by The Last Hollywood Star
Two weeks ago when John Smoltz refused a Boston Red Sox demotion to the minor leagues, he took a page from one of baseball’s greatest all-time pitchers, Cy Young.
In 1911, the Cleveland Indians wanted to demote Young. Although he still had something left in his arm, Young had grown so obese that he could no longer field his position.
As a result, dribblers back to the hill turned into easy base hits.
Young still thought he could pitch so he refused a minor league assignment. Three weeks after the Indians cut him, on August 11 almost ninety-eight years ago to the date of Smoltz’s release, Young signed with the last place Boston Rustlers, previously known as the Beaneaters, the Red Caps and the Doves before evolving into the Bees and finally the Braves.
Pitching for a bad team, over the seven remaining weeks in the season Young went 4-5 and posted a 3.71 ERA before finally giving baseball up.
Along the way, Young matched up with some of baseball’s greatest Hall of Fame pitchers.
Young faced Grover Alexander on September 7 but although he pitched his fourth complete game in 13 days, he lost 1-0.
On September 12, Young was shelled by the New York Giants and lasted only 2 2/3 innings. The Giants’ Christy Mathewson coasted to an easy 11-2 win.
Then on September 22 Young came to Pittsburgh for the first time since he pitched for the Boston Americans (and won two games) in 1903 World Series.
On his return to Pittsburgh, Young met Pirate future Hall of Famer, Babe Adams (more about him soon). Young bested Adams, 1-0.
By the time Young quit baseball after 22 seasons, he had won 511 games with a 2. 63 ERA. Said Young: “My arm will no longer do the work that was so easy.
Smoltz makes his first home start tonight against the Washington Nationals following his spectacular debut Sunday against San Diego. The 42-year-old right-hander worked five scoreless innings with nine strikeouts, including seven in a row.
Smoltz wants to pitch one more year, then retire in 2011---a century after Young hung them up.