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

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 the Salem Rebels of the short-season Appalachian League. Cash played 58 games, hitting .266 with 11 extra-base hits and 25 RBIs 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 of the Class-A Western Carolinas League. He had 80 runs, 24 extra-base hits, 23 steals and 55 walks that season. His .824 OPS that season was the only time he topped the .800 mark in the minors or majors. He spent the next season back with the Salem Rebels, this time though, it was a promotion to the Carolina League (Advanced-A), as the team moved up the farm system ranks. He hit .277 with 68 runs, 27 extra-base hits, 59 RBIs and 59 walks over 124 games. Cash moved up to Triple-A Columbus of the International League for 1969, where he batted .291 with 57 runs, 17 doubles, 12 triples and 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 and a .732 OPS. 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 Columbus, before 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 14 extra-base hits, 28 RBIs, 30 runs scored and a career best .784 OPS. 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 23 extra-base hits, 34 RBIs, 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 their fourth title. In 1972, Cash hit .282 with 58 runs scored, 120 hits, 22 doubles and 30 RBIs 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, 21 doubles, 31 RBIs and a .669 OPS in 116 games.

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 206 hits, 89 runs, 26 doubles, 11 triples, a career high 58 RBIs, 46 walks 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. He had 92 runs scored and 56 RBIs. He received mild MVP support each season during that three-year stretch, finishing 14th, 13th and 16th in the voting. His .719 OPS in Philadelphia was 17 points higher than his total in Pittsburgh.

Cash signed with the Montreal Expos as a free agent in 1977, and posted two more solid seasons before assuming a bench role in 1979. He hit .289 over 153 games in 1977, with 188 hits, 89 runs scored and career highs of 42 doubles and 21 steals. He followed that up with a .252 average in 159 games, with 26 doubles and 66 runs scored. He had 43 RBIs for the second straight season. He was limited to 76 games in 1979, but he managed to put up a .321 average and a .781 OPS 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/.287/.280 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, 243 doubles, 21 homers, 426 RBIs 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, 105 extra-base hits and 127 RBIs 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. He was an above average defensive player, leading him to a career total of 25.6 WAR.

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 Class-D Georgia-Florida League in 1948, where he hit .295 with 39 doubles, eight triples and 14 homers in 138 games. He repeated the level in 1949, while also spending part of the season two levels higher in Class-B ball, playing briefly for Waco of the Big State League and Davenport of the Three-I League. He combined to hit .319 in 107 games, with 70 runs, 24 doubles, 14 homers, 87 RBIs and an .868 OPS. In 1950, he began to make his move towards the majors, splitting the year between two levels, hitting .294 with 45 extra-base hits in 129 games. He played 82 games that year for Charleston of the Class-A South Atlantic League and 47 games with New Orleans of the Double-A Southern Association. Thomas began the 1951 season at New Orleans, where he hit .289 with 25 doubles, six triples and 23 homers in 125 games, earning his first promotion to the Pirates in mid-August. In 39 games for Pittsburgh that year, he hit .264 with 16 RBIs, 21 runs scored and a .698 OPS. 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 in 154 games for New Orleans. He was a September call-up that year and would stick in the majors for good from that point on, despite going 2-for-21 with two singles and one walk in six games.

The first full season in Pittsburgh was an impressive one for Thomas, as he took over the slugger role from the recently traded Ralph Kiner. Thomas connected on 22 doubles and 30 homers in 128 games. He batted .255 that season, with 68 runs, 102 RBIs and 50 walks, leading him to an .837 OPS and an 18th place finish in the MVP voting. The 1954 season saw him play 153 games, hitting .298 with 32 doubles, seven triples, 23 homers, 94 RBIs and 81 runs scored. His .856 OPS was the second best mark of his career. 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. He also finished 13th in the MVP voting. 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. He had 25 homers and 60 walks, but his OPS dropped 101 points from the previous season. Despite the overall drop, he still got some MVP support, finished 23rd in the voting.

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 69 runs, 24 doubles, 25 homers, 80 RBIs and a .787 OPS. He improved to a .290 average in 151 games in 1957, with 72 runs, 30 doubles, 23 homers, 89 RBIs and a .795 OPS. That earned him mild MVP support for a fourth time, finishing 19th in the voting. He followed that up with his best year (though his 1954 season had a slightly higher WAR). In 1958, Thomas made his third All-Star team and set career highs with 89 runs scored, 35 homers and 109 RBIs. He hit .281 and added 26 doubles, giving him an .863 OPS that was his career high. He finished fourth in the NL MVP voting that year, his best finish, though it was also the last time he received any MVP votes.

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 18 doubles, 12 homers and a .658 OPS (205 point drop from 1958) 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 that season, with 21 homers, 64 RBIs and a .678 OPS. He was with the Cubs briefly in 1961 before being traded to the Milwaukee Braves. He hit .281 with 65 runs, 15 doubles, 27 homers and 73 RBIs that season in 139 games, 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 69 runs, 23 doubles, 34 homers, 94 RBIs and an .824 OPS in 156 games. The average stayed nearly the same in 1963, but the power disappeared. Thomas hit .260 with 34 runs, nine doubles, 15 homers and 60 RBIs in 126 games, seeing a 115 point drop in his OPS.

Thomas split the 1964 season between the Mets and Philadelphia Phillies, hitting .271 with 17 doubles, ten homers and 45 RBIs in 99 games, showing much better results after the trade. 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 back with the Braves. He batted just .220 with four homers and a .599 OPS in 73 games. He returned to the Cubs in 1966 at 37 years old, 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 262 doubles and 286 career homers and drove in 962 runs, while scoring 792 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. He had below average defense throughout his career, which left him with 18.7 career WAR, of which 13.8 came while with the Pirates. Thomas turns 93 years old today.

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 with 23 extra-base hits and a 9-for-9 success rate in steals over 66 games for State College of the short-season New York-Penn League in 2009. He skipped up to High-A Bradenton of the Florida State League in 2010 and he had a .351 average and an .848 OPS, but he was limited to 47 games due to his broken leg. The next year he spent the entire season at Altoona of the Double-A Eastern League, where he hit .288 with 62 runs, 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 with 32 extra-base hits in 102 games in Double-A, then batted .432/.476/.537 in 24 games at Indianapolis of the Triple-A International League. 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 with a .513 OPS in 26 games, while spending more than half of the year in Triple-A. He then started receiving full-time big league work in 2014 and put up a .281 average, with 68 runs scored, 32 extra-base hits and 12 steals in 106 games. He played at least ten games at five different positions in 2014. 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, six triples, eight steals (in nine attempts) and 56 runs scored in a career high 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 45 runs, 16 doubles and a career best seven homers. He played just 64 games in 2017, partially due to a .200 batting average and a .548 OPS.

Holt rebounded in 2018 to play 109 games, hitting .277 with 41 runs, 18 doubles, seven homers and a career high 46 RBIs. In his final season in Boston, Holt hit .297 in 87 games, with 38 runs, 14 doubles and 31 RBIs, 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, with a .557 OPS, while mostly playing third base in Milwaukee, then jumping all around to different spots in Washington. He signed with the Texas Rangers as a free agent in 2021 and played mostly at third base, where he hit .209 in 76 games, with 21 runs, 13 doubles, two homers and 23 RBIs. He signed a free agent deal with the Atlanta Braves in 2022, but he was released near the end of Spring Training and has not signed with a new team as of early June. He has a .262 career average in 751 games, with 127 doubles, 25 homers, 234 RBIs, 41 steals and 316 runs scored.