CHAPTER FIFTEEN

1912 —1955: Life after Glory

S A SUBJECT for biog raphy, an athlete offers a career of peculiar proportions: the achievements that draw the attention of the biog- A rapher occur relatively early in the subject's life, and the last half of that life — the period that for most biog raphical subjects sees the fulfillment of earlier effort or promise — is little more than a vast anticlimax. Except for a small number — Joe Cronin, for example, as a baseball executive, or John Montgomery Ward as an attorney, or Jim Bunning as a politician — most diamond g reats cannot find post-diamond opportunities for distinction. The talent that brought them fame turns out to have no applicability beyond the ball park. When Cy Young retired at the age of forty-five, he had more than four decades of life still before him. To anticipate my judgment on those forty-three years: even though Young failed to establish a new career for himself, and even though he experienced some awkward bumps and disappointments, his pride and common sense allowed him to weather the vicissitudes of life after glory pretty well.

By the fall of 1912, Cy Young had returned to his farm in Peoli. Although it seems the natural step for him to have taken, he toyed with alternatives. A Boston sporting goods vendor had offered to install him as store manager. His brother Alonzo had encouraged him to move to an Oregon cattle ranch. Instead, he did what he had always said he would do; he tended his farm in Tuscarawas County. He had hunting and fishing to pass the time, and he briefly lent his approval to a project involving a ghostwritten “history of base ball in his times, told in autobiographical form.” 1 Upon hearing reports that his land might sit atop an oil deposit, he invested in some unsuccessful drilling efforts, announcing that “I'm

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