May 5

This Day in History

Sports

May 5, 1904:

Cy Young throws perfect game

On May 5, 1904, Boston Red Sox pitcher Cy Young throws a perfect game against the Detroit Tigers, who had fellow future Hall of Fame pitcher Rube Waddell on the mound. This was the first perfect game of the modern era; the last had been thrown by John Montgomery Ward in 1880. It was the second of three no-hitters that Young would throw, and the only perfect game.

Denton True Young was born March 29, 1867, in Gilmore, Ohio. Young began playing baseball professionally in Canton, Ohio, in 1890, making just $60 a month. He won his final Tri-State League game for Canton, striking out 18 men, before being acquired in August by the Cleveland Spiders, who paid $250 for his contract and gave him a raise to $200 per month. His teammates in Cleveland began calling him "Cyrus" to poke fun at his "country" ways; they eventually shortened it to "Cy." In his first big league game, Young held Cap Anson’s Chicago White Stockings to three hits. His performance prompted the normally conservative Anson to make an offer for Cy’s contract on the spot; he was roundly refused. As Young continued to assert his dominance on the mound, the nickname Cy came to be short for "Cyclone."

Cy Young was among the 111 players lured away from the National League when the American League was founded in 1901. Young dominated the AL in its first year, winning the pitching Triple Crown with 33 wins, 158 strikeouts and a 1.62 ERA. In 1903, Young led the Boston Americans (called the Red Sox by their fans before an official name change) to the American League pennant and then to victory in the first World Series. Young won two games and lost one in the series, with 17 strikeouts and a 1.59 ERA. For his career, though, Young was not a huge strikeout pitcher, preferring to use the seven players behind him, as many of the most successful pitchers do.

In his 906th and final game, Young lost 1-0 to a rookie named Grover Cleveland Alexander. Alexander went on to win 373 games in his career, but Young felt that if a rookie could beat him, it was time to retire. It was the 906th game Young pitched, the most games played by any pitcher to that time.

Cy Young is the all-time leader in wins with 511 and in losses with 316. In his 22 seasons in the major leagues, he threw 749 complete games, 110 more complete games than his closest competitor.

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