Remembering Frank Cashen

Memories of famed baseball executive and Baltimore native Frank Cashen, '45

By Brigid Darragh | Photo by Brigid Darragh

The sports world lost one of its most respected figures on Monday when famed baseball executive Frank Cashen, ‘45, died at a hospital near his Easton, Md., home. He was 88 years old.

Cashen, who became the Baltimore Orioles’ general manager in 1966, is best known for helping build a team that went to four World Series—winning in 1966 and 1970—and later completely transforming a losing New York Mets team to become the World Series champions of 1986.

Born in Baltimore, John Francis “Frank” Cashen studied English at Loyola, where he played second base for the Greyhounds baseball team. Cashen later earned a law degree from the University of Maryland.

Cashen worked as a sportswriter and columnist for the Baltimore News-American for nearly two decades. It was during this time that he began regularly wearing what would become his “signature bow tie” as a way to avoid dragging a long tie through the ink of hot-off-the-press editions.

Cashen’s vast experience in journalism, advertising, and law no doubt contributed to his success as a sports executive and general manager.

But as he told Loyola magazine during an interview in 2011, “I was a writer by choice, a lawyer by education, a horseman by heritage, a brewery worker by necessity, and a baseball executive by good fortune.”

You can read that interview in full here.

Brian Oakes, ‘99, MBA ‘10, director of development for Loyola’s College of Arts and Sciences, spent many hours with Cashen in both of his homes on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Oakes shared with Loyola magazine some of his fondest memories of these visits…

Stories, Sports Banter, and a Signing

“At that time, I was working as the director of alumni relations. The director of planned giving and I would fly to Florida and then rent a car and drive to Port St. Lucie,” Oakes recalled.

“Mr. Cashen would always greet us at and invite us into his home. He was a very unassuming person. He would ask us to lunch, and he often would bring a friend, many times another Loyola guy. Our conversations would always begin with an update on Loyola, and then Mr. Cashen would tell us stories. He was a great storyteller, and he had a lot of stories,” Oakes said.

“We would sit in his home and he’d tell us all these stories about his family—he doted on his children and grandchildren, his family was very important to him; about golfing in Ireland and in Florida—he loved to golf; about Baltimore and what being a student at Loyola was like in the 1940s, what his colleagues were doing at the time,” said Oakes.

“And then the conversation would inevitably turn to baseball…”

Cashen showed Oakes and his colleague his World Series Champions trophy one afternoon.

It was on a shelf with other objects, like any other knickknack.

“He had great insight. He would tell us about what he called ‘his Orioles’ of today, and of the ’60s. He still listened to all the games on the radio,” Oakes said.

During one of his last visits to Cashen’s Florida home, Oakes and his colleague decided to take a chance and ask Cashen to sign two baseballs.

“We were afraid that it might be misconstrued as inappropriate, but at the end of our time with him, we presented the baseballs to Mr. Cashen with this sort of sheepish look—we were fans, too—and he thought nothing of it. He just motioned with his hand for us to bring them to him,” Oakes remembered.

Cashen opened a desk drawer and pulled out what was his signing pen from a special case, and he signed the baseballs for Oakes and his colleague, who noticed that the drawer was also full of autographed Topps baseball cards from Cashen’s days with the Mets.

Cashen saw the men eyeing up the cards, and gave them each one to take home.

I’ve worked at Loyola for ten years, and one of my greatest memories is spending time with Mr. Cashen and the day he signed the ball and gave us those baseball cards,” said Oakes.

Cashen was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame in 2010, along with other players from the 1986 World Series team, including Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry, and Davey Johnson.

Many baseball executives consider Cashen the finest front-office man of his generation to this day.

Cashen is survived by his wife, Jean; five sons, Timothy, Brian, Sean, Gregory, and Terrance; two daughters, Stacy and Blaise; and nine grandchildren.

He will certainly be missed by his family and friends, and by the world of baseball.

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