1903 —1904: The King of Pitchers
HEN CY YOUNG reemerged into the public light from the winter recesses of Tuscarawas County in February 1903, he was in Macon, Georgia, coaching the Mercer University baseball team. According to Mercer lore, he used his stint as coach to introduce the pitchout to southeastern college baseball. 1 Meanwhile, the town ball field was also serving as a dusty spring training facility for Young's Boston club. Young was now generally regarded as the most remarkable pitcher in baseball history. With his 65 victories since joining the American League, he had amassed more triumphs than any major league hurler had won in any two-year period since 1893 and 1894, when Amos Rusie had won 69 and Kid Nichols had won 66. In addition to his talent, there was his unexampled durability. Only three men who had shared the field with him in his first game back in 1890 still played in the majors. An equal number were under the ground. He had launched his American League career at the age of 34. Now, at 36, he was as old as that most resilient of his great predecessors, Charley Radbourn, had been when he had stopped running in fast company. Young was, in short, close to moving into uncharted actuarial territory; and yet he could still plausibly claim to be at the top of his game.
In only one respect was Cy Young disappointed with his work over the past two years; despite his efforts and ambitions, the Boston Americans had still not captured a pennant. What about the coming year? The objective observer might have seen little chance for improvement. After all, the club was entering the new season with virtually the same roster that had fallen short in 1902. An optimist could hope that Bill Dinneen, having struggled during his first year in the junior circuit, would recover