Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and Chevrolet. Those are things that are American to the core. In the nearby town of Newcomerstown, a baseball legend grew up and his legacy is still celebrated today.
Denton True Young was born in Gilmore, not far from Newcomerstown. Called Dent as a youngster, the lad went to a two-room school in Gilmore but only went through the sixth grade. The boys loved to play baseball and would often either walk or ride horseback for twenty miles to play the game.
To practice pitching, Dent would throw a ball (if he had one) into a target on the barn door, or walnuts through the knot holes in the fence. It’s no wonder he was known for accuracy during his pitching career.
Dent received his first contract from a team in Canton at the age of 23. They paid him $60 a month. Wanting to impress his teammates, he threw the ball so hard that no catcher wanted to catch him, so he threw into the fence. One fellow said it looked like a cyclone had struck the fence. The name stuck and Cyclone was his listed name for two years. That soon became shortened to Cy, a name which stayed with him through the rest of his life.
Over the years, he played with Cleveland, St. Louis, and Boston. He holds the records of most innings pitched at 7,356 and most wins with 511, a record that is not likely to be broken. Not many could pitch like he did in both games of a double header…and he never had a sore arm!
In 1914, a young man in Newcomerstown by the name of Jimmie Knowles had a shoeshine stand in front of the newspaper office. He remembers Cy Young coming to town almost every weekend in his big Cadillac and parking it on Main Street. Then he’d stop by and have Jimmie polish his shoes. He always left a tip.
Cy tried his hand at management for one year with the Cleveland Green Socks as he had a hankering to get back into the world of baseball. But the league was dissolved and Cy returned to Tuscarawas County.
When Cy retired at the age of 45, he enjoyed the life of a gentleman farmer in Peoli. There he raised potatoes, and tended sheep, hogs, and chickens and enjoyed hunting and fishing.
When his wife, Roba, died in 1933, Cy lost a good friend as they had known each other since childhood. After her death, he worked at various jobs and eventually moved in with friends and helped them bale hay, handle the horse and even chop wood.
He was an active member of the community and moved up through the ranks of the Masons, was a member of the local Elks Club and was elected to the Republican Party Central Committee.
Old-timers baseball games gave him pleasure and a chance to meet old friends. In 1937, Cy Young was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in the second class ever. He was the first to donate memorabilia to their new museum in Cooperstown.
In 1948, great excitement filled Newcomerstown as Cy Young was to be honored at Cleveland Stadium for his 80th birthday. To make the day even more special, Bill Veeck, the owner of the Cleveland Indians, arranged for the C&M Railroad to make a stop in Newcomerstown and bring the whole town to Cleveland at no cost to residents.
Pitching was Cy’s specialty and he threw a fastball with cannonball speed that few could hit. Because of his fantastic pitching ability, the Cy Young Award was created in 1956 and given annually to an outstanding pitcher in all of baseball. Beginning in 1967 through today, the award is given to a pitcher in each league.
The first Cy Young Festival was held in 1958 in Newcomerstown. Every year a baseball star pitcher is featured. This year it will be Randy Jones, who won the Cy Young Award in 1978 when he played for the San Diego Padres. Great names such as Dwight Gooden, Dean Chance, and Vida Blue have attended the festival.
The festival begins on Saturday morning with a Cy Young Run. Afterward, a car caravan can be seen heading to Cy’s grave in nearby Peoli at the Peoli Church. You might stop along the way at the Newcomerstown McDonald’s where they have a large display honored this hometown hero.
The afternoon is filled with bands, food, and fun for everyone. The annual parade begins at 6:00 and stops at the Olde Main Street Museum. There they have a special display of Cy Young memorabilia.
Sunday begins with an Old Timers Vintage Baseball game at the Cy Young Memorial Park Field. Players will be dressed in uniforms similar to those of the mid-1800s and use the same rules and language of the Civil War era. Or you might prefer to go to a Car Show on Main Street, a talent show or pet show. There are events for everyone to enjoy.
The Annual Cy Young Days Festival is held in Newcomerstown in June of each year. The festival not only promotes Cy Young but also increases awareness of all the youth baseball and softball programs in the Newcomerstown area. It’s all about Cy Young and baseball, the game he loved.
Cy Young won 511 games in 22 seasons and pitched three no-hitters. Imagine what kind of contract he could command today for an arm like that.