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Nostalgia a hit in ballad spun by ex-pro pitcher

Terry Cashman, who began his pop music career while still in the minor leagues, may be the only professional baseball player to have performed on "American Bandstand." That was back in the late 1950s when he was the lead singer of the Chevrons. Now, more than two decades later, Cashman's stock is rising as his record "Willie, Mickey, and the 'Duke' (Talkin' Baseball)" catches on.

Actually, Terry has been a successful singer-songwriter for some time, if not really a household name. His latest disc, however, has garnered more ink than usual -- on the nation's sports pages, no less. Sports writers know a kindred spirit when they see, er, hear one.

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Anyone who follows the national pastime can appreciate the lyrics to "Willie, Mickey, and the 'Duke,'" which Cashman claims he nurtured for 20 years and wrote in 20 minutes. He wanted to write a baseball song, but couldn't come up with the right combination of ideas. Then a friend sent him a picture from an Oldtimers Day at Shea Stadium, showing Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, and Duke Snider together. Cashman grew up in New York when these legendary center fielders all played in the city, Mays for the Giants, Mantle for the Yankees, and Snider for the Dodgers.

The picture was the nostalgic anchor Cashman needed to a song he hopes will become the "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" of the '80s. A sample chorus:

We're talkin' baseball

Kluszewski, Campanella,

Talkin' baseball, the Man and Bobby Feller

The Scooter, the Barber and the Newk,

They knew 'em all from Boston to Dubuque,

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Especially Willie, Mickey and the Duke.m

Cashman once pitched in the Detroit Tiger farm system, but got out of baseball when the club showed more interest in its minor-league bonus babies. By 1967 he had collaborated in writing a Spanky and Our Gang hit, "Sunday Will Never Be the Same," and during the early '70s he helped to launch the late Jim Croce ("Don't Mess Around with Jim" and "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown") toward singing stardom.

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