"An All-Star Couple"
Fifty Plus Magazine
by gayla mills
When Eddie Kasko came here in 1954 to play for the minor league Richmond Virginians, he had no idea he’d find both lifelong romance and an all-star baseball career. But he did.
And when William and Mary freshman Catherine Bache went to Parker Field (now the Diamond) with a date, she had no idea she’d meet her favorite Virginians’ ballplayer and future husband. But she did.
Despite going on to play ten years for four different teams in the majors, Eddie managed to keep Richmond his home throughout his lifelong career. Now he and Catherine can boast over fifty years settled in Richmond, where they have two sons, four granddaughters, and a playful black dog named Pepper. Throughout it all, baseball has been the backdrop for their lives together.
During Eddie’s career, he played shortstop in over 1,000 games for the St. Louis Cardinals, the Cincinnati Reds, the Houston Astros, and the Boston Red Sox. He worked the longest for the Red Sox, first as ballplayer, then manager, then executive scout for new talent. But his greatest years as a player were with the Cincinnati Reds. Not only was he at his peak as a player, but he was able to play with his Reds teammates during their famous battle with the Yankees for the World Series in 1961.
One of the greatest joys of playing in the Series, according to Eddie, was competing against some of baseball’s greats, including Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle. When you play the World Series, said Eddie, “You don’t sleep the night before.” With over 67,000 people in the stands, it was hard for his stomach to settle down. But once the game started, he was ready for action. In fact, he ended up leading the team in hits for the ’61 series.
That same year, Eddie was chosen by the fans to be a National League All Star. “It was a big honor,” said Eddie, “because you’re playing with the best players in the league.” His teammates for the game included Hank Aaron and Willie Mays. The excitement of playing a “showcase” game has stayed with him, but it can’t compare, he says, to the yearlong team effort that goes into playing a World Series.
But it wasn’t just on the field where Eddie had good luck. Years earlier when he was first introduced to Catherine after a game, he was encouraged by a clearly prescient match-maker from whom he was renting a room. “Call her,” Mrs. Ciss Galloway said. “This is the girl you’re going to marry.” So he did.
Catherine was ready. She had been a lifelong baseball fan and had been told by her mother “I certainly hope you marry a ball player!” Her grandfather would take her to the games and had recommended that she pick out a special player to root for. The one she had picked was Eddie Kasko. So when he called her for that first date, it wasn’t hard for her to say yes. And she did.
They settled in Richmond despite his hectic schedule. They would leave town in February and rent a short term place until October, when they could return to their Richmond house for the winter. They spent their first seven years in Lakeside, then their next thirty-nine in Chamberlayne Hills. As their boys grew, Catherine waited until summer before bringing the family together in whatever city Eddie was visiting that year.
One baseball season they were treated to an offer of the manager’s box. It was the highest rent district in the stadium, the envy of the fans, but Catherine rejected the offer after the first game. “Get me some seats where I can see the game,” she said. So back they went to their favorite: seats on the third base side, where they could also look in the dugout and see Eddie.
One of the highlights for the kids was when the club arranged father/son games back to back. The sons of the ball players got to play each other before the fathers took the field. The boys were even able to wear uniforms with “Kasko” written on the back and to bask in some glory of their own.
After Eddie left the field as a player, he stayed with the Red Sox as their manager. Under his management, the team had a .540 winning percentage. He then went on to become an executive scout for the team, seeking out new talent on ball fields around the country. “I got to see a lot of people I already knew from playing and managing. It was a great job.”
Since Eddie retired, he and Catherine have enjoyed spending the whole year in one place. Last September they moved to Westminster Canterbury for a maintenance-free life. Pepper is happy there as well, content to chase tennis balls rather than baseballs. Eddie has done the same, as he now hits golf balls instead of baseballs. Yet he and Catherine remain, of course, avid baseball fans. It must be in the blood.