As a Player, Terry Cashman Was Bush, but as a Composer, He's Up with Willie, Mickey and 'The Duke'

updated 08/09/1982 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/09/1982 AT 01:00 AM EDT

When Terry Cashman quit pro baseball in 1960 after compiling a 7-6 record in two seasons as a pitcher in the Detroit Tiger farm system, his chances of ending up in the Baseball Hall of Fame didn't look good. But when Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson made it into the baseball shrine at Cooperstown, N.Y. Aug. 1, Cashman did too. At least his song Cooperstown: The Town Where Baseball Lives made the ceremonies.

When Cashman sang "Ruth and Cobb, Joe DiMaggio/Sunny days and Willie Mays" as part of the Hall of Fame induction, it only reinforced his reputation as baseball's composer laureate. Last season Cashman wrote Talkin' Baseball: Willie, Mickey and "The Duke," a maddeningly infectious paean to those simpler times before free agents and George Steinbrenner. The ditty's lyrics ("Talkin' baseball, the Man and Bobby Feller/The Scooter, the Barber and the Newk/They knew 'em all from Boston to Dubuque...") make it competitive with such other baseball hymns as Take Me Out to the Ball Game or even Van Lingle Mungo. And it became an unlikely success (perhaps because of the nostalgia induced by that strike-interrupted season). This year Cashman, 41, recorded individualized home-team themes for every franchise in the majors except recently created Seattle and Toronto.

He wrote Talkin' Baseball in 20 minutes one night in March 1981, after being inspired by a photo of '50s stars Duke Snider, Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays at an Old Timers' Game in Shea Stadium. "The idea suddenly came to me of being on a street corner in Manhattan," he recalls, "arguing baseball with my friends."

As a teenager in the 1950s in New York City's Washington Heights, Cash-man cut records and sang with a neighborhood doo-wop group, the Chevrons. A high school baseball star, he signed at 18 with the Tigers, got a $500 bonus and joined the Montgomery, Ala. Rebels in a Class D league. "But I found out," he recalls, "if you didn't have a big bonus nobody cared." On his release by the Tigers, the Pirates' minor league system expressed interest in him, but Cashman joined ABC Records in 1964. He helped write the hit Sunday Will Never Be the Same for Spanky and Our Gang, co-produced Jim Croce's hits and in 1975 formed a record company with his friends. (He had, for showbiz purposes, changed his name from Dennis Minogue.)

Divorced and the father of two teenage girls, Terry lives in Manhattan with Linda Sharlin, a magazine ad saleswoman he met in 1976. He stays fit with softball, golf and tennis and is now putting together an album of more baseball songs, including Rain Delay and Baseball Ballet, a homage to infield practice. He hasn't lost his enjoyment of the game either. "The point of view of my songs is of a kid who loves baseball," Cashman asserts. "I'm still that kid."

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