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This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: June 11th, Dave Cash and Frank Thomas


There are three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, two of them who had significant careers with the Pirates.

Dave Cash, second baseman for the 1969-73 Pirates. 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 at-bats 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. He spent the next season back in Salem, this time though, it was a promotion to the Carolina League. He hit .277 with 27 extra-base hits over 124 games. Cash moved up to Triple-A for 1969, where he batted .291 with 49 RBIs 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 Triple-A, 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 RBIs 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. He hit .289 with 46 walks, 13 steals and 79 runs scored. In the playoffs, he batted .421 in the NLCS, scoring five runs in the four-game series. In the World Series, he had a rough time, going 4-for-30 with two runs scored and three walks, though the Pirates still won.

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-for-19 with three RBIs in the playoff loss to the Reds. In 1973, he started 85 games at second base and 16 at third base, batting .271 with 59 runs scored.

On October 18, 1973, the Pirates traded Cash 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 at-bats all three seasons, made the All-Star team all three years and averaged 203 hits per season. He 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. He played 1,422 major league games, hitting .283 with 1,571 hits, 732 runs scored and 120 stolen bases. He was tough to strikeout his entire career, finishing with 309 strikeouts in 6,057 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, outfielder for the 1951-58 Pirates. 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 to start 1949, then finished 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 two levels, hitting .294 with 45 extra-base hits. Thomas began the 1951 season at Double-A 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 RBIs 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 that year and would stick in the majors for good. His 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 RBIs in only 128 games. The 1954 season saw him play 153 games, hitting .298 with 94 RBIs 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 a down year. He made the All-Star team again, but his .245 average and 72 RBIs were his low marks during his six full seasons with the team.

Thomas 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 RBIs. He improved to .290 with 89 RBIs the next season, then followed that up with his best year. In 1958, Thomas made his third All-Star team and set career highs with 89 runs scored, 35 homers and 109 RBIs. 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. He 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 1,766 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 RBIs in 925 games. His home run total ranks eighth in franchise history.

Brock Holt, infielder for the 2012 Pirates. He was a ninth round pick in 2009 and worked his way to the majors just three years later. Despite being a September call-up in 2012, the Pirates used Holt full-time over the last month. He hit .292/.329/.354 in 24 games. After the season, he was traded to the Boston Red Sox, along with Joel Hanrahan, in a deal that brought Mark Melancon back to Pittsburgh. Holt played sparingly in 2013, then started receiving full-time work in 2014. He was an All-Star as a utility player in 2015. He remained with the Red Sox through 2019 and currently has a .271/.340/.374 slash line in 639 career games. He signed with the Milwaukee Brewers for the 2020 season.

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John Dreker
John Dreker
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball. When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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