One of the national pastime’s very best front-office executives, Frank Cashen, passed away yesterday at a hospital on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. He was 88.
Although Orioles fans will remember Cashen fondly for overseeing the construction of a championship franchise in Baltimore starting in the mid-1960s, most followers of the game will associate him with being the general manager who took over the hapless Mets in the winter of 1980 and turned them into a winner.
In nearly a quarter-century as a baseball administrator, Mr. Cashen made shrewd trades, but he focused on building farm systems, even with the arrival in the mid-1970s of bidding wars for high-priced free agents. It was something of an old-fashioned strategy that fit perfectly with Mr. Cashen’s collection of bow ties from a bygone era in men’s fashion.
He joined the Mets in 1980, after they had finished last in the National League East for three straight seasons, and built a 1986 championship ball club featuring Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Mookie Wilson, Lenny Dykstra, Jesse Orosco, Wally Backman and Roger McDowell from the Mets’ farm system, together with Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling, Sid Fernandez, Bobby Ojeda, Ray Knight and Howard Johnson, all obtained in trades. …
In November 2004, most of the Mets’ 1986 team was on hand to honor their manager and general manager at a charity function in New York. “I guess I owe everything to Frank,” Keith Hernandez said at the time. “He put together the deal that got me here. He’s a guy who achieved greatness in baseball without ever picking up a bat.”