Frank Cashen dies at age 88

Frank Cashen, the architect of the 1986 world champion New York Mets, died Monday, a team spokesman said. He was 88.

Cashen, who died at Memorial Hospital in Easton, Maryland, served as Mets general manager from 1980 through 1991, transforming the organization from a perennial loser into a juggernaut.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Mets owned the best record in Major League Baseball during Cashen's final eight seasons, compiling a 743-550 mark from 1984 to 1991.

"On behalf of all of us at the Mets, we extend our deepest condolences to Jean Cashen and her entire family," Mets principal owner Fred Wilpon said in a statement. "Frank Cashen revitalized our franchise when he took over in 1980 as general manager and helped engineer us to a world championship in 1986.

"I dealt with Frank on a daily basis, and he was a man of integrity and great passion. No one had a more diverse career than Frank. He was also a lawyer, sports writer and marketing executive. His accomplishments will always be an integral part of our team history."

The bowtie-wearing GM engineered the June 15, 1983, trade that brought Keith Hernandez from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Mets. He also invigorated a farm system that produced Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry.

"Frank was our leader," Strawberry said Monday. "I always admired the way he put together our team. He mixed young guys, like me and Doc [Gooden], with guys like [Gary] Carter and Hernandez. He was able to find the perfect blend to build a championship."

Cashen regularly attended spring training games in Port St. Lucie, Florida, even through this March.

"I had dinner with Frank every spring ever since I came back with the Mets," said former Mets infielder Wally Backman, who now manages the Las Vegas 51s. "He was a great baseball man. I liked to bounce ideas off of him. He was one of a kind."

Cashen previously served as an executive with the Baltimore Orioles when they won titles in 1966 and 1970.

He is survived by his wife, Jean, seven children and nine grandchildren.

The Mets originally had stated that Cashen was 91.