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Why Was He Called Cy?

Why was he called Cy? Because Denton True "Cy" Young (1867-1955) could throw a ball with the force of a cyclone, said one observer of this baseball immortal. On Aug. 6, 1890, Young pitched his first professional game, leading the Cleveland Spiders past the Chicago White Sox.

Old Settlers Picnic--July 15, Du Page County Centennial, Roselle, between 1936 and 1939. Prints and Photographs Division. Eleanor Briggs, photographer. The Y2K Bug Shows Up at the Hancock Old Home Days Parade, August 1999.

He was born in Gilmore, Ohio, and played for the Spiders from 1890 until 1901 before moving to the Boston Red Sox in the American League. Young finished his career with the Cleveland Indians, also in the American League. The Cy Young Award, instituted in 1956, is given annually to the best pitcher in each professional league. Young won 511 games, more than any pitcher ever. He also pitched the first perfect game in American League history on May 5, 1904. Young was the AL's first superstar, inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937.

Another superstar pitcher never made it to the major leagues until he was 42, the oldest player to make his major league debut. Like Young, Satchel Paige (1906-1982) played for the Indians; he helped the team win the pennant in1948, the same year his contract was sold to the Indians and a year after Jackie Robinson broke baseball's "color barrier" when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Paige was another "cy," as in cyclone, as he was reputed to have been the Negro Leagues' hardest thrower. Without a doubt, he was the Leagues' most colorful character - a great storyteller who threw pitches such as the "bat dodger" and the "hesitation." You can read more about Paige in Today in History, the Web site with historical information about every day of the year. Paige was born on July 7.

The Library's Web site called American Memory is rich with baseball history. For example, "By Popular Demand: Jackie Robinson and Other Baseball Highlights" recounts Robinson's story in a Special Presentation. The Negro Leagues are featured in this presentation as well.

Early depictions of baseball's greats are in "Baseball Cards, 1887-1914." "Early Baseball Pictures" and the recently available "Spalding Base Ball Guides" are other American Memory presentations worth exploring. The panoramic photograph above of the Cleveland Indians is from "Taking the Long View: Panoramic Photographs, 1851-1991," which has many baseball-related images.


A. [Cy Young, full-length portrait, standing, facing right, throwing baseball], 1908. Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction information: Reproduction No.: LC-USZ62-77897 DLC (b&w film copy neg.); Call No.: Item in LOT 11147-1 <P&P>

B. "Group of Cleveland Base Ball Players," 1910. Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction information: Reproduction No. LC-USZ62-52725 DLC (b&w film copy neg. of left section) LC-USZ62-52726 DLC (b&w film copy neg. of right section); Call No.: PAN SUBJECT - Sports, no. 92.

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