Pat Casey wins 1,000th career game the same day OSU wins Pac-12 title

Joshua Lucas Daily Barometer
Pat Casey

Mitchell Monge, News Contributor

As Mitchell Verburg struck out the final Duck batter, the entire team rushed the field in celebration.

Except for one person. 

Head coach Pat Casey remained alone in the dugout shortly after the 5-4 victory over Oregon, taking time to kneel alone at the end of the bench. Shortly thereafter, Casey joined the rest of the team on the field, raising the shiny blue Pac-12 championship trophy that would soon be covered in celebratory fingerprints. 

Not only did OSU clinch their first Pac-12 title since 2014, but Casey won his 1,000th game at the collegiate level. Casey has now won five Pac-12 titles, but clinching the Pac-12 title over the Ducks for win No. 1,000 is something special. 

“You couldn’t have drawn it up any better than that,” Redshirt sophomore pitcher Drew Rasmussen said. “A thousand is a lot, and obviously he’s been doing a great job for a long time, and there’s nobody more deserving than him. To get a championship and his 1,000th win on the same day is awesome.”

Over his decorated 23-year career at Oregon State University, Casey has won 830 games at the helm, including five Pac-12 titles, since taking over in 1995. 

“I think all those championships are special, all those players are special, all those coaches that helped me get here,” Casey said. “The staff I have now is unbelieveable. It is really special tonight, and I’m looking forward to someday sitting back and being able to enjoy some of the wins… I just feel blessed.”

With all of the players Casey has coached, he has undoubtedly left an impact on them as well. Friday night, one special ex-player was in attendance to witness his former coach make history. 

“You know what’s special is the first player I ever recruited is here tonight,” Casey said. “He was there for the first one, and here for the thousandth one, Frank Wakayama. That means something to me that he’d come down here to be a part of it.”

Casey has been influencing players like Wakayama since he began his coaching career at George Fox University in 1988. As coach of a Pac-12 baseball team, Casey has created a supportive atmosphere for his players to achieve their potential.

“I talked to some guys that have played for him before, and they had nothing but good things to say about him,” Sophomore second baseman Nick Madrigal said. “Being here for myself, I mean it’s probably the best decision I ever made in my life. I look up to that guy, and some of the stuff he says, I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life.”

Madrigal has grown as a player throughout his time at OSU, and has been named to the Brooks Wallace Award Watch List this season. Madrigal has been hitting .389 as the primary leadoff man for the No. 1 team in the nation. 

Casey’s influence on Madrigal has not only impacted the sophomore’s game, but also his character. 

“Just being a good man, on the field and off the field,” Madrigal said. “Baseball is just a game, but off the field you can be a good person too, and help people out and be a good leader.”

Becoming better baseball players and better men is something Casey has always tried to instill in his players, but he also lives it with his family off the diamond.

In 2010, Casey and his wife, Susan, were honored with the Nell and John Wooden Coaching Achievement Award, which recognizes their dedication to team’s success on the field, as well as making an impact on players’ lives throughout their time at OSU. 

Casey is a man who lives by his word, through which he gains even more respect from his players. Even during a difficult game, none of the players hang their heads, and neither does their coach. The team has handled pressure well, and has come through in big ways this season, especially in tight situations.

“It goes back to Coach Casey,” Madrigal said. “He’s really tried to implement that into us, just keep fighting every pitch, and not take a day off. Looking back on last year, we have a lot of motivation this year. We try to finish every game to the last out.” 

After missing the NCAA tournament last season, the Beavers accomplished redemption this season.

“That one definitely hurt,” Madrigal said. “We’re so motivated this year, there’s a lot of things on our mind, but it definitely hurt. I think this group is headed in the right direction, we just got to keep pushing from here on out.”

One player who was not with the team at the end of last season was Rasmussen. Getting his first start Friday night after 13 months of rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery, Rasmussen thinks that without the support of his teammates, his recovery might not have gone as smoothly.

“Playing for this team is absolutely incredible, and that’s really helped push me along in my recovery,” Rasmussen said. “The brotherly love we have is a huge reason, I would say for A) our success, and B) it’s really lifted me and helped me get to this point.” 

Brotherly love and team chemistry have turned a team into a family for Rasmussen—this season especially. A lot of that goes back to Casey and the job he has done recruiting players, as well as setting the bar high for those players.

“I remember Case said on my visit, ‘We’re going to be your family away from home,’” Rasmussen said. “And ever since day one, him and the rest of the coaching staff, the team, they’ve stuck to that word. He’s an awesome guy. He’s done an incredible job building up an incredible program here in the Northwest. He means a lot to me just because he is a great guy on and off the field.”

With two national titles and four College World Series appearances under his belt, Casey continues to build his impressive legacy at OSU. However, the winningest coach in Beaver history didn’t envision this success

from the start. 

“No, never,” Casey said. “I’ll tell you what, I love winning, there’s no doubt about that. But really, these guys are the ones that did it, I’ve got the good fortune of getting to coach them.”