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Description1908 Denton T. "Cy" Young Game Worn Boston Red Sox Uniform. "Too many pitchers," an elderly Cy Young lectured a reporter for The Sporting News before the start of the 1951 season. "That's all. There are just too many pitchers. Ten or twelve on a team. Don't see how any of them get enough work. Four starting pitchers and one relief man ought to be enough. Pitch 'em every three days and you'd find they'd get control and good, strong arms." But despite the legendary hurler's unimpeachable credentials, the baseball world would continue to trend in the opposite direction as the decades passed until the rare complete game was seen as a charming old relic amidst a tangle of various starters, middle relief, set-up men and closers.
Though Young's public lamentations of pitcher coddling were undoubtedly heartfelt, he must have realized on some level that the movement toward decreasing workloads had cemented his legacy, and ensured that his career record of 511 Major League victories would endure eternally. It has been over two decades since the last 25+ victory season was posted, with Oakland A's right hander Bob Welch earning the 1990 American League Cy Young Award for the feat. Had he begun his career with that performance, then repeated it each season to present day, Welch would be pulling even with Young just about now. Young's career victories record is widely, and properly, considered the most untouchable in American sport.
Young was sitting at an even 450 career victories at the start of the 1908 season, his nineteenth in the Majors and his final term of service to the Boston Red Sox. Though his birth, childhood and early career had been confined to his home state of Ohio, Young became the face of the new American League's Boston franchise upon its founding, winning over forty percent of the Red Sox' games its 1901 debut season and earning the AL Triple Crown with top marks in victories, strikeouts and ERA. In 1903 Young would throw the first pitch of World Series competition, notching two of the five wins required in claiming the first Fall Classic title. At age forty-one, Young would post his final twenty victory season as the ace of the 1908 Boston Red Sox, his 1.26 ERA the lowest of his illustrious career and second only to the doomed Addie Joss in AL rankings.
But Young's 1908 season is perhaps best remembered for the third and final no-hit performance of his career, an early blow in the enduring Red Sox/Yankees rivalry (though the latter was still known as the New York Highlanders at the time). Adding to the sting for the vanquished was the fact that the task was accomplished at home, at Manhattan's Hilltop Park where the future inaugural class Hall of Famer may well have been wearing the stunning road grey uniform we present here, one of just two Young representations known to survive to this day.
You may have seen the other one-it's in the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown. It's the home white variation of this single season style, considered by many to be the high water mark of Boston baseball fashion due to the classic yet playful imagery of a red sock on the chest. Our road grey jersey is presented with a modern replacement of that charming patch, the original peeled from the chest by Young himself, who made use of the jersey for post-career sandlot contests. Our replacement patch is not affixed to the jersey, however, so that the darkened shadow where the original patch resided and a thin portion of its edge remain visible. Leading uniform authentication firm MEARS designates an A7 grade, the three point deduction from a perfect rating due only to Young's patch removal. The uniform otherwise presents as 100% original and unaltered, right down to the ancient twine of the laced collar. Local Boston sporting goods manufacturer "Wright & Ditson" labeling remains at interior collar, just above a pale embroidered "Young" sewn directly into the jersey body. Some inconsequential foxing in this area represents the bulk of any condition issues, as the jersey remains free of the staining and moth holes almost always encountered in pre-war uniforms. The matching pants exhibit more wear than the jersey but nothing that adversely affects the display, just a few missing buttons in the fly and wear at the interior waistband. A hole in the seat of the pants is likely a battle scar.
In an abundance of caution, the uniform was also submitted for scientific evaluation by a leading textile expert, whose lengthy (and included) scientific report finds "that no fibers incongruous with the period are present."
The uniform entered the collecting hobby in 2007 after having been deacquisitioned from The Cy Young Museum in Young's hometown of Newcomerstown, Ohio, where it had been displayed for over twenty-five years. As a notarized letter from museum president Barbara Scott attests, the uniform was given to local resident Ike Norris by Young himself in the 1940's, and donated to the museum for display upon the occasion of Norris' passing. Included with the letter is a pair of printed brochures from the museum boasting of this important display.
The eponymous award for pitching excellence presented annually to each League's top ace has made the name Cy Young a household one, and further enhanced the appeal and value of any artifact once blessed by his touch. As a marvelously preserved and flawlessly provenanced example of his game worn uniform, the only specimen existing in private hands, this is unquestionably the most significant Cy Young relic available. One might even go so far as to declare this offering the most important collector-owned baseball uniform in existence today, bar none. Letter of provenance from The Cy Young Museum. LOA from MEARS, A7. Letter of examination from The Textile Conservation Workshop, Inc. LOA from Heritage Auctions.
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