On the morning of Aug. 7, 1890, Cleveland baseball fans awakened to a Plain Dealer story announcing a victory by their rookie pitcher: “Chicago makes but three hits off the cyclonic pitcher.”
‘The cyclonic pitcher,’ of course, was Cy Young, born Denton True. He was nicknamed ‘Cyclone,’ then just ‘Cy,’ by his teammates when they saw how fast he threw a baseball. He was born on a farm in Tuscarawras County, Ohio, two years after the Civil War ended on March 29, 1867.
The game on August 6 for the Cleveland Spiders was Cy Young’s first, and he looked like a big farm boy in a too-small uniform. Before the game, the Chicago Colts’ great first baseman Cap Anson dismissed him as ‘just another big farmer.’ Young was deeply hurt by the insult and bore down on the Colts’ hitters.
Anson was so impressed with Young that he offered to buy his contract after the game. He stayed with the Spiders.
The Cleveland Leader and Herald waxed ecstatic about the rookie’s debut, asking “Can Mr. Young pitch?” “Can a fifer fife?” The writer further noted Cy Young ‘sends lessons in geometry up to the batter with a request for a solution.’
Fourteen years later, Cy Young told a sportswriter, “I’ve won many more important games since then, but none gave me half the satisfaction that victory did.” Anson said if he’d had Young on his team he’d win the championship in a walk (he didn’t).
Cy Young won more baseball games than any pitcher ever won or is likely to win. Over his 21-year career he won 511 games, including two no-hitters and a perfect game, playing for Cleveland, St. Louis and both Boston teams: the Americans, now the Red Sox, and the Rustlers, later the Braves.
With thanks to Cy Young, A Baseball Life, by Reed Browning.