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Thursday, May 13, 2010


MEDFORD -- Sunday's celebratory dousing of Tufts University baseball coach John Casey with a water cooler by his players was emblematic of more than just the team's New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) championship victory that day. The Jumbos' 6-1 win over Bowdoin College was also the 500th win of Casey's 27-year career at Tufts.

Casey, a 1980 Tufts graduate, became the 53rd coach in NCAA Division III baseball history to reach the 500 wins milestone. The team's 31-5 record this spring, which is the best in team history, has improved Casey's overall record at Tufts to 500-322-3 for a .608 winning percentage. He is the all-time leader in Tufts coaching victories, and is second all-time among NESCAC coaches behind Amherst's Bill Thurston (811). He is the seventh New England Division III coach to do it.

The 500th win came in his 825th game at Tufts. In a winner-take-all game against the Polar Bears, Tufts scored four runs in the sixth, including RBI singles by junior RF Chase Rose (Scottsdale, AZ) and senior catcher Alex Perry (Danvers, MA). Sophomore DH Matt Collins (Hopkinton, MA) had two hits for Tufts, scoring a run in the sixth and hitting an RBI double in the seventh as Tufts tacked on two more runs. After scoring in the first inning, Bowdoin wasn't able to muster much more offensive production against eight Tufts pitchers. The Tufts staff allowed only three hits.  Sophomore Jake Crawford (Boise, ID) pitched a perfect top of the sixth to pick up the win. Senior Tom Hill (Robbinsville, NJ) pitched a 1-2-3 fourth with two strikeouts and junior Ed Bernstein (Foxborough, MA) struck out the side in the eighth.

"Playing for Coach Casey has been an honor," said senior tri-captain Corey Pontes (Milton, MA). "To take the field for a coach with such a knowledge for the game and a tradition of winning has been all I could ask for as an athlete. He knows how to get the best out of his players, and he makes us better players on the field, and more importantly, better men off of it."

"There is no one else I would rather play baseball for than Coach Casey," Perry added. "I could not think of a better man to have his 500th win happen when we won the NESCAC this year. The passion he has for baseball and the life lessons he teaches his players are what make him a special person and coach."

Hired as the baseball coach at his alma mater in June 1983, Casey earned his first victory with an 18-8 final against Suffolk in the second game of the 1984 season. He reached 100 in the first game of a doubleheader at Trinity College on April 20, 1991, a 7-4 victory. A 21-4 win against Colby-Sawyer College at home on April 14, 1997 was the 200th win of Casey's tenure. He got to 300 quickly, with the team's 7-2 win against Bates in the first game of a doubleheader on March 30, 2002 in their New England opener. The Jumbos gave him win #400 at home against Colby on April 29, 2006 with a 12-4 final score.

Casey attended Tufts from 1976-80, earning three varsity letters in both football and baseball before graduating cum laude. He earned a master's degree in education from Tufts in 1983. As a baseball pitcher, he compiled a record of 8-3 with four saves and a 3.23 earned run average. He was also a member of the undefeated 1979 football team as a wide receiver.

During his 27 seasons at Tufts, the Jumbos have been one of the most competitive teams in New England. The team has earned NCAA Tournament berths in 1995, 2002, and in 2010. They won ECAC New England championships in 1989, 1994, 1996, and 1997. Casey groomed Major League Baseball (MLB) draft picks Jeff Taglienti and Dan Callahan, along with MLB free agent signee Randy Newsom.

This year, Casey skippered Tufts to its fourth NESCAC East Division pennant. He was named the conference's Coach of the Year. Along with his role as baseball coach, Casey is also an assistant director of athletics at Tufts.