Monday, June 13, 2011

#153 Norm Cash

#153 Norm Cash
Norm Cash appears to be posing in front of his parents' country home. I guess spring training facilities have changed a lot over the last 50 years.

Fun facts about Norm Cash:

-A native of Justiceburg, TX, Norm starred in both football and baseball at Sul Ross State University. He turned down a contract offer from the NFL's Bears and signed with the White Sox in 1955.

-He debuted with Chicago in 1958, seeing action in 13 games in June and July. His first hit was a single off of Hall of Famer Jim Bunning on July 6, 1958.

-Cash was traded twice between end of the 1959 season and the beginning of the following season. First he went to the Indians in a seven-player deal that brought Minnie Minoso back to the White Sox. Then he was dealt from Cleveland to Detroit in early April 1960 for Steve Demeter, who would play only four games with the Tribe.

-Norm practically came out of nowhere in 1961, leading the American League with 193 hits, a .361 average, a .487 on-base percentage, and a 1.148 OPS. He also ranked highly with 119 runs scored, 41 home runs, 132 RBI, and a .662 slugging percentage. He earned the first of four career All-Star nods, and finished fourth in MVP voting behind Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, and Jim Gentile.

-Though he never again reached the lofty numbers of that 1961 season, Cash topped 20 homers 10 times in an 11-year span, and was league runner-up 3 times (39 in 1962, 30 in 1965, and 32 in 1971).

-He acquitted himself well in the 1968 World Series, batting .385 (10-for-26) with 5 runs scored, a home run, and 5 RBI. He drove in a pair of runs in Game 5 and another pair in Game 6 - both Tigers wins.

-Norm was known for his sense of humor. He and the Tigers were on the other end of Nolan Ryan's second career no-hitter on July 15, 1973. The powerful first baseman struck out twice in his first three at-bats, and he was due up with two outs in the ninth inning. He strode to the plate with a table leg from the clubhouse (mistakenly called a piano leg by Ernie Harwell) instead of a bat. Umpire Ron Luciano told him he couldn't use it, and Cash responded that it didn't matter, because he wouldn't hit him anyway. He grabbed his bat, and popped out to shortstop Rudy Meoli to seal the no-hitter.

-Detroit released him in August 1974, bringing an end to his career. In parts of 17 seasons, he hit .271 with a .374 on-base percentage. He hit 377 home runs and drove in 1,103 runs. Incredibly, he never hit a walkoff home run, though 117 of his longballs gave his team the lead.

-Cash spent time broadcasting games for ABC and for the Tigers, and won two championships with the Detroit Caesars slow-pitch softball team. The club was owned by future Tigers boss Mike Ilitch, and Cash's former teammate Jim Northrup was also a part-time player.

-Not-so-fun fact: Norm was riding in a boat off Beaver Island in northern Lake Michigan in October 1986 when he slipped, struck his head, and drowned. He was 51 years old. He was posthumously inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 2001.
#153 Norm Cash (back)


  1. The Nolan Ryan story is the kind of thing that would never happen today or, if it did, the media and fans would react with outrage. Players today are expected to never show weakness or doubt even humorously. I think players back then (and certainly fans and media) took things less seriously, maybe because the players made a lot less money.

    Jim Northrup died this week as well. This makes me feel old; I remember watching these guys in the 1968 World Series (although those games were in the day so I couldn't see much being in school).

  2. Marc - Yeah, the whole 24-7 news cycle really gets to be exhausting. Everyone was ready to tar and feather Bryce Harper (Nats' top prospect) for blowing a kiss to a pitcher after homering off of him, and they didn't even have the whole story. It turns out the pitcher had been mouthing off to him.

  3. The cool thing about the photo of Cash in spring training is that it's probably in Lakeland, where the Tigers still train today. I wonder if that house/shed is still there. If so, you probably can't see it from inside the complex anymore, though.

  4. Dan - Yeah, there aren't many teams that still train in the same place they have since the 1960s. Even the Dodgers abandoned Vero Beach.