By Bob Barrickman
Beaver County Times
July 19, 2011
"He was a very big influence," said Cash, now 63, said of Bill Mazeroski. "He was the reason why I was able to make the transition from shortstop to second base. I had never played second before in my life."
A fifth-round choice of the Pirates in the 1966 amateur draft, Cash was groomed to take over for Mazeroski in the early 1970s. By 1971, Cash became the team's regular at second and batted .289 for the world champion Pirates that season. But the Pirates had a rare surplus of talented second basemen in their system -- including Rennie Stennett and Willie Randolph in the minors.
The Bucs thought Cash expendable and traded him to the Phillies for lefthander Ken Brett after the 1973 season. Stennett assumed the starting job for the Pirates.
"It was very difficult leaving the Pirates," admitted Cash. "But, I went to a larger market to try to help a team that finished in last place (in 1973)."
Cash flourished with the Phillies in 1974 and help made them contenders in the NL East. He hit with increasing regularity: 206 hits that years before leading the league with 213 hits in 1975 while batting .305. He helped the Phillies win the division in 1976 and made three All-Star teams as a Phillie.
"The things I learned in Pittsburgh, I took to Philadelphia with me," he said.
Randolph, incidentally, was traded in 1975 and became a perennial All-Star for the Yankees.
Cash signed with the Expos as a free agent following the 1976 season. He played three years there before finishing his 12-year playing career with the Padres in 1980. Cash batted a career .283 and drove in 426 runs.
Cash was a member of three NL East-winning teams in Pittsburgh (1970-72), his best moments coming when he had eight hits in 19 at bats in the 1971 NLCS win over the Giants.
Cash also remembered the fans during those glory days at Three Rivers Stadium.
"We couldn't have done it without the fans," he said. "In a 162-game schedule, there's no way you can come out every day and feel good. Sometimes, to hear that crowd makes you inspired to do your job."
A native of Utica, N.Y., Cash has made his home near Tampa, Fla. for 18 years. And this year, he's actually spending some time there. After a post-playing career spent as a coach in a number of organizations and with two independent teams, Cash retired from baseball after last season.
"When you get to my age, it's time to retire," said Cash.