From Fastballs to Curves: An Interview with Andrew Cashner
September 28, 2015
Andrew Cashner is an active Major League Baseball pitcher who has thrown nearly 9,000 pitches since 2010. When not dueling with the league's top hitters, you can find him at the range or in the field. Cashner is a passionate waterfowl hunter during the off season, and, though he rarely throws a curve at batters, he recently appeared in a campaign promoting Taurus' new Curve .380.
You grew up in Conroe, Texas, roughly 40 miles north of Houston, and you went to school at Texas Christian University near downtown Fort Worth. Did that make you a Houston Astros or a Texas Rangers fan as you grew up?
I actually grew up watching both teams. When I was in high school, [the Astros] went to the World Series, and that was huge. For sure, Fort Worth is my kinda town, but I'm an East Texas guy until I die.
You're considered a power pitcher. What's the speed of your fastest fastball?
My fastest pitch was 104 [miles per hour], and that was back in 2011. I don't have that pitch anymore. In fact, I only hit 100 a couple times this season. I use [fastballs] to help locate my pitches with velocity. When you have that extra velocity, you're able to get away with mistakes, so that's one advantage to having a good fastball.
Does any one pitch in your career stand out in particular?
The first pitch in the Majors. For me, that was on Memorial Day in 2010. I was with the Chicago Cubs, and we were playing in Pittsburgh. I managed to get an out in the 7th or 8th [inning], and that was it.
Do you throw many curves in baseball?
This year, I've thrown the most I ever have. I've been throwing curves about 10 times a game. The reason I use it is because it is a pitch that I want to look like a strike and not be a strike. But it all depends on the team I'm up against and what the game play is. I also look for where the hitter's holes are. I like facing power hitters because they have more holes to pitch through.
Whom did you idolize growing up?
I was a big fan of Nolan Ryan and Kerry Wood.
Hall-of-Famer Nolan Ryan was another power pitcher, a gun guy and an NRA member. Everyone knows you are a gun guy. Is there a connection between you two?
I've actually met him a few times. In Texas, we're all proud of him and where he's from. I don't know many Texans who are not Nolan Ryan fans and NRA
Are you an NRA member?
Yes. My dad actually signed me up when I was in high school.
When at the range or in the field, do you tend to like rifles that are highly accurate or high velocity?
I like both. One of my two favorite rifles is a custom Remington 700 chambered for .17 Fireball, and it's fast. I found it at a pawnshop in Colorado, and I had been looking for that gun for a few years. At nearly 4,000 feet-per-second, it is really fast. I definitely like varmint guns, especially those that tend to shoot accurate. If they're fast, the bullet doesn't fluctuate as much at long distances. I also have a .22-250 I've grown up with. It is straight-up old school.
Did you have a hunting or shooting hero through life?
I actually grew up watching a lot of John Wayne, and I'd pay particular attention to him shooting. Naturally, as a kid watching him, I always wanted a six-shooter.
Your father, Jeff, operated a mortuary business and your mother, Jane, was a seamstress. We've heard that you were more of a cowboy riding horses and calf-roping when you weren't playing baseball. How did that happen?
Dad was big into calf-roping, too! In fact, he had an arena I'd rope in when I was growing up. As a kid, I was just having fun. However, with baseball, things kept going my way, and opportunities kept coming up. I just decided to walk through those doors that led to a baseball career.
Tell me about your foundation, Pitching for a Cause. It's in honor of your mother, yes?
That's right. Recently, my sister had to quit her job to stay home with mom. Since then, we started doing more with a children's hospital. I wanted to give my time to helping people out, but it was my sister's idea to start the foundation. She runs it and we do what we can to help out the kids. For example, we are going to have a golf tournament in November to raise awareness for different kids and their needs. Cancer sucks, so I give my time to help put a smile on a kid's face. Those smiles make it all worth it.
Did your parents shoot and teach you to shoot?
Yes. My dad and grandfather taught me how to shoot early on. My dad has been my best friend the whole way whether it was with shooting or baseball.
I know that you were also a member of 4-H. Did you do any shooting with them?
My dad was one of the first guys in the area to help out with shooting in 4-H. As members, we shot skeet, trap and sporting clays regularly, and we would also make a point to shoot the tournaments.
I hear that you have a number of friends who were snipers or Navy SEALs. Do you get to shoot with them when in San Diego?
I've got a couple of those guys as buddies. I used to go over and shoot with them more when I was with the Cubs. That said, this past off-season I got together with the SEAL teams, and we went out to shoot. It is cool to step into their world. When I step out onto the baseball field, I feel like I know a lot. But when you step onto the range with one of those guys, it's incredible to see how much they know. Shooting is very technical, just like throwing a baseball in a windy ball field in a different city each week. If a new building or scoreboard goes up since the last game, it can change the wind's influence on a pitch. I can appreciate their level of skill development and being able to work so precisely in different environments. Whenever I'm around people like SEALs, it's more about being an observer than a shooter. That's something I've learned in baseball. There are other areas of expertise and ways to approach the details.
What is your position on the Second Amendment?
I'm a supporter of the 2A and our right to carry. This is one of those things that we should take pride in, and it's not going away.
You pitch roughly once every five days. How do you fill your time between games?
I place my focus on baseball during the season. There is too much of a chance to hurt myself doing something stupid. I cut a tendon in my thumb a few years ago, and I couldn't throw my slider after that. I had to adjust my game. My pitching coach started working on a sinker afterward. I would have never learned that sinker, so it turned out to be a learning experience. The sinker is now one of my pitches that gets me out of bad spots in a game.
How about during the off-season? Do you still love to hunt?
I do a lot more duck hunting now. My best trip I had was just last year. My whole family stayed in a lodge in Arkansas. We shot our limit by 9 a.m. There were 14 people, all family and close friends. It was such a great time after the Christmas holiday.
What would you tell your younger self?
They always say this when you get to the league: It's in your first 150 innings when the league figures you out. Then there is a constant adjustment, because teams know how they can adjust to you. That is the biggest adjustment for a new ball player.
I recently saw a video of you shooting and endorsing a Taurus Curve. I like the name play, by the way. When was the first time you shot a Taurus?
That was my first time shooting a Curve, but my dad has always had Taurus pistols. In fact, the first Taurus I bought for myself was a Millennium. It's still the gun I'm carrying today. That 9mm is one of my favorites to shoot.
You're 6 feet, 6 inches tall; 220 pounds. What was your first impression of a gun as small as the Taurus Curve? Do your hands just swallow it up?
That's the biggest thing for me with handguns. You don't really know how you're going to like it until you actually shoot the gun. The Curve fit my hand really nicely, and I didn't have any issues at all. It doesn't shoot as small as the gun is. It's also one of the more accurate pistols. Out of seven shots, I can quickly put three to four of those rounds into a bullseye.