to find signed on the sweet spot with most of them penned on the side panel. Signed photographs also are in short supply and quite desirable.

Subject Profile

Denton True "Cy" Young (1867-1955) was not only the winningest pitcher in the history of Major League Baseball with 511, but was perhaps the most dominant hurlers of any generation. Young bridged the gap from when pitchers threw underhand, didn’t wear gloves and foul balls were not counted as strikes through the DeadBall Era and into baseball’s modern era, which includes many changes to the game that can be directly traced back to Young and his contemporaries. Denton grew up on a farm in Ohio and began his baseball career playing second base and pitching for local clubs until he eventually hooked up with the "semi-pro" team from Carrolton, Ohio. The Canton Nadjys of the Tri-State League soon snatched him up in 1890. While pitching in Canton, his fastball was something to behold and "almost tore the boards off the grandstand," destroying anything in its path including the backstop fences. Thus his nickname of "Cyclone" was born as the fences appeared as though a cyclone had struck them, eventually to be shortened to "Cy." The nickname stuck with for the rest of his life. That same year, 1890, the Cleveland Spiders of the National League signed Cy and he proceeded to pitch a three-hit shutout in his Major League debut. On the final day of the 1890 season, already boasting a record of 7-7, Young won both halves a doubleheader to finish his rookie campaign 9-7 with a 3.47 ERA. In 1891, he went 27-22 with a 2.85 ERA and 147 strikeouts. Because of the power-pitching arms of Young, Amos Rusie, Jouett Meekin and others, the National League moved the pitchers box back five feet to 55 ft. 6 in. Cy Young led the National League in wins (36), winning percentage (.750), ERA (1.93), shutouts (9) and struck out 168 batters. The next season, the box, now referred to as the pitching rubber was moved back another five feet to 60 ft. 6 in., the distance at which the current mound is located.

In 1895, the Spiders played the Baltimore Orioles, led by future Hall of Famers John McGraw, Kid Gleason, Willie Keeler and Hughie Jennings, among others, for the Temple Cup, the precursor to the modern-day World Series. The Spiders lost to the Orioles, but it was around this time that Young also developed the "slow pitch," what would be the change-up today, and regarded control as the fundamental basis of pitching, stating that "the curve is merely an accessory to control." He threw his first no-hitter on September 18, 1897 against the Cincinnati Reds. He also led the NL in win (35) and shutouts (4) once again that season. After spending nine years in Cleveland (1892-1898), in 1899, Young was shipped to the St. Louis Browns, renamed the Perfectos, also owned by the Frank Robison – owner of the Spiders, as Cleveland’s star players were tapped to stock the St. Louis roster. Included in the move were fellow future Hall of Famers Jesse Burkett and Bobby Wallace. The moved failed as the Perfectos finished fifth in the National League and Cleveland ended up dead last and folded. In 1901, with the addition of the American League to Major League Baseball, Cy joined the fledgling Boston Beaneaters and proceeded to lead the AL in wins (33), ERA (1.62) and strikeouts (158), capturing what would later be called the pitching "Triple Crown," while he also led the league in shutouts. Young led the AL in wins for three straight years with 33 in 1901, 32 in 1902 and 28 in 1903 and led Boston to the American League pennant in 1903 and the inaugural World Series. As the Game 1 starter of the 1903 World Series, Cy Young threw the very first pitch in World Series history. Though he eventually lost that game, Boston defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates five games to three to win the first World Series championship. He is the only pitcher in history to pitch in both the Temple Cup and World Series.

In 1904, Philadelphia Athletics pitcher Rube Waddell famously taunted Young after Waddell had thrown a one-hitter against the Beaneaters. Three days later, facing Waddell and the A’s, Young threw the first perfect game in American League history. This game was also part of Young’s record setting 25.1 consecutive innings without allowing a hit and 45-inning shutouts streak. Cy Young pitched 22 years in the Major Leagues with the Spiders, Perfectos (1899-1900), Beaneaters (1901-1908), Cleveland Naps (1909-1911) and Boston Rustlers (1911). Cy prided himself on being a contact pitcher who used his control, baseball smarts and knowledge of hitter’s tendencies to help him win and on July 19, 1910 he became the first and only pitcher to win 500 games. Cy Young retired after the 1911 season having posted 511 career victories, the most by any pitcher in history by nearly 100 better. He also holds the records for most losses (316), starts (815), complete games (749), innings pitched (7356) and batters faced (29,565). Cy also coached collegiate ball during his playing days with Harvard University in 1902 and Mercer University for three seasons. He led Mercer to the Georgia state championships in 1903, 1904 and 1905. Cy Young kept a connection to baseball until his death in 1955. In 1956, a year after Young’s death, the Cy Young Award was established to honor the league’s best pitcher and in 1967, the single award for Major League Baseball was split and one award is now given to the top pitcher from the National and American Leagues. Denton True "Cy" Young was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937 and was among the first to donate mementos to the museum.