Cash Remembers Hall of Famers Lost In 2020
During his 12-year MLB career, Utican Dave Cash played with and against some of the game's greatest.
Surprisingly, having played his final big league baseball game 40 years ago, Cash remembers his days in the game with meticulous detail. From 1969, when he made his debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates, until he took off his San Diego Padres jersey on October 5, 1980 for the last time, the Proctor High graduate saw up close many of baseball's all-time greats.
"He was dynamic," Cash said during a recent telephone conversation from his Central Florida home of the late hall of famer Lou Brock. " (Brock) made the defense stay on their toes because of his speed. He was a good outfielder; a gamer, who played everyday and played hard."
Brock was one of seven hall of famers who passed in 2020. There's excitement in Cash's voice as he reaches back to recall times in his career that he was either a teammate or opponent of those who would go onto to land a permanent clubhouse stay in Cooperstown, New York.
"I learned a lot from him , by watching (Brock) play. Back then, since the Cardinals were in the same division (Cash starred for Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Montreal, before finishing up his all-star career with the Padres in 1980), we played them 12 times a season. When Brock was on base, you knew he was going to run, but you just didn't know when."
Brock, who was inducted into the hall of fame in 1985, finished his playing career with 938 stolen bases. At the time, this was an all-time record until being passed by future hall of famer Rickey Henderson who would swipe 1,406 bags during his remarkable career.
It's memories Cash has of being on the same field as Brock, including being teammates for two all-star games (1974 & 1975) when he was Philadelphia's starting second baseman, that remind him of being in the shadow of baseball greatness constantly.
During three all-star appearances for Cash, there would be a combined 26 future hall of famers on the American and National Leagues rosters.
Tom Seaver, "Mr. Met" to millions of fans who watched the gifted pitcher make his mark in the game in Queens, was someone who Cash labels as having had unbelievable control. Armed with a tremendous fastball and an outstanding slider, Cash doesn't hesitate to claim that Seaver was one of the best pitchers he faced in his career.
"He (Seaver) had great instincts, and was a great competitor. Tom ( elected into the hall of fame in 1992) was an outstanding human being on and off the field."
Even though having played his entire career in the National League, Cash crossed base lines with those in the junior circuit, aside from the All-Star Classic and World Series.
"I used to hate the Yankees. They always beat up on my Dodgers. Whitey Ford was before my time. But, I watched him pitch a lot on TV, and he could put the ball where he wanted," Cash explains of his growing up a fan of Los Angeles baseball, and the "Chairman of the Board" who was elected to the hall of fame in 1974.
"(Ford) always kept hitters off balance, and was very, very successful. He had great teams behind him."
Hall of Famer Al Kaline was another American Leaguer who Cash crossed paths with.
"I played against Al in spring training. They (Detroit Tigers) trained in Lakeland , and we (Pirates) were in Bradenton. As a rookie, I was always on the bus trips for road games and saw him a lot," said Cash. " Al was a five-tool guy who could do it all, and he never spent a day in the minors."
From Kaline, who was inducted into the hall of fame in 1980, Cash shifts his reminiscing to the late St. Louis Cardinal pitcher Bob Gibson.
"Intimidating, without a doubt. Gibson and Seaver were the best I faced. He didn't want to take any prisoners. He pitched the only no-hitter against me - ever. Little League high school, the minors, I was never no-hit until Bob no-hit us in Pittsburgh at Three Rivers in 1971", Cash tells.
Cash believes he should have had at least three hits that game at home.
"I hit three balls right on the nose. Man, I thought I had three hits. As an athlete, a competitor, you always want to face the best. Bob brought the best out of me. I hit over .350 against him. He would never mess around with me, with the breaking ball. With the guys I had hitting behind me in Pittsburgh, he didn't want to walk me. So, I got a lot of fastballs."
From Gibson, who was inducted into the hall of fame in 1981 after a stellar 17-year career with the Cardinals, Cash's memories remain in the senior circuit. Joe Morgan. Where many baseball fans have lasting memories of Morgan as the leadoff hitter during the Cincinnati Reds' championship seasons of the 1970's, for Cash, it's when "Little Joe" was with the Houston Astros that he became familiar with the Class of 1990 hall of famer.
"Joe had speed and could hit with power," says Cash of the two-time National League MVP, and integral part of the Big Red Machine championship clubs.
"He (Morgan) and Jimmy Wynn, the Toy Cannon, they made up the power at the Astrodome. Joe was a tremendous competitor, base stealer, could walk, and hit the ball out of the park. The Pirates teams I was on, we battled those guys like it was war, then after the games we'd shake hands."
Having collected more than 1,500 hits in 1,400-plus games during his career in the big leagues, the 1971 season stands out among all as the most memorable for Cash.
It was during this season the Washington Senators would play their last in our nation's capital, and head to Texas in 1972, and become the Rangers. Satchel Paige would enter the hall of fame as the first Negro Leagues player to be so honored, Vida Blue earned MVP and Cy Young Awards in the American League, while the Pirates' Roberto Clemente earned MVP honors in the National League.
Two other, more personal rewards, were celebrated by Cash. Pittsburgh won the World Series over the Baltimore Orioles. The seven-game affair concluded at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium, with a 2-1 win. In the Series Cash collected 4 hits and walked three times.
At about one month prior to the Pirates' march to a world championship, on September 1, 1971 at Three Rivers Stadium, the Phillies were in town. Pirates' manager Danny Murtaugh's lineup card penciled in MLB's first-ever all-black starting nine in the game's history. Cash was the starting third baseman in this Pittsburgh victory over Philly.
At 72-years-old, Cash gives every indication that he is is happy, healthy, and excited about what tomorrow could bring. Proud of his Utica past, Cash is an athlete with Mohawk Valley roots who achieved greatness in sports at the highest level, and enjoyed every stop along the way.
Don Laible is a freelance sportswriter living in the Mohawk Valley. He has reported on professional baseball and hockey for print, radio, and on the web since the 1980's. His columns are featured weekly at WIBX950.com. Don can be contacted via email at Don@icechipsdiamonddust.com.