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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Interview Part 1: Kash Beauchamp, Played Hard

Toledo's Ned Skeldon Stadium in 2011. It was at Ned Skeldon that Beauchamp was injured on a play at the plate in 1986, possibly costing him a shot at the majors. (G21D Photo)
Part 1: Played Hard | Part 2: Big Memory 
Part 3: Pretty Simple | Part 4: Fight For

As he rounded third, Kash Beauchamp knew there was going to be a play at the plate.

In this summer 1986 contest at AAA Toledo, Syracuse's Beauchamp didn't even think about sliding.

"I ran into him," Beauchamp recalled recently to The Greatest 21 Days. "I hit him as hard as I could."

The reason he never thought about sliding was the catcher had committed a perceived transgression during Beauchamp's at bat, Beauchamp recalled. And, given his chance, Beauchamp took it.

Beauchamp got the catcher good, he recalled. He also got himself good, breaking his own shoulder blade and, he learned later, possibly costing him his shot at the bigs. A slot on the Blue Jays in Toronto likely would have opened up for him days after, but he was on the disabled list.

It was a play that Beauchamp said, had he known a call up was coming, he wouldn't have run over that catcher, adding later maybe he would have. But, Beauchamp added, there was another thing.

"I may have never gotten to AAA unless I played that way," Beauchamp said. "I might have never gotten to where I had gotten if I didn't play that way, if I didn't play hard, if I didn't break up double plays, if I didn't sacrifice my body to dive for balls or run into walls in the outfield."

As it turned out, in a career where saw time in 14 pro seasons, Beauchamp never made the majors.
Kash Beauchamp in his later years as a coach in independent ball. With the Samurai Bears of the Golden League in 2005. (Photo Provided)
Beauchamp spoke with The Greatest 21 Days by phone recently from his Tulsa-area home. A member of the 1990 Phoenix Firebirds, Beauchamp recounted his professional career, from growing up in Oklahoma the son of a major leaguer, to turning pro himself and pursuing his own major league dreams.

He spoke of his early success, and later injuries that slowed his career. He then spoke of his turn to independent ball, first as a player and later as a manager, where he gained a reputation for defending his players and for sometimes fiery confrontations with umpires.

Beauchamp also spoke about his father, Jim Beauchamp and his impact on Kash's career, the father giving his son tips, but not overly coaching him. His father was also in the minors in 1990, serving as manager of the AAA Richmond Braves. He passed away in 2007. His father was also a bench coach in Atlanta for the winning Braves teams.

Jim Beauchamp, a longtime coach and manager after his own playing days were done, didn't get to see his son play as a pro until a few seasons into his son's career. But when he did, Kash seemed to play his best.

Kash Beauchamp grew up in Grove, Ok, the same town his father grew up in. The son of a player, Kash was also exposed to baseball at an early age. He was always told his first word wasn't the usual first word. His first word was "ball."

"It's all I can ever remember, It's all I ever wanted to do," Beauchamp said. "I can never remember not wanting to be like my dad and to play major league baseball. That was the goal from an early age."
Kash Beauchamp, bottom right, with his parents and brother in 1970 or 1971. (Photo Provided)
And he had plenty of work at that growing up. Beauchamp was old enough to see his father play and hang around in the clubhouse. Jim Beauchamp played in the majors for five different clubs, from 1963 to 1973. His father didn't play his last game until Beauchamp was 11.

And Beauchamp continued to pursue the game, and was passionate about it, something he believes his father was happy about. His dad also worked with his son, but not overly coaching him.

"He basically would give me tips every now and told me that I needed to work my butt off," Kash said.

His dad would also pass along tips, including with his swing, and instilling in his son a work ethic.

"He kind of really focused on telling me what I needed to do in order to get to the next level," Kash said. "For me, it was training, it was practicing, getting out on my own and practicing."

Beauchamp was able to follow his father in the summer, first as his father was a player and then after he transitioned to managing. Beauchamp recalled enjoying being with his father more when his dad was a minor league manager than when he was a major league player.

Kash Beauchamp, right, with his brother Tim, second to right, at Crosley Field in 1969. With them is hit king Pete Rose and Rose's daughter Fawn. (Photo Provided)
"When he was in the minor leagues," Beauchamp explained, "I could actually get on the field and take batting practice, take ground balls, fly balls, with my dad's club."

He also got some instruction from his dad's players, helping him with different aspects of the game, Beauchamp recalled.

By the time Kash was 16, he recalled, he started staying home to focus on his skills with the local American Legion team, with the goal of going on to play in college and then the pros.

Also by the time, Beauchamp was playing multiple sports, adding football and basketball to the mix. It was to his time in high school football that Beauchamp attributed his later tendency to not shy away from contact on the baseball field.

With his American Legion team, Beauchamp credited his coach there, the late Darrell Burroughs, with having as much of an impact on his career as his father. Burroughs, Beauchamp recalled, was a tough enough coach to get in Beauchamp's face, if he needed it.
Another photo of Kash Beauchamp, right, his brother Tim, left, in 1969 with their dad, then-Red Jim Beauchamp. (Photo Provided)
"I didn't deal with failure very well," Beauchamp said. "I was stubborn and hard-headed. Darrell really brought discipline to my game."

Out of high school, Beauchamp didn't get scouted much. Offered small scholarships at Division 1 programs, Beauchamp instead decided to go to junior college, attending Bacone College in Oklahoma.

Playing at Bacone in the fall, Beauchamp caught the eye of scouts. When time came for the January draft, multiple clubs were interested. With the first overall pick in the draft, the Blue Jays selected Beauchamp.

The Blue Jays also happened to be the team his father was working for at the time. That wasn't something Beauchamp was thrilled about, with the assumptions that came with it.

His father, though, wasn't in favor of the selection, Beauchamp recalled. In fact, his father tried to talk the team out of drafting him. The dad wanted his son to go back to school.

Maybe his father was on to something, at least from the Blue Jays' end, Beauchamp noted. Also available in that draft, taken by the Twins two slots later, was a player by the name of Kirby Puckett.

But, as January's first-overall pick, Beauchamp weighed his options. He finally chose to sign.

"I eventually decided let's go play, let's do what I've dreamed of doing my whole life," Beauchamp recalled, "and let's start playing pro ball."

Go to Part 2: Kash Beauchamp, Big Memory

Part 1: Played Hard | Part 2: Big Memory 
Part 3: Pretty Simple | Part 4: Fight For

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