Perhaps no one knows what it means to endure hardships better than Ralston Cash, a Cornelia native who is a minor league pitcher in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization.
In fact, a tattoo on Cash’s right arm with a key and the word “perseverance” remind him of the key to success. For Cash, 25, who played his high school prep ball at nearby Lakeview Academy in Gainesville, he’s endured more than most people his age in terms of adversity. Not only has he endured, but he’s reached out to help others overcome their hardships as well.
For Ralston Cash, his life has been full of tragedy that most people haven’t experienced. His mother, Angie Cash, died in a single-car accident when he was just three years old, leaving him parent-less at the time, as his father was not part of his life. His grandparents, Ralph and Sue Cash, adopted him following the accident. His grandparents became his parents, and his uncle and aunt became his brother and sister.
“It’s a chance to be an example. I lost two parents before I was 20. That puts me in position to help a lot of people who have experienced loss. Everybody has a reason. Maybe that’s mine.” -Ralston Cash
Years later, in 2008, Cash nearly lost his own life when his vehicle was destroyed in a one-car wreck after hitting four trees head-on. Although suffering some bruises, Cash walked away miraculously unharmed. However, while he was recovering from the wreck, his father and grandfather, Ralph Cash, was diagnosed with bladder cancer. He then passed away in 2012. Cash lost two parents before the age of 20, so his heart is bent on helping others who have experienced similar experiences.
Cash started the Ralston Cash Foundation, which raises money from T-shirt sells from Boomtown Tees for kids who have lost a parent to cancer. The proceeds help give back to those struggling with loss. A second round pick in 2010 by the Dodgers in the MLB draft, Cash puts just as much effort into this cause as he does in his drive to reach the Big Leagues. The Ralston Cash Foundation has allowed him to bring Christmas to those aforementioned families that are having a difficult time.
Cash has continued to use his platform as a star MLB prospect to bring more exposure to his foundation. His shirts, as he’ll often be seen wearing as a conversation starter, have his likeness on it, complete with his trademark curled mustache. Even some of his closest friends, including Dodgers shortstop Corey Seagers, will also wear his shirts to help bring awareness. According to various statements by Cash, his foundation raised over $10,000 in 2015 alone and helped benefit some 17 or 18 kids.
On the diamond, things continue to piece together just fine for Cash. He was promoted during the 2016 season from AA to AAA Oklahoma City, pitching in relief for the OKC Dodgers. 2016 was perhaps his best season to date, as he put together a 9-3 record in 46 relief appearances between the AA Tulsa Drillers and AAA OKC Dodgers. He pitched to the tune of a 2.87 ERA, marking his best in six minor league seasons, also posting personal bests in strikeouts (84) and innings pitched (69).
Cash had previously committed to the University of Georgia before deciding to sign with the Dodgers after being drafted so high. Of the 2010 draft picks by the Dodgers, only Cash and current Dodgers player Joc Pederson are still in the organization.
For his minor league career, Cash has an even 21-21 record with a 3.70 ERA, adding six saves and 334 strikeouts in 318-plus innings of work. Cash has endured more than just loss of family, but his perseverance has extended into his career as well. Major hip surgery ended his rookie season in 2010 prematurely, and left him out of action for the entirety of 2011. Rather than let it derail him as it would most other young athletes, Cash came back stronger in 2012 and more determined.
“Negative things are going to happen, but you can choose to look at the positive,” Cash has been on record as saying. “People sometimes ask me why bad things happen to me. The way I look at it, I’m pretty strong, and I’m able to handle it. It’s better the bad things happen to me than to someone who can’t handle it and who might let it ruin their life.”
Cash had injured his hip in 2010 sliding on a muddy mound, feeling a pop. His pubic bone suffered serious damage, including a good amount of scar tissue that had developed and had to be cleaned out. After ending his 2010 season early and losing his entire 2011 season, surgery also took part of his 2012 campaign. Tragedy struck again during his rehab. He got a call from Sue Cash saying that his two-week old nephew had passed away. Following that loss, he broke a rib throwing a pitch the next season, costing him another couple of months. Instead of letting life’s curveballs overwhelm him, Cash used his life experience of dealing with adversity to, once again, rise above it.
While many others have crumbled over less than Cash has been through, even more have failed to use their platform that God has given them properly. Not so for Cash. Clearly he maximizes his level of success to use that “stage” to give back and help others.
“It’s a chance to be an example,” said Cash. “I lost two parents before I was 20. That puts me in position to help a lot of people who have experienced loss. Everybody has a reason. Maybe that’s mine.”
Indeed, Cash has a powerful testimony, and clearly has been spared by God, as evidenced not only in his own one-car wreck, but in the one that claimed his mother’s life. Last-minute plans of taking him to a baby-sitter kept him from being in the car that day in 1995. According to Cash, officers were amazed he walked out of his own wreck and told him it was the worst accident they had ever seen where someone walked away from it.
Cash, soon after, re-dedicated his life to the Lord and made sure from then on, through his success of being a professional baseball player with a gifted right arm that throws a 96-mph fastball, to use his career as a platform to share his faith and show love to others that have suffered.
A Tulsa-based company called Boomtown Tees sells T-shirts with Cash’s likeness on it — big curly mustache, glasses and a man-bun hairdo for $20. Part of the proceeds from the shirt go to the foundation, which helps fund gifts for children during the Holiday Season. The Gloveworks glove company also sells a Cash-model baseball glove with a handlebar mustache embroidered into it. For every glove sold, $10 goes to the foundation.
*Some information in this article gathered from various media outlets, including MiLB.com, ESPN, Gainesville Times and other Dodgers media reports.