- Baseball in the Cash home has truly been a life-long labor of love. Kevin, Patsy said, was into the game from the minute he could pick up a bat. He excelled in his early years, but things began to level off in high school. Cash's peers were growing quickly, but he was straining to catch up.
"I was pretty good when I was young but then I hit the period when everybody hit their growth spurt. And I didn't. I was a late bloomer, I guess," he said. "My parents never let on that they were a little worried. I wasn't catching up or keeping up with my buddies. That may have worried them a little bit, but they were always very supportive and never let me know they were concerned."
- Kevin had the support of his entire family from the Little League on up.
"We didn't play ball in the house too much, but Little League baseball was an everyday thing in our house. After we got home from school, it was time to go to the field, take batting practice," he said recently. "Even if you didn't have a game that night, it was go hang out at the ballpark. You could always find one of our family members there.
"Mom was always driving, and my dad coached me until I got to a certain age. Then he started coaching my brother. It's called North Side Little League, and we were probably there five nights a week." (Spencer Fordin-MLB.com-5/9/04)
Cash was not drafted after his junior year at Florida State. But former Blue Jays scout Ted Lekas had seen Kevn play at FSU and decided to follow him to the Cape Cod League in 1999. Catchers were in demand in the majors, and the Blue Jays were experimenting with position players behind the plate. Cashe fit what Lekas was looking for.
Lekas approached Cash's Cape Cod league manager, Jeff Trundy, on a day when both of his catchers were sidelined. "Just two innings and move Cash back," Lekas pleaded to his friend. Trundy obliged and put the unsuspecting third baseman behind the plate. In that first appearance, Kevin threw out two baserunners. Not too many weeks later, the Blue Jays signed Cash as a free agent.
Kevin started his pro career in Dunedin, Florida, working with Ernie Whitt, Blue Jays catching icon in Toronto. Whitt, working as a catching instructor for the organization, introduced Cash to life as a catcher.
"He came down there and for the first ten days or two weeks, I absolutely hated it," Cash admits. "I was getting thumbed a lot and I was catching pitches that I just wasn't used to doing. My thumb was killing me so bad I couldn't even take batting practice, so I wasn't crazy about it. But then he taught me a couple of little tricks, and I kind of overcame that stuff. I went to instructional ball and caught every single game.
The 2000 season was his first year playing minor league ball, for the Hagerstown Suns (SAL-Blue Jays).
He is a real gamer who doesn't want to take a day off. Cash is a leader. He has very good makeup. And he exhibits good baseball instincts.
Kevin does a lot of preparation to catch Tim Wakefield's knuckleball, every day. Between Wake's starts on many days, Cash is in the bullpen with the pitching machine, which is fed rag balls made of a sticky, carpetlike material.
"What happens is, they stick to the machine as they go through, so they come out like a kuckleball," Cash explained. "It's not as good as Wake's, of course, but they move a lot. And when you think about it, how else can you practice catching a knuckleball?"
Kevin does another drill barehanded. He catches miniature balls (about the size of a gumball) tossed to him rapid-fire.
"It's just keeping your hand-eye coordination sharp," Cash said. "With a knuckleball, no one knows where it is going. You have to wait on it. You wait to move the glove at the last second, or else it's going by you." (Sean Deveney-Sports Illustrated-5/226/08)
Cash was a member of the 2007 World Champion Boston Red Sox and then the 2009 World Champion New York Yankees.
So, Cash, like Babe Ruth and Johnny Damon and a select few others, will always be able to say he won World Series championships while playing for the sport's two biggest rivals.
"I really enjoyed my time with both of them," said Kevin, who last week received a call from the Yankees to get his ring size. "I don't know how many people have World Series rings with both of them, but that's pretty exciting."
Cash didn't actually appear in a World Series game for the Red Sox or Yankees, which cost him a chance to be in another exclusive club: Players who've appeared in the Little League World Series, the College World Series and the Fall Classic. But he has World Championship rings from both the Red Sox and Yankees.
Cash played in 11 games for the Red Sox in 2007 but wasn't on the postseason roster. He appeared in only 10 games for the Yankees in 2009 before a shoulder injury cut short his season. He did go 1-for-3 in the 2008 ALCS for Boston against Tampa Bay.
While catchers typically comprise just eight percent of a Major League roster, a stunning 63 percent of World Series-winning managers since 1996—12 of 19—have been former backstops.
"I don't necessarily think you're going to be a good manager just because you're a catcher, but those numbers? I guess they don't lie," said Cash, who said he was unaware of the data before being told midway through 2015 spring training.
"I just think it's unique that catcher is the one position on the field that you have a different view from everybody else. You have eight position players looking in at you, and there's so much detail now that goes into the pitcher-catcher relationship and game-planning for hitters. It really forces catchers, and good catchers, to really think," added Cash.
Baseball Hall of Famer Joe Torre personally represents 4 of the 12 World Series winners in question, and he didn't hesitate when asked for an explanation of the statistical skew.
"Well, we're smarter than most people," laughed Torre, who spent the first 10 seasons of his career catching for the Braves and Cardinals. I'm kidding, obviously, but I am a little biased. Catchers just have to know more about what's going on. They're the only guys that stand back there and don't have to do this [turns his head from side-to-side] to see everyone on the field. They just look straight out and they see the game develop.
"Pitching is such a big part of the game, and I think catchers have more conversations with managers and pitching coaches than anybody else on the field, so you get knowledge by mistake," he continued. "Essentially, I think that catchers probably study the game more so than position players."
And what does Torre think of the Rays' decision to hire the 37-year-old Cash?
"I had a conversation with Kevin at the Winter Meetings and I really liked his enthusiasm," Torre said. "It's exciting for me to watch and observe the young guys when they start out, and even to watch them make mistakes and learn from them. He was a backup catcher for most of his career, and those guys usually have to work very hard."
Any concerns about Cash's age?
"When I first started managing, I was 36 years old and I'd lay in bed at night saying 'I wish I didn't do that and I wish I didn't do this' and then you get to the point where you get tired of blaming yourself, and you go learn from the stuff you did," Torre said.
"Kevin's got the knowledge and the energy it takes to succeed. I'm sure he'll do just fine." (Michael Kolligan - MLB.com - March 14, 2015)
- December 12, 2004: The Devil Rays sent P Chad Gaudin to the Blue Jays, acquiring Cash.
- January 24, 2007: Cash signed with the Red Sox organization.
- December 12, 2008: The Red Sox didn't tender Kevin a contract for 2009, making him a free agent.
- December 24, 2008: Cash signed with the Yankees. His one-year contract was for $700,000 if added to the 40-man roster.
- September 5, 2009: The Yankees released Cash.
- January 22, 2010: Kevin signed with the Astros organization.
- July 1, 2010: The Red Sox sent INF Angel Sanchez to the Astros, acquiring Cash.
- November 7, 2010: Kevin signed with the Rangers organization.