COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – It was the end of an era. The career of one of baseball's greatest pitchers was coming to an end as the career of another great pitcher was just beginning.
One hundred years ago this week, the Philadelphia Phillies 24-year old rookie pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander defeated the Boston Braves' 44-year old veteran Cy Young. On Sept. 7, 1911, Alexander pitched a one-hit shutout, as the Phillies beat the Braves 1-0.
This win would be one of 28 for Alexander in 1911, setting a record for wins by a pitcher in his rookie season. Young would go on to pitch just six more games that year, the final season of his 22-year Major League career.
Alexander's 1911 season would be one of the greatest by a rookie in the 20th century. In addition to his National League-leading 28 wins, he would also lead the league in complete games (31) and innings pitched (367). Alexander threw seven shutouts in 1911, four consecutively.
Young would end his career with 511 career wins, 7,356 innings pitched and 749 complete games. These records have remained unmatched in MLB history.
Throughout their careers, these two Hall of Famers were models for consistency. Young pitched effectively well into his 40s, having some of his best seasons well after his prime pitching years. Young threw the first no-hitter in American League history in 1901 for Boston when he was 34.
"I thought I had to show all my stuff. I threw the ball so hard a tore a couple of boards off the grandstand," Young said. "One of the fellows said the stand looked like a cyclone had struck it. That's how I got the name that was later shortened to 'Cy.'"
In his 20-year career, "Pete" Alexander was also known for his excellent control and efficiency on the mound.
"What's the use of doin' in three pitches what you can do in one?" Alexander once said of the quick and effective way he pitched.
In 1915, Alexander won the Triple Crown: Leading the league in wins, strikeouts and earned-run average. That season, he paced the National League in victories (31), ERA (1.22) and strikeouts (241), the latter a career high.
Alexander's 20-year playing career ended in 1929. He remains third on Major League Baseball's all-time win list with 373, tied with Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson.
Both Alexander and Young have been enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Alexander was elected by the Baseball Writers Association of America in 1938, one year after the man he defeated on Sept. 7, 1911.
"You know I had many a thrill in my baseball career, and many a treat," Alexander said in his Hall of Fame induction speech in 1938. "But I consider this the greatest treat and one of the biggest thrills I had in my long time in baseball."
Nicole Pappas was the public relations intern in the Class of 2011 Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program