When Norm Cash took a table leg to the plate for the Detroit Tigers

Norm Cash 1973 Nolan Ryan no-hitter Detroit Tigers California Angels

Always a joker, Tiger slugger Norm Cash brought this table leg to the plate to face unhittable Nolan Ryan during a 1973 game at Tiger Stadium.

I finally found it!

For years I have been trying to locate either a photo or a video of the most famous prank pulled off by Norm Cash, one of the most popular players ever in Tiger history.

The Norm Cash stories–even just the ones that can be repeated–are endless. Like the time he was trapped between first and second base and he formed a “T’ with his hands to call time-out.

But the most comical and audacious move he ever made occurred on July 15, 1973 at Tiger Stadium when he stepped to the plate as the last hitter to face Nolan Ryan who was trying to complete his second career no hitter after striking out 17 batters.

After striking out three times, as legend has it Stormn’ Norman walked up to the plate with a table leg from the locker room. The plate umpire, Ron Luciano told him he couldn’t use it and Cash responded, “Why not I won’t him anyway” before tossing it aside.

Can you imagine the nerve Cash had to go to home plate with such an historical event on the line and everybody watching?

Apparently it didn’t faze Ryan who got Cash to pop up for the final out to preserve his no hitter.

No photo has ever been produced that shows Cash with the table leg.

Even when you listen to the tape of Ernie Harwell calling the no hitter he never mentions Cash holding the odd looking piece of wood or throwing it away in exchange for his favorite Louisville Slugger loaded with pine tar up to the label. And that is because most likely

Ernie didn’t understand what was going on at home plate between Cash and Luciano.

However the other night while online I somehow stumbled across a highlight video from the MLB network with Bob Costas describing Ryan’s Detroit no hitter. And believe it or not Costas tells the table leg story as the tape rolls and you can see it clearly on the attached video clip link that accompanies this blog.

The table leg incident with Cash appears at the 1 minute mark. At 1:13 you will see Cash facing Ryan holding a long white table leg and at 1:29 you will see Cash tossing it away after Luciano ordered him to get rid of it.

Enjoy it.

(But it’s just a shame we can’t ask Norm about it.)

RARE VIDEO: Norm Cash brings a table leg to the plate to face Nolan Ryan during no-hitter in 1973

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About Bill Dow

Bill Dow has written numerous articles on Detroit sports history as a regular freelance contributor to the Detroit Free Press sports page, and some of his work has been published in Baseball Digest magazine. He also wrote the Afterword to the latest editions of George Plimpton’s book Paper Lion.