Cy Young, pitching for the recently established Boston Americans, threw the first perfect game of the World Series era on this day in history, May 5, 1904.
Young mowed down 27 straight batters in front of 10,267 fans at the former Huntington Avenue Grounds in Boston as the Americans — later renamed the Red Sox — beat the Philadelphia Athletics 3-0.
Perfect games are one of the rarest feats in all of sports — with an average of less than 1 per 10,000 games.
The imposing 6-foot-2-inch, 210-pound fireballer played 22 seasons of big-league baseball, won 511 games — a record that has never been approximated — and is the namesake of the award given to the best pitcher in each Major League Baseball league every year.
Young was also the ace of the Boston team that won the first World Series in 1903.
“It’s no job for me to pick out my greatest day in baseball,” the Gilmore, Ohio farmboy turned all-time great said years later, in an interview provided by Major League Baseball.
“It was May 5, 1904, when I was pitching … and beat the Philadelphia Athletics without a run, hit or man reaching first. Of all the 906 games I pitched in the big leagues, that one stands clearest in my mind.”
“It’s no job for me to pick out my greatest day in baseball. It was May 5, 1904.” — Cy Young
The performance was part of an incredible streak of dominance by Young, who stands high on the short list of greatest pitchers ever.
“What seems of interest to me is that Young’s perfect game came in the middle of a no-hit streak that lasted 25 1/3 innings and a scoreless string that ran to 45 innings,” John Thorn, the official historian of Major League Baseball, told Fox News Digital.
Young’s 45 consecutive innings of scoreless ball, the equivalent of five complete games without yielding a run, was matched later that season by Doc White of the Chicago White Sox.
It has been topped only seven times since.
No player in 119 years has matched Young’s stunning steak of more than 25 innings without yielding a hit.
Dennis Eckersley is No. 2 on the list, pitching 21 consecutive no-hit innings for the Cleveland Indians in 1977.
“What seems of interest to me is that Young’s perfect game came in the middle of a no-hit streak that lasted 25 1/3 innings.” — Major League Baseball historian John Thorn
Denton True Young was nicknamed Cyclone because of his overpowering fastball early in his career.
His perfect game was the first of only 21 in the World Series era (1903-present).
Major League Baseball recognizes two earlier perfect games, both performed only five days and 40 miles apart in 1880.
Lee Richmond pitched a perfect game for the Worcester Worcesters on June 12.
John Ward Montgomery Ward of the Providence Grays followed the feat on June 17.
Both men pitched under different standards than Young and players that followed.
The mound, most notably, was only 45 feet from home plate in 1880, compared with the 60 feet, 6 inches for Young in 1904 and still today.
Baseball has witnessed only 20 more perfect games since Young’s historic effort in 1904 — making it one of the rarest achievements in all of sports.
The total of 23 perfect games have come over a span of 236,000 total games played since 1876, according to BaseballReference.com — one perfect game or every 10,260 games played.
“Cy Young left a legacy as a pitcher that is unlikely to ever be matched.” — National Baseball Hall of Fame
Baseball has not witnessed a perfect game in more than a decade.
The last was pitched by Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners in a 1-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Aug. 15, 2012.
Young’s 511 wins remains a total unmatched and un-approximated in the more than a century since he last played.
Walter Johnson is a distant second with 417 wins.
“Cy Young left a legacy as a pitcher that is unlikely to ever be matched,” notes the National Baseball Hall of Fame, which inducted the pitcher in its second class of players in 1937.
“On May 5, 1904, Young pitched the first perfect game of the 20th century, a day he considered to be his greatest in baseball.”