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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Interview Part 3: Kash Beauchamp, Pretty Simple

The home dugout at Richmond's The Diamond in 2011. Jim Beauchamp spent three seasons patrolling that dugout as manager of the old AAA Richmond Braves. (G21D Photo)
Part 1: Played Hard | Part 2: Big Memory 
Part 3: Pretty Simple | Part 4: Fight For

Kash Beauchamp's average dropped, but he seemed to get hits when it counted, he recalled.

He only hit five home runs all year for the 1989 Richmond Braves, but he recalled three of them came down the stretch. One helped put them in first place for good.

"But," Beauchamp recalled, "the greatest thing was getting to spend the year with my father. I learned a lot about the game that year."

Beauchamp's father, Jim Beauchamp was already deep into his second career as a minor league skipper. That came after a playing career in the majors that lasted a decade.

With that experience, Kash recalled, came expectations: "Show up on time, bust your butt every day, play as hard as you can, be a professional on and off the field and respect the game by the way you carry yourself.

"Pretty simple."

Kash 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.
Shea Stadium in Queens in 2004. Jim Beauchamp played at Shea in 1972 and 1973. He also returned to the park later as a bench coach for the Braves in the 1990s. (G21D Photo)
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. Jim Beauchamp passed away in 2007. His father was also a bench coach in Atlanta for the winning Braves teams.

Jim Beauchamp's career in baseball began in 1958, signed by the Cardinals as a amateur free agent out of his native Oklahoma.

Jim debuted with St. Louis five years later, in 1963. It was the same year his son Kash came along.

"I tell people all the time that every meal I've ever eaten, baseball's probably been responsible for it," Kash said, "because that's how my dad fed me when I was a kid."

Jim Beauchamp ended up playing in 10 major league seasons for five clubs, serving his last years with the Mets. His final major league time came in 1973, ending with four at bats in the World Series.
Kash Beauchamp, left, sister Ann Rene, center, and brother Tim, right, at Cardinals father and son game at Busch Stadium. Their father Jim Beauchamp played for the team in 1970 and 1971. (Photo Provided)
He soon started his minor league managerial career, returning to one of his old clubs, the Astros. His first team was AA Columbus in 1975. He then ended up managing somewhere every season through 1990. Most of that time was spent at AAA.

Kash recalled his father always earning the respect of his players.

"It wasn't something he asked for or demanded," Kash Beauchamp said. "It was just there. My dad didn't say a lot, but when he said something, you could take it to the bank."

By 1985, Jim Beauchamp arrived in the Braves system, taking over at AA Greenville. It was another organization he had played for previously. Jim played eight total games for the Braves in the 1960s, the first four when the club was in Milwaukee.

But it was with the Braves that Jim Beauchamp found a home. It was the players that Beauchamp managed in the minors for the Braves in the late 1980s that became the core of the winning Atlanta Braves teams of the 1990s.

He had Tom Glavine, Ron Gant, Dave Justice, Mark Lemke, Jeff Blauser, John Smoltz, all before they were household names.

"It was very rewarding for my dad to come up with the Gants, the Justices," Kash recalled. And don't think that my dad didn't sit down and have it out with with guys like Dave Justice and Ronnie Gant and Jeff Blauser.

"He aired those guys out in their development in the minor leagues. And they respected him for it."

The, as those guys made it to the majors, and started having success, Jim Beauchamp went right with them.

In 1991, the year of Atlanta's first World Series team, Beauchamp moved up and became the team's major league bench coach. And he stayed in that position through 1998, including in 1995 when the team broke through and won it all.

That long stint his dad spent in Atlanta, Kash said, "was God saying 'Here is your reward for doing what you did in the minor leagues all those years."
A promo poster of the 1989 Richmond Braves. Manager Jim Beauchamp is seated in the chair center. His son Kash is second in from the right. To Kash's right is David Justice. (Photo Provided)
When his time in Atlanta was over, Jim Beauchamp returned to the minors, as a roving instructor. It was also a move his dad was happy to make, Kash said.

"He got back down to the roots of baseball," Kash said. "He got to work with guys like Jeff Francoeur and help them get to the big leagues."

After his father passed away in December 2007 at the age of 68, the Braves showed how much he meant to the organization. They did so by wearing a patch throughout the 2008 season with Jim Beauchamp's nickname, "Beach."

"That was an unbelievable tribute to my father when they wore that 'Beach' patch," Kash Beauchamp said. "That tells you about the respect that everybody had for my dad."

As a manager in the minors, Kash recalled, one of the ways his father earned that respect was by supporting his players.

"Every player that played for my dad knew my dad had their back," Kash said. "Whether it was with other teams or with umpires, my dad was going to protect his player and that's something I tried to carry over into my career as a manager."

Kash Beauchamp went on to his own career as a coach and as a manager, after he finished up his playing career.

Go to Part 4, Kash Beauchamp, Fight For

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

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