24 Forever Young
You’ve got to admit, it’s pretty impressive that Boston once had the pitcher for whom the award for pitching excellence is named: Cy Young. It’s safe to say that Young was Boston’s first big sports celebrity, joining the Boston Americans in 1901 as a 34-year-old right-hander who had played for the St. Louis Cardinals. Young jumped leagues, signing for $3,500. The story goes that Young didn’t care for the heat and humidity of St. Louis in the summer and wanted to go someplace where it was a little cooler and where he could feel stronger during the dead of summer.
He won 192 games for Boston through 1908, which just so happens to be the exact total of wins Roger Clemens had for the Red Sox. Clemens was always fascinated by Young and read anything he could about the first Boston baseball superstar. It was always thought Clemens wanted to return to the Red Sox so he could break that tie, but it never happened.
In 1901, whether it was a case of global cooling or something else entirely, Young won the American League’s pitching triple crown. He went 33-10 with a 1.62 ERA and 158 strikeouts for the Boston Americans. He pitched 371 innings that season. That’s no misprint. For modern pitchers that’s almost two seasons in one. He followed that up in 1902 with a 32-11 record.
According to the accounts given by Glenn Stout and Richard A. Johnson in Red Sox Century, Young was quite an attraction in those years at the old Huntington Avenue Grounds where the Americans played. Huge crowds gathered every time he pitched. It was akin to the excitement felt in the years when Pedro Martinez pitched at Fenway Park — there was just something special in the air.
Young pitched in Boston through the 1908 season. Into his forties by then, he was dealt to Cleveland, where he finished his career with an amazing and unbeatable 511 wins and 316 losses.