The 1971 NL Cy Young Award went to Ferguson Jenkins of the Chicago Cubs. The right-handed pitcher became the first Cubs pitcher and first Canadian to win the Cy Young Award. To win the Cy Young, Jenkins posted a 24-13 record and a 2.77 ERA and struck out 263 batters.
Jenkins was born on Dec. 13, 1943 in Catham, Ontario, Canada. He was an accomplished athlete by the time he was in high school and he excelled in basketball and hockey as well as baseball.
Jenkins started his professional baseball career in 1962 when the Philadelphia Phillies signed him. He would not make his first major league appearance until 1965 as a 22-year-old relief pitcher. His Phillies career wouldn’t last much longer, though, as he was traded the following year to the Chicago Cubs.
It wouldn’t take the Cubs long to realize the benefits of having Jenkins. In 1967, his first full year with the team, he won 20 games while posting a 2.80 ERA and 236 strikeouts. He was selected for the 1967 All-Star team and finished second for the NL Cy Young award in the first year the award was given to a pitcher from each league.
Jenkins continued to thrive in Chicago’s Wrigley Field despite its reputation as a hitter’s ballpark. In 1971, the year he won the NL Cy Young Award, he opened up the season with an opening -day complete game in a 2-1, 10 inning win at Wrigley Field. It was the first of 30 complete games that Jenkins would throw. He received a decision in 37 out of 39 starts that season and walked 37 batters versus 263 strikeouts across 325 innings.
For his 1971 achievements, Jenkins received 17 of 24 first place votes for the NL Cy Young to win the award. He won it despite the fact that New York Mets pitcher had a higher winning percentage, more strikeouts, and a lower ERA.
Jenkins would leave the Chicago Cubs at the end of the 1973 season after seven years with the team. The Cubs traded him to the Texas Rangers, where he continued to thrive. He won a personal best 25 games during the 1974 season, a Rangers record which still stands.
Jenkins would play for the Rangers from 1974 to 1975. He then played for Boston from 1976 to 1977 before coming back to the Rangers from 1978 to 1981. He would finish his Major League career with the Cubs, where he would play his final season in 1983. After his retirement from major league Baseball, he played two seasons for the London Majors of the Intercounty Major Baseball League in London, Ontario.
Jenkins is one of four major league pitchers to record more than 3,000 strikeouts with fewer than 1,000 walks. He led the league in wins twice, fewest walks per 9 innings five times, complete games nine times, and had a streak of six straight seasons with 20 or more wins (1967-1972).
In 1991, Jenkins became the first Canadian ever elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. He was revered in Canada throughout his career, winning the Canadian Press male athlete of the year four times. In 1974,he became the first baseball player to win the Lou Marsh Trophy, a trophy that is awarded annually to Canada’s top athlete.