Cy Young is one of those few baseball players who went down in history as one of the greatest players of all-time and still ranks there today. Even if his game days were more than 100 years ago, Cy Young’s all-time record of 511 career wins over 22 years is a pitching record that still holds to this day. Walter Johnson’s second-place in the all-time wins is all the way down at 417 wins over 21 years. And back in those days, pitchers were not taken out of games in the fifth and sixth innings because they threw 80 pitches.
But even with Cy Young having the great Cy Young Award named after him, none of us think about Cy Young with a bat in his hand. The 1910 E93 Standard Caramel set creates a bit of a puzzlement 112 years later since almost every other image we ever see is of Cy pitching or in a portrait — was Cy Young also a good batter?
There are two ways to go here, and with the collecting angle of the hobby being our primary focus at Collectors Dashboard we want to go ahead and get Cy Young’s hitting and pitching stats out of the way first. The E93 Standard Caramel baseball card from 1910 shows Cy Young in a rare batting pose, versus the normal portraits or pitching poses. And you might guess way short what the best example on record of this card is going to fetch in auction.
As of the time this was produced, Robert Edward Auctions still had over a week before the auction’s end and the price was already above the $100,000 level. First image below is by Robert Edward Auctions.
CY YOUNG’s PITCHING STATS
While Cy’s 2.63 lifetime earned run average (ERA) is impressive, it is not the highest. His spot on the all-time rank is not even 50th place (Ed Walsh’s 1.82 ERA is in first place all-time). His 2,803 recorded strikeouts isn’t even technically in the top 20 any longer, and only about half of Nolan Ryan’s all-time 5,714 strikeouts. Young’s 511 career wins over 22 years is hands above Walter Johnson’s 417 wins over 21 years for second place and is more than 150 wins higher than Greg Maddux’s modern-era top win pitcher (#8 all-time).
Cy Young pitched from 1890 into 1911, but the aging pitcher had only 7 wins in each of his last two seasons. Back in the era of tobacco cards, pitchers would finish most of their games back in that period and it was not that common for men aged 43 and 44 to be hurling game after game.
One dubious record that Cy also holds is the MLB ll-time loss record with 316 losses. Still, that’s a .619 Win-loss percentage and he also holds the record for 815 games started and the record for 749 games completed. The MLB wasn’t known for bringing in 6 different relief pitchers in a single game back in the late-1800s and early 1900s. On a Wins Above Replacement (WAR), Cy Young’s 165.6 “WAR” is the highest, above Walter Johnson’s 152.1 (#2) and Roger Clemens’ 138.7 (#3).
One issue which still seems hard to imagine is that Cy Young wasn’t in Baseball’s first Hall of Fame class in 1936. Those first five slots went to Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner and the then-most-recently retired Babe Ruth. Cy Young made it into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York in the second class in 1937 along with 7 other legendary baseball players, managers and executives.
CY YOUNG’s BATTING STATS
While we have matched up the statistics from multiple sources, the Baseball-Reference site should prove that Cy Young was a decent hitter considering that his pay from multiple teams of the era was for his ability to go the distance and pitching the team to victory. Out of 2,960 at-bats, Cy Young managed 623 base hits for a career .210 batting average.
When you see photos of Cy Young, they might not scream out that he was the fastest base runner of the era. That said, old Cy managed to get 87 doubles and 35 triples — and he even managed to get 18 home runs and has 29 stolen bases to his name. His slugging percentage of .282 and on-base percentage of .234 do not scream out that he should have pursued Babe Ruth’s path by moving from pitcher to full-time batter.
One interesting statistic that seems rather high for a pitcher holding a bat is that Cy Young’s 623 career hits somehow generated 290 runs batted in. That means that, without knowing how many might not have been counted outs and with different rules for the day, that the equivalent of 46.5% of his hits equated to 1 run scoring. And with it being the “Dead Ball Era” it makes one wonder if Cy’s hits were better in clutch time.
The pitcher Juaquin Andujar once won his whole game entirely by pitching a 4-hit complete game against the Montreal Expos in the Astrodome — and his own inside-the-park home run as a batter accounted for both of the Astros’ runs in that 2-1 victory. The great Nolan Ryan did something unheard of in his first game as an Astro in 1980 by hitting his first career home run off Don Sutton for a 3-run dinger. Still, Ryan’s greatness ended up in a 6-5 loss against the Dodgers in a 17-inning game.
THE BEST EVER E93 CY YOUNG THAT EXISTS
Before getting into this particular “best graded ever” 1910 E93 Standard Caramel card of Cy Young, those who like some “proof” of their own should do an image search of “Cy Young baseball cards” on Google and on Bing. Just about every one of these images shows Cy Young either in a portrait or in a pitching pose.
As for this best-ever graded example, Robert Edward Auctions is featuring a PSA 9 MINT graded card that comes with this designation “Only example graded at this level, with none graded higher!” This card also comes with a significant provenance from a great set on the PSA Registry that is being carved up in an April 2022 auction:
Presented is an exceptional ultra-high-grade example of Hall of Famer Cy Young in a batting pose from the highly desirable E93 Standard Caramel series. This card originates from the hobby’s finest E93 set ever assembled, which has spent twenty years atop the PSA Set Registry with an unparalleled 8.10 GPA. Built by collector Jim Blumenthal, the set was honored with induction in the PSA Set Registry Hall of Fame in 2008 and has few peers of this quality in the prewar-card realm.
This particular card has one thing in common with the 1909-11 T206 cards, and that is that the card is of Cy Young at the tail end of his great career. And while the E93 card lists his team as “Cleveland, Amer.” on the front of the card, he was clearly wearing a Boston Americans uniform as the jersey shows the Boston Americans’ “B A” logo across his chest. The image of the back of this card (below) is from Robert Edward Auctions.
As for how rare and scarce a PSA 9 is, remember that caramel cards sometimes all look alike as they frequently shared the same format and often the exact same image of the player from set to set. These caramel cards of that distant era were issued as one card per caramel package and they were generally sold to children rather than a mix of youngsters and adults for the tobacco cards of that era. Caramel cards tend to exist in lower grades than the tobacco cards as a result of staining and from kids mauling the cards as you have seen with most kids under 10 even today.
Rober Edward Auctions have some additional stats on the scarcity of a PSA 9 for this set in particular. Of the 1,913 total E93 graded cards by PSA, there were only 13 different cards that scored a PSA 9. There are no known PSA 10 examples of any player’s card in the E93 set. The auction house description concludes:
This is a stunning card! Bright, crisp, and perfectly clean, both front and back, with four sharp corners, outstanding centering, and a flawless image of Young set against a bright yellow background. The perfectly clean back features the checklist for the set. Caramel cards are rarely found in high grade, and even a common player from the E93 Standard Caramel issue in PSA MINT 9 condition would be noteworthy and extremely desirable. An ultra-high-grade example of one of the key Hall of Famers, Cy Young, is especially significant. This is a superb ultra-high-grade example of one of Cy Young’s most interesting and popular cards and one that would be an extremely significant highlight in even the most advanced “E” card, Hall of Famer, Cy Young, or world-class prewar-card collection.
CY YOUNG’s OTHER TOP CARD/MEMORABILIA SALES
And now you will get to see just why this 1910 Cy Young E93 Standard Caramel card with a PSA 9 is so special. The auction at the time we captured this data had seen only 209 total views. That said, the $25,000 reserve is not a problem for Robert Edward Auctions any longer. With 8 days and over 15 hours remaining, there have been 31 bids and the last bid was up at $105,000.00. Collectors Dashboard has already featured many other high-end Cy Young auctions over the last decade for his cards and memorabilia. We would caution that these do not necessarily have to represent the highest price ever paid for each of these items at all auction houses, but they are the highest we have tracked below.
The highest price of any Cy Young item sold so far by Heritage Auctions was a 1908 Cy Young game worn Boston Red Sox Uniform. This was way back on August 4, 2011 and it fetched $657,250.00 even a decade ago. Image here from Heritage Auctions.
Heritage Auctions also sold a 1909-11 T206 Piedmont 150 Cy Young (Bare Hand Shows) graded as PSA Mint 9 on September 20, 2018 for $168,000.00. That same card down to the same PSA certification number was sold on Heritage back on August 27, 2016 for a price of $143,400.00. Image below by Heritage Auctions.
An extremely rare 1891-92 Cy Young cabinet card (Ryder) from the then Cleveland Spiders out of the Jake Virtue Collection was sold for $130,027.00 in the SCP Auctions Spring-2018 auction. SCP also sold a “circa 1893” Cy Young Cabinet card (Pifer & Becker) for $97,508.00 from the same Jake Virtue Collection in the same Spring-2018 auction — and a signed example of the same card from Cy Young’s personal collection had sold via SCP in a Summer-2014 auction event. Image below by SCP Auctions.
A very rare 1893 Cy Young Cabinet Card which was signed twice and graded as PSA/DNA Authentic sold on February 25, 2017 for a sum of $120,000.00.
Heritage’s highest price for a 1909-11 T206 Piedmont 150 Cy Young (Portrait) graded PSA NM-MT 8 sold on September 20, 2018 for $114,000.00. Image below by Heritage Auctions.
Heritage’s highest price for a 1911 T205 Piedmont Cy Young graded PSA NM+ 7.5 sold on February 26, 2022 for $99,000.00.
An autographed 1947 Cy Young single-signed baseball in exquisite condition was sold through Heritage on May 13, 2016 for the price of $43,020.00 at that time. Baseball image below by Heritage Auctions.
PWCC Marketplace sold a 1910 E98 Set Of 30 Cy Young Red Back example, likely from the Black Swamp Find due to its PSA 10 Gem Mint status for the price of $100,000 on September 15, 2020. Image below by PWCC Marketplace.
A 1903 E107 Breisch-Williams Cy Young graded only as “A” PSA sold for $45,000 in the 2017 Fall Auction at Robert Edward Auctions.
That should be solid enough of provenance and examples to know that Cy Young’s prized cards. particularly the rarest and best graded examples, can fetch more than a pretty penny.