An integral player on the 1971 World Series Championship team in Pittsburgh, a three-time All-Star and Most Valuable Player vote-getter in Philadelphia, Dave Cash spent his 12-year career as a reliable and often stellar second baseman. Cash has been credited with coining the phrase ‘Yes We Can’ as the Phillies ended their 26-year postseason drought in 1976.
David Cash was born on June 11, 1948, to David Cash Sr. and Florence Cash in Utica, New York.1 Cash was the middle child of three. He had a younger brother Earl and older brother Herbert.2 Cash starred in three sports at Utica’s Proctor High School: football, basketball and baseball. He hit over .400 in both his junior and senior years. His basketball prowess, averaging 24 points per game, gained the attention of Syracuse University.3 However, when they delayed in making an offer, and because Cash had idolized Jackie Robinson in his youth, he turned his focus to baseball.4
He was drafted out of high school in the fifth round of the June 1966 amateur draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He made his way through the Pirates’ farm system rather quickly. After a season at Salem (rookie ball) in 1966, Cash had a great season the following year with Gastonia of the Western Carolinas League (Class A). His stellar year included a league-leading 148 hits, yielding a fourth-highest .335 batting average. In addition, Cash finished in the top 10 in runs scored, doubles, on base percentage, total bases, and stolen bases.
Cash played for the Salem Rebels (Class A) in 1968, followed by an invitation to the Pirates’ entry in the Florida Instructional League. In 1969, he played 115 games with the Columbus Jets (Triple-A). He hit a team-leading .291 and led the IL in triples, earning a September call-up to the Pirates.
Cash made his major-league debut on September 13, 1969, being inserted as a pinch-runner late in a game against the Mets. In 18 games for the Pirates he hit a respectable .279 (17-for-61). Just a week after his debut, Cash experienced an early, unexpected career highlight. He manned second base for the Pirates as Bob Moose threw a no-hitter on September 20, 1969 at Shea Stadium in New York City. He handled five ground balls, a force play at second from short, and a lineout. One of those plays was the final out of the game: a grounder off the bat of Art Shamsky to complete the gem. A young and confident Cash said, “If Shamsky hits the ball anywhere close to me, Moose will have his no-hitter.”5
In 1970, Cash spent another 35 games in Columbus, hitting .313, before being promoted to the Bucs for good. He was stuck behind the veteran and future Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski. But he watched, learned, and took advantage of his playing time when he got his chances, hitting .314. Still just 22 years of age, he played in 64 games for the Bucs, and showed enough promise to earn a spot on the postseason roster. He started the first two games of the NLCS, going 1-for-8, as the Pirates were swept by the Reds.
As spring training opened for the Pirates in 1971, Cash was again in competition for the starting second base position. In his reserve role the prior year, Cash displayed speed, range, and the ability to hit major-league pitching, skills that were in decline for Mazeroski. But Mazeroski was still one of the team leaders and consistent in the field. While he was in competition for more playing time, the Pittsburgh media reported that Cash was considered articulate, intelligent, hard-working, disciplined, and unselfish.6 These characteristics helped him be patient, and after just the first four games of season, Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh began to use Cash more and more. Murtaugh’s confidence in him was rewarded — Cash was hitting .347 on June 8. His play prompted the skipper to advocate that Cash be named an All-Star, though he didn’t make the squad. He’d have to wait a couple more years for that.
Despite missing several games while on military reserve duty,7 he ended up playing in 123 games that year, including 24 games at third and a handful at shortstop. He became an integral part of the team as they headed toward a second consecutive NL East crown. He finished with a .289 batting average. According to Willie Stargell, he was so cool and calm under pressure that Stargell and his teammates called him A.C., which stood for ‘air conditioning.’8
On September 1, 1971, one of the highlights of Cash’s career was to be part of the first all-Black lineup in big-league history. As documented in Bruce Markusen’s book, The Team that Changed Baseball, Cash was the starting third baseman, hitting sixth in the lineup on that historic day in Pittsburgh.9 He drove in a run during the Pirates’ five-run first inning, and the Bucs went on to win 10-7.
Having established himself as the starting second baseman, it was no surprise that Cash started and batted leadoff for the Pirates in every game of the NLCS and the World Series. He hit .421 in the NLCS against the San Francisco Giants. While he hit only .133 in the World Series, he played well defensively, including a couple of key clutch plays in the seventh game win. His defense was much appreciated by winning pitcher Steve Blass, as the Pirates, known as the “Lumber Company” back then, became World Champions.10 It was the only World Series title of Cash’s career. It was also Roberto Clemente’s signature World Series. “‘The best player I’ve ever played with,’ Cash said after the series, ‘was Roberto Clemente — without a doubt. Clemente could do it all. He could hit with power, he could run, and he could throw. And at any time, he was a great clutch hitter.’”11
Heading into the 1972 season, Mazeroski had clearly moved into a limited role. Cash started the majority of the Pirates’ games at second base. While the aging Mazeroski played just 15 games at second, Cash found himself sharing the position with hot-hitting rookie Rennie Stennett. Cash played in 99 games and hit .282 during the season. The Bucs ran away with the NL East, but lost a heartbreaker in five games to the Reds in the NLCS.
The 1973 Pirates entered spring training mourning the loss of their team leader, Clemente, who died in a plane crash delivering relief goods to earthquake victims in Nicaragua on New Year’s Eve 1972. Like most Pirate teammates Cash had immense respect and admiration for Clemente. He had played winter ball after the 1970 season for Clemente’s Puerto Rican Winter League team, the San Juan Senators.12 Cash had lost a friend. He had spent a lot of time with Clemente. “I lived in the same complex as Robby,” he told a biographer. “We used to ride to the ball park together. Robby was a very good friend.” He added, “We were shocked to hear of his death, but not shocked at what he was doing.”13
As the 1973 season got rolling, Cash continued to share playing time at second base with Stennett. Each man played additional positions so manager Bill Virdon could keep both in the lineup more often. Cash hit .271 in 116 games.
On October 18, 1973, Cash was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for pitcher Ken Brett. He played with Philadelphia for the next three seasons. “Being traded wasn’t a surprise,’ he said. “I just didn’t know what ball club I’d be going to.”14 He’d discussed the deal with Phillies manager Danny Ozark. “They felt like they needed a second baseman who could play every day, and that’s why they got me.”15 It proved a good trade for both teams — Cash and Brett would become All-Star representatives for their new teams in 1974.
What the Phillies got with the trade was more than just an All-Star second baseman. Cash became one of the team’s leaders. Coming from a Pirate club that had won three of the last four NL East titles, he knew how to win. His confidence carried over to the Phillies’ locker room and he was given much credit by the Philadelphia media for the “Yes We Can” attitude that soon permeated the team.16 He also garnered some MVP votes, finishing 14th in the voting in 1974. And the team immediately improved, rising from dead last in the division in 1973 to third in 1974.
Cash had one of his best seasons in 1975. His 213 hits led the major leagues. He also led the league in plate appearances and at-bats. He hit .305 on his way to his second straight All-Star game. He scored a career-high 111 runs. His leadership and “Yes We Can” mantra in the clubhouse continued to inspire teammates. The Phillies improved again in 1975. After seven straight seasons below .500, they won 86 games, rising to second place. “I knew the man had leadership qualities,” complimented general manager Paul Owens, “but, no one ever expected him to do such a super job of showing us how to win.”17
Another notable highlight from that 1975 season is that Cash and his double-play partner, Larry Bowa both hit over .300. It was the first time a second base and shortstop combination both hit over .300 since the 1949 Chicago White Sox combination of 2B Cass Michaels (.308) and SS Luke Appling (.301). The last National League double play combo to hit as well was a year earlier when 2B Eddie Stanky (.320) and SS Alvin Dark (.322) did it for the Boston Braves.18 It wasn’t a surprise, considering that the first thing Cash did when he heard he was going to be a Phillie before the ’74 season was to call Bowa and ask when they could get together. They met at spring training in Clearwater, Florida — three weeks before the full squad was required to show up.19
In 1976, the Phillies continued to rise, thanks in part to Cash’s leadership.20 He did it by example. Cash led the league in at-bats for the third straight year. It was part of a run of top-three finishes in plate appearance five years in a row. When Cash sat for the second game of a doubleheader on September 26, he ended the longest active consecutive games played streak at 494. In addition, he led the league in triples with 12 and was selected to his third straight All Star game. At season’s end, he received MVP votes for the third straight year as well.
More importantly, Cash was one of the key players who led the Phillies to a 101-win season. By winning the NL East, the Phils entered the postseason for the first time since the 1950 “Whiz Kids.” Unfortunately for them, even though Cash hit .308 during the NLCS, they were swept by the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds, famed as the “Big Red Machine” during that period, featured several future Hall of Famers, and they won the World Series by sweeping the New York Yankees.
Cash became a free agent at the conclusion of the season and signed a five-year contract with the Montreal Expos. Despite his leadership and hitting prowess with the Phillies, Cash felt unappreciated and was looking forward to building a contender in Montreal. “If I could help Philadelphia, I can help Montreal,” Cash said, “I didn’t necessarily look for a contender, I looked for someone I could help. Potentially, this can become a strong club. There’s a lot of young talent. We’ll come along.”21 Plus he was thrilled with the length of the contract. “I don’t have to worry about where I’m going to be tomorrow or the day after. I want security for my family. It isn’t fun to pick up and move your family.”22
His new Montreal teammates were thrilled to get him too. Expos’ sinkerball pitcher Steve Rogers said “It’s a super acquisition. Cash is capable of giving us 200 hits a season. And he’s one of the best second basemen in the league.”23 His new double-play partner was equally pleased. “I’m very happy,” shortstop Tim Foli said, “The Expos have pulled off a master stroke.”24
While the Phillies had a good season without Cash, several teammates bemoaned the void he left on the team and in the locker room. “Dave is a great friend,” said Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt. “Nobody ever helped me more. He pumped me up with confidence when we met in ’74.”25
Cash spent the next three seasons with Expos. The acquisition of Cash added to the excitement of the Expos moving into Olympic Stadium.26 During the 1977 season in Montreal, he hit .289 with 91 runs scored. It was his third straight season scoring at least 90 runs. His 21 stolen bases marked the second time he’d swiped 20 in a season.
Off the field, Cash made a lifestyle change which he believed benefited his play: he became a vegetarian. He said it made him feel quicker in the field. When interviewed in May 1978, Cash said, “I could talk all day about what it has done for me.” He went on to say, “All I know is how I feel and that is much better than I ever have. I feel stronger. I know I am quicker. I wake up earlier in the morning and am ready to go. I feel more alert.”27 Yet, despite feeling better and stronger and playing in 159 games, several of his hitting numbers fell. His batting average dipped to .252 and he scored only 66 runs, after four straight seasons of 89 or more. After previously posting consistently good averages, it marked the first time in his major league career that he hit below .270. Some observers blamed his vegetarian diet for the production drop.28
In spring training 1979, manager Dick Williams tabbed Rodney Scott as the starting second baseman, and Scott held that role for most of the 1979 season.29 While Cash spent significant portions of the summer on the bench, he nevertheless hit .321 for the season in 76 games. Most notably, he played very well down the stretch as the Expos had to play eight doubleheaders in the month of September because of rainouts. 30 After being given his job back on August 27, he hit in 17 of his first 19 games while he was in the starting lineup. The Expos won 17 of those 19 games as well, including a streak of ten. In all, they won 25 of the final 34 games Cash started. Unfortunately, the Expos came up two games short of the Pirates, who went on to be World Series champions.
After the 1979 season, Cash was traded to San Diego for Bill Almon and Dan Briggs in November. One teammate excited about the trade was future Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith. As Cash arrived with the Padres, so did slick-fielding Aurelio Rodriguez from Detroit. “I haven’t ever had a top-flight second baseman or third baseman to work with,” Smith said. “It will be a new experience. It should make me a better shortstop.”31 In fact, Smith led the NL in double plays in 1980. Cash played in 130 games for the Padres in 1980, but hit a career-low .227, over 50 points below his career average.
It turned out that San Diego was his final stop as a player in the majors. He played his final game on October 5, 1980, getting two hits in his finale. Cash went to spring training in 1981 but was released as the season started on April 4. He hit just .172 in the exhibition games for the Padres, yet it was still a shock to him to be let go. Cash said, “I know I hadn’t produced during the spring, but I was playing on a slightly injured knee. It occurred in batting practice, and the knee bothered me a bit after that. I’m not using it as an excuse, but it did have an effect.”32 After his release, he attempted to catch on with a team that would be a contender, but things never worked out.33
Cash, a fine contact hitter, finished with a .283 lifetime average. He never struck out more than 34 times in a major-league season. This was remarkable because he had five seasons with 700 or more plate appearances. He led the league in at-bats per strike out three times, and was in the top ten in that category six times. In 1976, he made 223 plate appearances without striking out — the longest such streak in the expansion era (from 1961 on) and second only to Joe Sewell’s run of 115 games and 516 plate appearances in 1929. Cash also led the league twice in fielding percentage at second base.
After retiring from the game, Cash worked at an investment firm in San Diego and later sold cars in Pittsburgh.34 But he missed baseball. In 1989, Cash played for the Orlando Juice of the Senior Professional Baseball Association. He hit .321 in 35 games with the team. The next season, he played for the Florida Tropics and hit .304 in 14 games before the league folded.
Cash became a minor league coach in the Phillies organization in 1988, starting with the Batavia Clippers, their affiliate in the New York-Penn League (short-season A). From 1989-1991 he served as a roving infield instructor for the organization. During that period, he was named manager at Batavia in 1990, and after the first 23 games was returned to the role of roving instructor. He then became part of the Reading Phillies (Class AA) coaching staff from 1992 to 1995. He promoted to first-base coach with the parent club Phillies in 1996. From there, he joined the Orioles organization in various capacities.
Cash had two more stints as manager, with the Frederick Keys in the Carolina League (A) in 2001, and the Bowie Bosox in the Eastern League (AA) in 2002. He held other various minor league coaching positions in the Philadelphia and Baltimore organizations. He also was on the coaching staff with the big club in Baltimore in both 2005 and 2006.
Cash raised two daughters, Carmen and Alexandra, and a son, David III.35 His son was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in 2006, and he played parts of four seasons in in the minor leagues, topping out at the High-A level with the Frederick Keys. As of 2016, Cash was living in the Tampa area with his wife Pamela and enjoying retirement. At one point, Cash said with a smile, he enjoyed retirement too much. His weight exceeded 200 pounds, but he started exercising again and got back to his playing weight of around 175. He also transitioned back to eating meat again. He spends much of his time golfing and managing his portfolio. But he hasn’t strayed too far from the ball field. He said he still helps out with his grandson’s team. He hits infield and helps them with their hitting. “I’m enjoying life. I don’t have a lot of commitments. I have a lot of free time. I can go fishing when I want. Play a little golf when I want. I’m enjoying retirement.”36
Last revised: November 5, 2020
This biography was reviewed by Paul Doutrich and Rory Costello and fact-checked by Alan Cohen.
In addition to the sources included in the Notes, the author also consulted Baseball-Reference.com, Retrosheet.org, The Baseball Cube, the National Baseball Hall of Fame files (courtesy of Cassidy Lent), the Pittsburgh Pirates and Philadelphia Phillies websites.
1 “Dave Cash Sr., Ball Player’s Father, Dies,” The Daily Press Utica, November 23, 1971: 8.
2 Aaron Christiana, “Cash hoping to return to majors as manager,” Utica Observer-Dispatch, August 9, 1998: 3E.
3 Craig Stolze, “Dave Cash Has Value,” Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, March 12, 1970: 33.
4 Bruce Markusen, “#CardCorner: 1972 Topps Dave Cash,” National Baseball Hall of Fame website, (Cooperstown, NY).
5 Bill Christine, “Pirates’ Cash Has Drive Just Like Jackie Robinson,” Pittsburgh Press, February 28, 1970, National Baseball Hall of Fame files.
6 Bruce Markusen, The Team that Changed Baseball, (Yardley, Pennsylvania: Westholme Publishing, 2006), 26.
7 Markusen, 79.
8 Don Laible,”Al Oliver and Dave Cash: Buddies for Life,” Utica Observer-Dispatch, April 15, 2017, National Baseball Hall of Fame files.
9 Markusen, 108.
10 Steve Blass, A Pirate for Life, Chicago, Illinois: Triumph Books, 2012, 162-163.
11 Bruce Markusen, Roberto Clemente: The Great One, (Champaign, Illinois: Sports Publishing Inc, 1998), 284.
12 Markusen, 203.
14“Cash Welcomes His Trade to Phils,” The Daily Press Utica, Friday October 19, 1973: 18.
15 The Daily Press Utica.
16 Bill Livingston, “Phillies’ Album: Dave Cash,” Philadelphia Inquirer, August 29, 1976: 6-E.
17 Ray Kelly, Phillies’ Vying Power Leaps Upward with Cash on Hand,” The Sporting News, April 19, 1975: 16.
18 Ray Kelly, “Bowa and Cash — A DP Duo With Real Clout,” The Sporting News, August 30, 1975: 3.
19 Kelly: 3.
20 Ray Kelly, “Cash Prods Rocketing Phils off Launch Pad,” The Sporting News. August 21, 1976: 3.
21 “Cash Has Money, Peace of Mind,” National Baseball Hall of Fame files, March 15, 1977.
22 Ian MacDonald, “Expos’ Five-Year Pact Registered With Cash,” The Sporting News, Dec 4, 1976: 69.
23 MacDonald: 69.
24 MacDonald: 69.
25 Paul Lomeo, “Phillies Can’t Replace Cash,” Utica Observer, August 9, 1977.
26 Ian MacDonald, “Expos Cheer…Moving into Olympic Stadium,” The Sporting News, March 26, 1977: 16.
27 Ian MacDonald, “Quicker Cash Credits a Vegetable Diet” The Sporting News, May 20, 1978: 15.
28 Jonah Keri, Up, Up & Away, (Toronto, Ontario: Vintage Canada, 2014), 124.
29 Ian MacDonald, “Scott Grabs Cash’s Job — ‘I’m Fed Up,’ Dave Declares,” The Sporting News, April 21, 1979: 28.
30 Ian MacDonald, “Who Said You Can’t Play Cash?” The Sporting News, October 6, 1979: 13.
31 Phil Collier, “Smith Rejects Padres’ Verdict on Bat Tudor,” The Sporting News, January 26, 1980: 55.
32 Scott Pitoniak, “Cash Hopes for Return to Major Leagues,” Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, May 10, 1981, National Baseball Hall of Fame files.
33 Pitoniak, National Baseball Hall of Fame files.
34 Scott Pitoniak, “Cash starting over with Batavia Clippers,” Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, June 18, 1990: 1E, 6E.
35 Christiana: 3E.
36 Paul Hagen, ‘Where are they now? Dave Cash,” MLB News, August 17, 2016.