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Winning in Both Leagues: Reflections from Baseball's Front Office Hardcover – 13 Oct 2014

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press (13 Oct. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803249659
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803249653
  • Product Dimensions: 22.4 x 14.9 x 2.3 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,316,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"The most versatile man I know; sports, music, writing, the law, he could do it all." - Tim McCarver "When it came to baseball, Cashen had the magic touch." - Nelson Doubleday Jr., former president of Doubleday and former owner of the New York Mets "Frank Cashen, through shrewd trades and organizational development, put together two of the most complete pitching staffs in baseball history. Through the use of both the numbers and his great appreciation of the eyes and ears of the game (the scouts), Mr. Cashen assembled iconic franchises. Orioles and Mets fans applaud." - Ron Darling, New York Mets pitcher in the 1980s "Frank Cashen liked being a sportswriter, liked being a lawyer, liked running a brewery, but loved being a baseball general manager. He took his intellect, people skills, great judgment, and passion and became one of the best baseball GMs ever." - Jim Palmer, broadcaster and Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame pitcher "Cashen is a hero to the little people in baseball. He believed in scouting and the Minor Leagues and persuaded the big league owners to provide a retirement plan for the forgotten people of baseball." - Harry Minor, long-time New York Mets scout

About the Author

J. Frank Cashen was, at various times, executive vice president, chief operating officer, and general manager of the Baltimore Orioles in the '60s and '70s and the New York Mets from 1980 to 1991. His teams won three world championships in five World Series appearances and were runners up in three other league championship playoffs. Billy Beane is the vice president and general manager of the Oakland Athletics.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 13 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
and baseball general manager by good fortune. ” To which Cashen adds 5 Oct. 2014
By Gregory Cashen - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Review of my father's book " Winning in Both Leagues" that appeared in the weekend Wall Street Journal.

Oct. 3, 2014 2:47 p.m. ET

At a time when baseball books have the heft and solemnity of presidential biographies, J. Frank Cashen’s posthumously published account of his career in Major League Baseball delivers a refreshingly compact and unpretentious change of pace. Cashen, who died in June at the age of 88, quotes a friend who once described him as “a writer and a newspaperman by choice, a lawyer by education, a race track operator by heritage, brewery executive by dollar necessity, advertising manager by curiosity, marketing and sales official by progression, and baseball general manager by good fortune.” To which Cashen adds: “What a great bunch of jobs.”

In “Winning in Both Leagues” he has something to say about each of them, as well as about his Irish-immigrant parents and Baltimore upbringing. But most of the book is devoted to his two decades as a front-office executive, first in the American League with the Baltimore Orioles (1965-75) and then in the National League with the New York Mets (1980-91). He eventually became one of only two general managers to win the World Series in each league. (The other was John Schuerholz—in Kansas City and Atlanta—who began his career as a Baltimore front-office assistant under Cashen.)

In the fall of 1965—a now-vanished era when players were bound by the reserve clause and the World Series was the entirety of the “postseason”—Cashen was unexpectedly appointed executive vice president of the Baltimore Orioles by Jerry Hoffberger, who owned both the ball club and the brewery where Cashen was director of advertising. Cashen’s first decision was his most important: giving approval (over the opposition of his field manager) to a rare inter-league trade that brought slugger Frank Robinson to Baltimore from Cincinnati in exchange for pitcher Milt Pappas.

Robinson won the MVP award in 1966, and the Orioles won the World Series, sweeping the defending world champion Los Angeles Dodgers in four games. Led by an outstanding pitching staff, the Orioles won an additional three league pennants as well as the 1970 World Series during Cashen’s tenure.

The years with the Orioles were just a warm-up to the next phase of Cashen’s front-office career—the rise of the New York Mets from ineptitude on the playing field and lack of support at the gate in 1980 to victory in the World Series in 1986 and a team attendance record six seasons later. As Mets general manager, Cashen deployed the full range of team-building methods: He drafted Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry; traded for Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling, Howard Johnson and Gary Carter; braved the wrath of fans for trading away the popular Lee Mazzilli; signed Rusty Staub and George Foster as free agents; and hired former Oriole infielder Davey Johnson as manager in 1984. Johnson succeeded George Bamberger, who had managed the club during two losing seasons after Cashen fired a “stoically silent” Joe Torre. Cashen contends that Torre “had no idea how to improve things.”

The payoff came in 1986 when the Mets won 108 games in the regular season and then defeated the Red Sox in a memorable World Series. At least for a time, the Mets supplanted the Yankees in the top spot of the New York pecking order. It was indeed a wonderful success story, and Cashen’s obvious pride is well-deserved, but the Mets never built the dynasty that seemed to be in the offing. Cashen touches on Dwight Gooden’s drug problems but ignores Darryl Strawberry’s disruptive behavior, the draft picks that did not perform up to expectations and the trades that backfired. The Mets did not win another pennant under Cashen, and when the team dropped to fifth place in 1991, he retired as general manager.

Cashen has a kind word for almost everyone he came across in his baseball career. Bowie Kuhn, the oft-derided commissioner, is praised for a front-office minority-hiring initiative. Any resentment of Mets co-owner Fred Wilpon ’s readiness to take credit for the team built by Cashen is tempered by his own admission that, though much of his success at Baltimore was due to the talent assembled by his predecessor, “I did take many of the bows.”

In a rare note of sour grapes, Cashen partly blames the Orioles’ loss to the “Miracle Mets” in the 1969 World Series—“the absolute low point in my baseball career”—on an umpire conspiracy to “get even with” Orioles manager Earl Weaver. He also accuses Houston Astros pitcher Mike Scott of winning two games in the 1986 pennant playoff by illegally doctoring the ball, conceding that the baseball elite was “unimpressed” with his evidence.

Cashen reserves his full animus for the player agents, who, when they are not “garnering a disproportionate amount of riches for themselves” and giving bad advice to their clients, are being outsmarted by Cashen in salary arbitration. Here he sounds more like the stereotypical tight-fisted executive than the newspaper-union president and aspiring labor lawyer he once was.

At the end of his chronicle, Cashen offers up “ten things a GM should know.” They are sensible if not earth-shaking. (“You can never have too much left-handed pitching.”) But given baseball’s obsession with ever more elaborate statistics, it is good to be reminded that “there are ballplayers you win with and ballplayers you lose with—and it doesn’t always depend on ERA (pitchers’ earned run average) or BA (hitters’ batting average).” Or even, dare we say it, on OBP (On-Base Percentage) or WAR (Wins Above Replacement).

—Mr. Fetter is the author of “Taking on the Yankees: Winning and Losing in the Business of Baseball, 1903 to 2003.”
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Another good review of my father's autobiography 26 Oct. 2014
By Gregory Cashen - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Another good review of my father's autobiography :

Frank Cashen's enjoyable autobiography
Review by Pete Kerzel - MASN Oriole Insider

Frank Cashen's enjoyable autobiography

The last time I saw J. Frank Cashen, the longtime Orioles executive who was an architect of the team's powerhouse clubs from the 1960s and 1970s, was in August 2012 at the annual Orioles Hall of Fame luncheon. I rode an elevator with Cashen, then 86, who reveled in being surrounded by Baltimore baseball fans and Hall of Famers from the club.

"Isn't this a fantastic day?" a smiling, ruddy-faced Cashen said when I shook his hand upon being introduced to a man who qualifies as Baltimore baseball royalty as much as the guys we revere on a first-name basis: Brooks, Frank and Cal. He loved being immersed in Orioles history and baseball, and the feeling was quite mutual.

Cashen was renowned for two things - his ubiquitous bowtie (a leftover from his Charm City newspapering days when longer-length neckties ran the risk of becoming ink-stained throwaways on the composition room floor) and the meticulous way he crafted both winning ballclubs and organizational loyalty as a leader of both the Orioles and Mets.

CashenBook.pngHis autobiography, "Winning in Both Leagues: Reflections from Baseball's Front Office," published a few months after his death in June at 88, gives an insider's account of how the Orioles became a powerhouse and how Cashen's carefully crafted plan created a similar resurgence when he took over the Mets, replicating his success in Baltimore through shrewd drafting, a focus on player development, bold managerial hires and beneficial trades.

Cashen was through-and-through Baltimore when he joined the Orioles in 1965 as an executive vice president. He had grown up in Baltimore, played second base and graduated from Loyola College, carved out a career as a sportswriter at the News American, studied law at nights and earned his law degree and worked as a publicity director at a harness track before becoming an executive at the National Brewing Co.

When the Jerry Hoffberger-owned brewery purchased the Orioles in 1965, Cashen joined the ballclub's front office, starting a baseball career that would span more than a quarter of a century and take him to the general manager's seat in Baltimore. Along the way he was involved in the trade that brought Frank Robinson to Baltimore, where he changed the face of the Orioles (Cashen was originally against the deal with the Reds); watched as the O's swept the Dodgers in 1966; saw Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver given his first major league job in 1968; withstood the 1969 World Series loss to the Mets; rebounded to beat the Reds in the 1970 Fall Classic and lose the 1971 World Series to the Pirates; decided to trade Frank Robinson after the 1971 campaign; and was mentioned as a possible commissioner candidate when Bowie Kuhn ran afoul of baseball owners in the mid-1970s.

Cashen worked in the commissioner's office for a while before joining the Mets as GM, where he used some of the same methods that worked in Baltimore - starting with a legal pad where he kept both his rules for success and his plans for the ballclub for a period of three years out - to turn the Mets into a World Series champion in 1986. There were plenty of Baltimore connections to the Mets' success, not the least of which was Davey Johnson, in his first major league managerial gig after apprenticing on the Mets farm.

Like any good biography, there are plenty of behind-the-scenes tidbits, some being told for the first time, others being recounted for posterity. When he was flown to Baltimore in December 1965 to meet the Orioles brass, Robinson had dinner with them at the Belvedere Hotel, where he was told that the same rules applied to everyone on the Orioles. Robinson didn't sound sure and cautioned then-general manager Harry Dalton that he'd better not be lying to him. Cashen remembers sparring with first baseman Boog Powell over his weight and how he learned to negotiate player contracts when the game's financial landscape was quickly changing.

Even the memories of his days at the Mets helm are rife with Orioles connections, from Johnson's early forays into baseball analytics being tossed into a trashcan by an unbelieving Earl Weaver and what made the former Orioles second baseman an attractive managerial candidate to being accosted on a subway train or on the streets of New York when he traded fan favorite (and future O's skipper) Lee Mazzilli.

I'll readily admit I'm a sucker for sports biographies. As a youngster, I learned about how Brooks Robinson almost ended his career by impaling his bicep on a jutting piece of metal while making a grab of a foul ball, how a young Roberto Clemente honed his skills on dirt diamonds in his native Puerto Rico, how Jackie Robinson battled prejudice and racism while breaking baseball's color barrier. There's something magical, however, about a well-crafted autobiography, one that strikes a balance between well-spun stories and behind-the-scenes nuggets. Whether you've heard the stories before, or whether some of the information is totally new, Cashen's is a good read. I particularly liked his recollection of how draft-style dispersement of his collection of world championship rings to his very lucky children.

It's clear that what he learned as Hoffberger's right-hand man in both the beer and baseball businesses served Cashen well. And it's unfortunate that such a good - and good-natured - baseball man didn't live to see fans and readers enjoy his collection of memories from a life well-lived.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Not as good as expected. 19 Sept. 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Expected more from a long-time baseball executive who has seen and done so much. I was particularly dismayed that there were a number of misspelled names of players from the 1970's era.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Disapointing but still OK 28 Oct. 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was actually kind of disappointed in reading this. It is a worthwhile read for Orioles and Mets fans, but provides less information and insights than I expected.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
One of the best baseball books on the market! 23 Sept. 2014
By E Dee Monnen - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved this book! Frank Cashen, an attorney and former sports writer, had five World Series rings to his credit. He wasn’t a baseball player but the general manager for both the Orioles and the Mets. Before he died, Frank was able to completely finish his memoir—a masterful book about baseball from a front office point of view. The author writes so well, I'm sad that there won't be others. Cashen’s work is not just about baseball but about winning in an honorable way. His ability to groom talent and manage athletes, coaches, scouts and a large cadre of other employees is the treasured theme. For this reason, it is not just for baseball fans (and everyone will love the behind the scenes anecdotes) it’s also a book about management told in the most delightful and humorous way. I’ve read many baseball books, but never before have I seen such a fine book from a general manager’s perspective.
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