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Right on Q: Norm Cash and what might have been

Cash could have brought hope to the South Side in the 1960s

Norm Cash at Tiger Stadium
Norm Cash at Tiger Stadium
Prelinger Archive

To most White Sox fans, the 1960s are a lost decade. The '50s had the "Go-Go White Sox." The '70s had the shorts and Disco Demolition. The '80's had "Winning Ugly" and numbers on the uniform pants. The '90s are all about Frank Thomas. The 2000s, of course, had a World Series Championship.

The Sox of the '60s have fallen down the memory hole. That's too bad, because they were quite good.

In 1964, the Sox won 98 games. The Yankees won 99.

In 1965, the Sox won 95 games. Minnesota won 102.

In 1967, the Sox won 89 games. Boston won 92.

In the 1960s, the White Sox did it with pitching. Gary Peters, Joe Horlen, and Tommy John formed the nucleus of what was the one of the best pitching staffs in the American League. In fact, in 1963, 1964, 1966, and 1967 - the Sox did have the best pitching in the AL.

They didn't have an offense. Then again, the White Sox never had an offense. Comiskey Park was designed to accommodate Ed Walsh, and as a result it had been a big time pitcher's park. Other teams hit home runs, the White Sox didn't.

The lack of offense is the reason why the White Sox did not ride that pitching staff to multiple World Series appearances in the '60s. That's too bad, because the solution was in the White Sox organization.

Norm Cash.

Norm Cash was signed by the White Sox in May of 1955 out of Sul Ross College in Alpine, Texas. He played 71 games for the White Sox between 1958 and 1959. Cash had four plate appearances in the 1959 World Series. He went hitless with two strikeouts.

There was no such thing as prospect hype in the '50, so Cash's Sox appearances were relegated to box scores or the back of game stories.

Dave Condon, writing in the Tribune about the young White Sox who were running away with the American League, noted that the 24-year-old Cash "may still compensate for early disappointments."

On Dec. 8, 1959 Cash was traded (along with infielder/outfielder Bubba Phillips and catcher John Romano) to the Cleveland Indians for Minnie Minoso (and catcher Dick Brown, pitcher Don Ferrarese, and pitcher Jake Striker).

But wait, wasn't Minnie Minoso with the Sox in 1959? He was not.

In 1957, Minoso was traded to the Indians for Al Smith and Early Wynn.

The Minoso deal was part of a series of trades designed to bring more pop to the White Sox. Bill Veeck traded John Callison to the Phillies for third baseman Gene Freese. The Tribune analysis of the deal would make your head spin. They added up the 1959 home run totals of the guys who left, and compared them to the 1959 home run totals of the guys who were coming in.

Minoso hit 21 homers last season. So, with the acquisition of Freese, the champs have picked up 44 homers. In their transactions, they have "lost" 17 homers.

That was baseball analysis in 1959.

Four months later, Cash was Detroit-bound. He was traded to the Tigers for Steve Demeter.

At first, the deal looked fairly even. Minoso had 20 homers and an OPS of .855 in 1960. Cash had 18 homers and an OPS of .903 for the Tigers.

1960 was Minoso's last great season. He was decent in 1961, with an OPS of .789. He was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1962. He had one more go-around with the White Sox in 1964 (I'm excluding Bill Veeck's novelty at-bats in 1976 and 1980).

Cash just got better and better. In 1961 he clubbed 41 homers, had an OPS of 1.148 and came in fourth in MVP voting.

If Veeck held on to Norm Cash instead of trading him for an established player, the White Sox would have reached the World Series in 1964, 1965, and 1967.

Let's look at 1964. The Sox won 98 games. The AL Champion Yankees won 99. Moose Skowron and Joe Cunningham manned first base for the White Sox in 1964. Between them, they were worth 1.5 wins.

Cash was worth 2.9.

Hello, AL pennant.

The Sox were seven games behind the AL-champion Minnesota Twins in 1965. Skowron made the All-Star team. He also was worth 2.3 wins. Cash was worth 5.3. So maybe the extra three wins Cash would have added to the 1965 total wouldn't have been enough to win the Pennant.

In 1967, the White Sox were in a dogfight with the Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins. On the final Wednesday of the season, the Sox dropped both games of a doubleheader to the lowly Kansas City A's, effectively ending their dreams of going to the World Series.

The White Sox finished 1967 in fourth place, three games behind the AL Champion Red Sox.

First baseman Tommy McCraw was worth 2.6 wins. Cash was worth 4. That could have been enough to get the White Sox into a playoff.

There is a catch. Cash practically spent his entire year at Tiger Stadium, which was considered a hitter-friendly ballpark. Thanks to the cavernous outfield and the wind patterns caused by the enclosed upper deck, Comiskey Park was a pitcher's park.

Either way, Cash would have provided some much-needed pop on some very good White Sox teams. It might have been enough to get them into the World Series...and out of the White Sox fan memory hole.