This Date in Pirates History: June 11

There are only two former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date and no major transactions but the two players were fairly significant in Pirates history. In his Jolly Roger Rewind, John Fredland recaps a game featuring one of the birthday boys.

Dave Cash (1948) Second baseman for the Pirates from 1969 until 1973. He was a fifth round draft pick by the Pirates out of high school in 1966, signing quickly and reporting to Salem of the Appalachian League. Cash played 58 games, hitting .266 in 192 AB’s during his first season in the pros. He moved up to full-season ball in 1967 and excelled, batting .335 in 114 games for Gastonia. Dave spent the next season back in Salem, this time though, it was in the Carolina League, a higher level of A ball. He hit .277 with 27 extra base hits over 124 games, in what would be his last full season spent in the minors. Cash moved up to AAA for 1969, batting .291 with 49 RBI’s in 115 games. In September he got his first major league shot, starting the last 17 games of the season at second base for the Pirates, hitting .279 with eight runs scored. Bill Mazeroski was out with a leg injury and the team wasn’t sure if he would be ready for the 1970 season.

Cash began the 1970 season back in AAA, getting called up to the majors in late May. It would be the last time he played minor league ball. He started 53 of the last 115 games at second base for the Pirates, batting .314 with 28 RBI’s and 30 runs scored. In 1971, Cash was the Pirates starting second baseman for most of the season, playing 123 games on the year, which was his high while with Pittsburgh. He actually missed three weeks in July, then played some third base when he returned. Dave hit .289 with 46 walks, 13 steals and 79 runs scored. In the playoffs, he hit .421 in the NLCS, scoring five runs in the four game series. In the World Series, he went 4-30 with two runs scored and three walks. In 1972, Cash hit .282 with 58 runs scored and 120 hits in 99 games. He missed two weeks in July while he served with the Marine Reserves and missed extended time in September with a thumb injury. Dave went 4-19 in the playoff loss to the Reds, driving home three runs, although he himself didn’t score any runs. In 1973, he started 85 games at 2B and 16 at 3B, batting .271 with 59 runs scored.

On October 18,1973, the Pirates traded Dave to the Philadelphia Phillies for pitcher Ken Brett. For Cash, the move was great for his career. He got to play full-time with the Phillies, playing 162, 162 and 160 games during his three seasons in Philadelphia. He led the NL in AB’s all three seasons, made the All-Star team all three years and averaged 203 hits per season. Dave signed with the Expos as a free agent in 1977, posting two more solid seasons before assuming a bench role in 1979. He took over the second base job late in the year, then was traded to the San Diego Padres in the off-season. Cash played one more year before he was released just prior to the 1981 season, ending his playing career. Dave played 1422 major league games, hitting .283 with 1571 hits, 732 runs scored and 120 stolen bases. He was tough to strikeout his entire career, finishing with 309 strikeouts in 6057 plate appearances. While with the Pirates, Cash had a .282 average, with 234 runs scored in 420 games. He led NL second baseman in fielding percentage three times, once(1972) while with Pittsburgh.

Frank Thomas (1929) Outfielder for the Pirates from 1951 until 1958. The Pirates signed the Pittsburgh,Pa native as an amateur in 1947, with his first pro action coming for Tallahassee of the Georgia-Florida League in 1948, where he hit .295 with 14 homers and 39 doubles. He repeated the level the next season to start the year, finishing the season with a promotion to Class-B ball, two levels higher than Tallahassee. In 1950, he began to make his move towards the majors, splitting the year between A/AA, hitting .294 with 45 extra base hits. Frank began the 1951 season at AA New Orleans, where he hit .289 with 23 homers, earning his first promotion to the Pirates in mid-August. In 39 games, he hit .264 with 16 RBI’s and 21 runs scored.

While the 1952 Pirates struggled to score runs and win games(they went 42-112), Thomas toiled in the minors, batting .303 with 35 homers and 40 doubles for New Orleans. He was a September call-up, there to stay in Pittsburgh through the 1958 season. Frank’s first full season in Pittsburgh was an impressive one, as he took over the slugger role from the recently traded Ralph Kiner. Thomas connected on 30 homers and 102 RBI’s in only 128 games. The 1954 season saw him play 153 games, hitting .298 with 94 RBI’s and 81 runs scored. He was selected to his first All-Star team that year, one of three times he went to the mid-season classic while with Pittsburgh. His impressive 1954 season was followed up by his worst year in Pittsburgh, although it was still an acceptable year. He made the All-Star team again, but his .245 average and 72 RBI’s were his low marks during his six full seasons with the team.

Frank began to go through position switches while with Pittsburgh, spending most of his time at third base in 1956, then playing all four corner positions in 1957, with most of his time coming at first base. In 1958, he was back at third base. Even after he left Pittsburgh, he would switch from first base to left field to third base as he moved from team to team. Thomas played an NL leading 157 games in 1956, hitting .282 with 80 RBI’s. He improved to .290 with 89 RBI’s the next season, then followed that up with his best year. In 1958, Frank made his third All-Star team and set career highs with 89 runs scored, 35 homers and 109 RBI’s. He finished fourth in the NL MVP voting.

On January 30,1959, the Pirates traded Thomas to the Cincinnati Reds in a seven player deal that brought Don Hoak, Harvey Haddix and Smoky Burgess back to Pittsburgh. Frank struggled with the Reds after the trade and would be dealt to the Cubs after just one season. From there he jumped around, spending time with the Braves, Mets, Phillies, Astros, then back with the Braves again before finishing  in 1966 back with the Cubs. Thomas was a .266 career hitter over 1766 major league games. He belted 286 career homers and drove in 962 runs. While with the Pirates, he hit .275 with 163 homers and 562 RBI’s in 925 games. His home run total ranks seventh in franchise history.

Jolly Roger Rewind: June 11, 1958

Frank Thomas celebrated his twenty-ninth birthday by belting two home runs, including a second-inning grand slam, and driving in seven runs to lead the Pirates to a 14-6 victory over the Giants at Seals Stadium.

Thomas started his big day by drawing a bases-loaded walk off Ruben Gomez in the first inning. A two-run Roberto Clemente single and Giants’ pitching change later, Bill Mazeroski snapped a streak of eighteen hitless at-bats with a three-run homer off Ray Crone, and the Bucs were off to a 6-0 lead.

Three Buccos again occupied the bases when Thomas came to bat in the top of the second. This time, he drove Crone’s pitch into the left field stands for his second career grand slam, giving the Pirates an insurmountable 10-2 advantage.

The Bucs’ third baseman concluded his offensive spree with a two-run homer off Mike McCormick in the sixth inning. He finished the day with 19 home runs and 57 runs batted in, both good for best the major leagues.*

Staked to the early lead, Vernon Law labored through six and two thirds innings to earn the victory. He surrendered three home runs; most notably, Giants rookie Felipe Alou, playing in only his fourth major league game, connected in the fifth inning for his first big-league home run. Elroy Face retired the last seven Giants’ batters to close out the victory.

Box score and play-by-play:

Pittsburgh Press game story:

* Jack Hernon’s lede in the Pittsburgh Press hailed Thomas’ success: “SAN FRANCISCO, June 11—Actually, this should be datelined ‘Frank Thomas, Cal.’ And instead of calling it Seals Stadium, it should be ‘Frank Thomas Stadium.’”




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