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A record that will never be brokenPosted Tuesday, September 22, 2009, at 9:49 AM
On this date, in 1911, arguably the greatest pitcher ever to live won the final game of his Major League Baseball career.
Denton True "Cy" Young picked up his 511th victory, shutting out the Pittsburgh Pirates, 1-0.
Only two weeks later, Young pitched the final game of his career.
In that season, Young finished with a record of 7-9 to go along with a 3.78 earned run average (ERA).
He was 44.
Young began his career in 1890 as a 23-year-old playing for the Cleveland Spiders.
After 22 seasons, Young amassed a career record of 511-316, including 15 years of 20 wins or more. He won 20 or more nine straight seasons from 1891-1899.
Ninety-eight years later, Young still holds several baseball records.
He has the most wins in baseball history. He pitched 7,354 and two-thirds innings in his career, another record.
He started 815 games in his 22 seasons, yet another record. And he amasses 749 complete games -- also a baseball record.
He also won 30 or more games in a season five times. Young's career ERA was 2.63, a number most pitchers would dream of seeing now. His career strikeout total was 2,803.
During his 22 seasons, he played for the Spiders (1890-98), the St. Louis Perfectos (1899-1900), the Boston Americans/Red Sox (1901-08), the Cleveland Naps (1909-11) and the Boston Rustlers (1911).
Young was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937 as a member of the second class of inductees.
He was joined by executives Morgan Bulkeley and Ban Johnson, baseball pioneer George Wright, managers Connie Mack and John McGraw and players Nap Lajoie and Tris Speaker.
The first Hall of Fame class, in 1936, included players Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson.
Johnson, coincidentally, ranks second all-time in baseball pitching victories with 417.
When Young began his career, he was given the nickname "Cyclone" in reference to the speed of his fastball. The nickname stuck.
His name comes up every year as pitchers in both the American and National leagues are awarded the Cy Young awards.
Young is one of 24 players in baseball history to have won more than 300 games. The select club also includes Johnson (417), Grover Cleveland Alexander (373), Mathewson (373), Pud Galvin (364), Warren Spahn (363), Kid Nichols (361), Greg Maddux (355), Roger Clemens (354), Tim Keefe (342), Steve Carlton (329), John Clarkson (328), Eddie Plank (326), Nolan Ryan (324), Don Sutton (324), Phil Niekro (318), Tom Seaver (311), Charles Radbourn (309), Mickey Welch (307), Tom Glavine (305), Randy Johnson (303), Early Wynn (300), and Lefty Grove (300).
Of those 24 pitchers, only 12 have reached the mark since 1960.
There's an old saying that records are meant to be broken.
But Young's career total will never be broken.
In fact, when Randy Johnson notched his 300th career win on June 4, 2009, he may have become the last pitcher to win 300 games.
To put it in perspective, the closest pitchers to the 300 mark are Jamie Moyer (258 wins) and Andy Pettitte (228 wins).
Moyer has played professional baseball since the 1980s and will turn 47 later this year. Pettitte is one year older than I am.
Both are nearing the end of respectable baseball careers.
After Pettitte and Moyer, Pedro Martinez has 219 wins. John Smoltz has 213 wins and the next active player on the career list is Tim Wakefield with 189.
A pitcher getting the 300th victory may never happen again, making Young's win total all the more amazing.
Pitchers are treated differently now in the game of baseball than they were in Young's day.
During that time, relievers were in the clubhouse, but were seldom used. Teams carried few pitchers and expected the starters to finish out the whole game.
Now, teams carry 10-plus relievers. Starters rarely go beyond six innings.
Few finish seasons now with more than five complete games.
But on this day, in 1911, Young won his final game. His 511th. A record that will never be broken.