Of all the statistical oddities in baseball, the rarest occurs when a first baseman plays an entire game without recording a put out.
Detroit Tigers’ Norm Cash did exactly that on June 27, 1963. That Thursday afternoon, the Tigers’ 27 outs in the team’s 10-6 loss to the Minnesota Twins, were recorded as follows: six strike outs, 11 fly balls and 10 line drives.
By comparison, the twenty perfect games pitched in Major League history are common place.
“Stormin’ Norman,” as he was fondly called by Tigers’ fans had other notable achievements in his productive career. In 1960, Cash never hit into a double play. For a slow-footed big man, that’s quite a feat.
The following year, Cash both leagues with his .361 batting average. Critics note that 1961 was the first expansion year and suggest that the diluted pitching may have attributed to Cash’s lofty average. Cash attributes his batting prowess, at least in part, to his corked bat.
After his career ended, Cash admitted to using an illegal corked bat during the 1961 season and demonstrated to Sports Illustrated how he drilled a hole in his bats and filled them with a mixture of sawdust, cork and glue. Cash’s 1961 statistics turned out to be career highs which he rarely approached again. In the following years, Cash never reached 100 runs or 100 RBI and never batted above .283. His 118-point drop to a .243 average in 1962 was the largest ever by a batting champion.
Despite his early summer game against the Twins Cash, considered an outstanding fielder, led the league the league that year in putouts for a first baseman.
Although he played in the shadow of his more famous Hall of Fame teammate Al Kaline, Cash was enormously popular with fans and the media.
In 1986 Cash, age 51, drowned in a boating accident in Northern Lake Michigan when he fell and hit his head.