John Francis Cashen (born 1922) is a former Major League Baseball general manager. He is widely considered to be the architect of the World Champion 1986 New York Mets and was also an executive while the Baltimore Orioles won the 1966 World Series and 1970 World Series.
Cashen was born in Baltimore, Maryland and grew up admiring and playing baseball. He played second base at Loyola College in Maryland but was unable to hit well and did not pursue a playing career. Instead, he joined the Baltimore News-American becoming an award-winning sportswriter over 17 years at the newspaper. He also spent nights at University of Maryland School of Law, graduating with a JD in 1958. He assumed his career would either be in journalism or law. Instead, he was hired by Jerry Hoffberger to be a publicity director for two Baltimore race tracks and later the advertising head at Hoffberger's National Brewing Company. In 1965, Hoffberger's brewing company purchased the Baltimore Orioles and Cashen eagerly accepted the position of executive vice president of the team.
With Cashen overseeing baseball operations in Baltimore, general manager Harry Dalton made a deal to acquire Hall of Famer Frank Robinson in one of the more lopsided trades in baseball history. The following year, Robinson won the triple crown and Baltimore won the 1966 World Series for their first championship. In 1968, the Cashen/Dalton front office hired eventual Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver. The Orioles won all three American League pennants from 1969 to 1971 and won the 1970 World Series. After 1971, Dalton left to become general manager of the Los Angeles Angels and Cashen took over G.M. duties for the Orioles as well as remaining the COO.
Cashen was being mentioned as a candidate for the American League presidency and was a leading choice to replace Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn when a group of team owners tried to oust Kuhn in 1975. Kuhn survived the storm of 1975. Hofferger's National Brewery merged with Carling Brewery ( American Operation ) in 1975. Hofferger requested Cashen to leave the Orioles and return to the Carling National Brewery as senior vice president of marketing and sales.
In 1979, Cashen returned to baseball when Commissioner Kuhn hired him as The Administrator of Baseball Operations.
Building a champion in New York
In January 1980, Nelson Doubleday, Jr. and Fred Wilpon bought the New York Mets after the Mets' third consecutive last-place finish. They were advised by several people to contact Cashen and, after he predicted four or five years for a turnaround, the new owners hired him for $500,000 over five years. Cashen hired public relations firm, Della Femina, Travisano & Partners. A new slogan, "The Magic Is Back!", was used along with television commercials emphasizing past New York area stars rather than the dismal Mets of the late 1970s.
On the field, the Mets made few trades early on, but took a chance with the first pick in the Major League Baseball Draft to sign a talented, but raw high school player, Darryl Strawberry, who eventually finished his Mets career as the all-time franchise leader in home runs and RBI. In 1981, Cashen promoted Hubie Brooks and Mookie Wilson to the majors for spring training and then traded for brash home run hitter Dave Kingman. In 1982, Cashen delighted New York fans by trading for former unanimous MVP, George Foster, who signed a five-year, $10 million contract. Two months later, Cashen alienated many fans by trading away fan favorite, Lee Mazzilli. His instincts proved correct, however, as Mazzilli soon declined while one of the two pitchers the Mets received, Ron Darling, became an All-Star and the other pitcher, Walt Terrell, was later traded for offensive star, Howard Johnson. At the same time as the Mazzilli trade, the Mets were scouting young pitcher, Dwight Gooden, who they picked in the 1982 draft. Gooden would later become the ace of the pitching staff through the Mets' strong years and championship.
While Foster and Kingman performed below expectations and the Mets finished poorly in both 1982 and 1983, Cashen made one of the most lopsided trades in franchise history, acquiring former MVP, batting champion, and 1982 World Champion member Keith Hernandez from St. Louis for pitchers Neil Allen and Rick Ownbey. Hernandez became a team leader both offensively and defensively while Allen was an average pitcher and Ownbey played in only 21 more games in the majors.
"I can't tell you when are we going to win the pennant, I think we're going to win the pennant, if I didn't have this feeling I would not have taken the job."---Frank Cashen during Mets press conference after he was hired as General Manager in January 1980
In 1984, Cashen hired Davey Johnson to be the Mets' manager for a $100,000 salary. Johnson had been the second baseman with the Orioles while Cashen was the G.M. After a successful 1984 season which saw the Mets first winning record since 1976, Cashen and the Mets traded Hubie Brooks and three others to the Montreal Expos for future Hall of Fame catcher, Gary Carter, and most of the pieces were in place for a championship team. The Mets barely missed the playoffs in 1985 and then won the 1986 World Series with the best record of any team during the 1980s.
Decline in New York
While Cashen was largely credited for building the Mets into the 1986 World Champions, he was quickly vilified for dismantling the franchise when a dynasty never materialized. In various transactions, scrappy clubhouse leaders, Lenny "Nails" Dykstra, Roger McDowell, and Wally Backman, as well as fan favorite, Mookie Wilson, and future All-Stars, Rick Aguilera and Kevin Tapani, were traded away. In return, the Mets received the hugely disappointing Juan Samuel as well as Frank Viola (who won 20 games for the 1990 Mets but was otherwise only average in less than three seasons with New York), Jeff Musselman (who was out of baseball after 1990), and four players that never played in the majors. Hernandez, Carter and World Series MVP, Ray Knight were either released or granted free agency in the years following the championship. Instead, the Mets hopes were pinned on Gregg Jefferies who soon faltered and was very unpopular on the team.
After his general manager days, continued working with the Mets in various capacities including chief operating officer in 1992 and consultant in 1993. In November 1998, the Mets general manager, Steve Phillips, took time off to address a sexual harassment lawsuit and Cashen was named interim GM for a week.
Frank Cashen has seven children with wife, Jean: Gregory, Terry, Tim, Brian, Sean, Stacey and Blaise. They also have nine grandchildren: Daniel, Caitlin, Brady, Carly, Lucas, Keely, Colby, Conner and Seamus.
Cashen was noted for frequently wearing a Bow tie.
- Pearlman, Jeff (2004). "The Road to 1986". The Bad Guys Won!. HarperCollins. pp. 20–36. ISBN 0-06-050732-2.
- Holtje, Steve. "Davey Johnson". BaseballLibrary.com. Retrieved 2006-08-26.
- "Transactions". New York Times. 1991-09-28. Retrieved 2006-09-24.
- Murray Chass (1998-11-10). "With No Time to Spare, Cashen Is Returning to the Game". New York Times. p. D4. Retrieved 2006-09-24.
- Jason Diamos (1998-11-17). "The Mets Return Phillips To General Manager's Job". New York Times. p. D1. Retrieved 2006-09-24.
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