NEW YORK (AP) — Frank Cashen, the general manager who wore a signature bow tie and fashioned a New York Mets team that rollicked its way to the 1986 World Series championship, died Monday. The team said he was 88.
He died at Memorial Hospital in Easton, Maryland, after a short illness, the Mets said.
Cashen was a longtime sports writer in his Baltimore hometown and went to law school before joining the Orioles and eventually becoming their GM.
The Orioles won two titles while Cashen worked for them, but it was in New York where he put his stamp on a franchise with the likes of Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden.
Hired in 1980, Cashen transformed a last-place team into an outfit that became the most dominant force in baseball. Those Mets were brash and full of swagger, not at all like the personality of the man who built the club.
Cashen made the trades that brought star first baseman Keith Hernandez and future Hall of Famer Gary Carter to the Mets, and oversaw the draft picks of Gooden and Strawberry.
"Frank was our leader," Strawberry said in a statement. "I always admired the way he put together our team. He mixed young guys, like me and Doc, with guys like Carter and Hernandez. He was able to find the perfect blend to build a championship."
Cashen also hired his former second baseman in Baltimore, Davey Johnson, to be the Mets' manager.
By the 1986, the Mets were ready to take over. They powered their way to 108 victories, won a tough playoff series with Houston and then rallied past Boston to win the World Series in seven games.
"Frank was willing to take a chance and jump me from A-ball to the majors. That always meant a lot to me," Gooden said in a statement. "Also, he helped get me my No. 16. Lee Mazzilli had it before and Frank went to bat for me and said, 'If that's the number Doc wants, let him have it.'"
Hernandez is now a broadcaster for the Mets. He was already a star first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals when Cashen acquired him in June 1983 in a one-sided deal, getting him for pitchers Neil Allen and Rick Ownbey.
Before the Mets played at Atlanta on Monday night, Hernandez fondly remembered Cashen.
"He was a man of integrity and honestly, and that was most important. He told you the truth," Hernandez said.
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