Monday, June 05, 2006

Fitting In '61 For Cash That Tiger Stadium Located In Corktown

He cheated, he admitted to it, and that was that.

45 years ago, Stormin' Norman Cash assaulted the American League -- swatting 41 homers, driving in 132 runs, and batting a robust .361. His was an MVP-type year, except for those two "M" Boys in New York -- Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle.

Cash tumbled all the way down to .243 in 1962, and never again came close to his monster year of 1961. But there was a simple explanation: Norm Cash cheated.

He admitted to it, years later, the Statute of Limitations up. He had a fetish for cork in '61, and thus used his lightened bat with whiplike quickness.

Cash's carpentry helped produce a career year in 1961

It was simple. Cash would drill out a 1/4" diameter hole in the top of his bat, about three inches down. He'd remove the wood, hollowing out the hole. Then he'd fill the cavity with cork, seal the top with wood pieces and glue, and voila! -- a lighter, more dangerous warclub.

Now if we can just get Barry Bonds to 'fess up.

Cash spoke with impunity, because what were they going to do to him? His career was over, and he hadn't won any awards nor led his team to any pennants, though the '61 Tigers won 101 games -- yet still finished eight games behind the Yankees.

Why Cash decided to forego the corked bats for 1962, I'm not sure. Maybe he decided one year tempting fate was enough. But even corkless, Cash packed a whallop. He hit 377 career homeruns, and drove in 1,103 runs. He had a career BA of .271.

When Kirk Gibson came up to the Tigers, Cash was the team's TV analyst for the old ON Network -- a precursor to PASS and Fox Sports Detroit. He once commented that Gibson's lefthanded stance reminded him of himself.

"He looks like me up there," Cash said on the air. After Gibson struck out -- as he was wont to do -- Cash said the frequent K's confirmed their similarities. Cash struck out 1,091 times during his 16-year career.

The Yanks may have had their "M Boys", but the Tigers had the "C Men." Cash teamed with Rocky Colavito to give the Bengals a formidable one-two punch of their own. Between them, the C Men combined for 86 homers and 272 RBI.

It's presumed The Rock got his numbers fair and square.

Maybe Norm Cash got his wrist slapped upstairs. He died tragically in October 1986 when he slipped off a dock and drowned. They said he'd been drinking.

Norm could do that, too.

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