This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: June 11th, Dave Cash and the Original Big Hurt

There are three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, and two of them 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. He 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 National League in at-bats all three seasons, made the All-Star team all three years and averaged 203 hits per season. He batted .300 in 1974, with 26 doubles, 11 triples, 89 runs scored and 20 steals. In 1975, he led the league with a career high of 213 hits. He batted .305 with 40 doubles, and also set career bests with 111 runs scored and 56 walks. Cash saw his average drop to .284 in 1976, but that came with a very impressive 54:13 BB/SO ratio in 727 plate appearances. He led the league with a career high of 12 triples. During this three-year stretch, he received mild MVP support each season, finishing 14th, 13th and 16th in the voting.

He signed with the Montreal Expos as a free agent in 1977, and posted two more solid seasons before assuming a bench role in 1979. Cash hit .289 over 153 games in 1977, with 188 hits, 89 runs scored and a career high 42 doubles. He followed that up with a .252 average in 159 games, with 26 doubles and 66 runs scored. He was limited to 76 games in 1979, but he managed to put up a .321 average in 187 at-bats. 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, hitting just .227 in 130 games, 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. He led all second basemen in games played each year from 1974 through 1978.

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 for Pittsburgh, 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 in 1955. 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 led the National League with 157 games played 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, batting .225 with 12 homers in 108 games. He would be dealt to the Chicago Cubs after just one season. He bounced back a bit in the power category in 1960, but his average didn’t return. Thomas hit .238 in 135 games, with 21 homers and 64 RBIs. He was with the Cubs briefly in 1961 before being traded to the Milwaukee Braves. He hit .281 with 27 homers and 73 RBIs that season, then got traded to the expansion New York Mets in the off-season. Thomas was a big piece on a very bad team. The club went 40-120, despite him hitting .266 with 34 homers and 94 RBIs in 156 games. The average stayed nearly the same in 1963, but the power disappeared. Thomas hit .260 with 15 homers and 60 RBIs, seeing a 115 point drop in his OPS. He split the 1964 season between the Mets and Philadelphia Phillies, hitting .271 with ten homers in 99 games. He became a bench player in 1965 and ended up playing for three different teams, starting with the Phillies, before moving on to the Houston Astros and then finishing with the Braves. He batted just .220 with four homers in 73 games. He returned to the Cubs in 1966, but he was let go after going 0-for-5 as a pinch-hitter, which ended his big league career.

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 out of Rice University and worked his way to the majors just three years later, despite missing a large amount of time one year due to a broken leg. Holt batted .299 over 66 games for State College of the New York-Penn League in 2009. He skipped up to High-A Bradenton in 2010 and he had a .351 average, but he was limited to 47 games due to his broken leg. The next year he spent the entire season at Altoona, where he hit .288 with 30 doubles, nine triples, 50 walks and 18 steals in 132 games. He went to the Arizona Fall League after the season and he batted .240 in eight games. Most of 2012 was spent back in Altoona, though he had a big season there and ended up in the majors after a very brief stint in Triple-A. Holt hit .322 in 102 games in Double-A, then batted .432 in 24 games at Indianapolis. 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 with the Red Sox in 2013, hitting .203 in 26 games, while spending more than half of the year in Triple-A. He then started receiving full-time work in 2014 and put up a .281 average, with 68 runs scored and 32 extra-base hits in 106 games. That earned him an eighth place finish in the Rookie of the Year voting. He was an All-Star as a utility player in 2015 when he hit .280 with 27 doubles and 56 runs scored in 129 games. He saw significant time at five different positions that season and played in a total of seven spots (everything except pitcher and catcher). Holt had some concussion issues that limited his work with the Red Sox. He played 94 games in 2016 and hit .255 with a career best seven homers. He played just 64 games in 2017, partially due to a .200 batting average. He rebounded in 2018 to play 109 games, hitting .277 with seven homers and a career high 46 RBIs. In his final season in Boston, Holt hit .297 in 87 games, seeing most of his playing time at second base. He split the shortened 2020 season between the Milwaukee Brewers and Washington Nationals, hitting .211 in 36 games. He signed with the Texas Rangers as a free agent in 2021 and has been playing mostly at third base. Through late May of 2021, he has a .267 career average in 699 games, with 24 homers, 218 RBIs, 38 steals and 301 runs scored.