The Newberg native and former George Fox coach setting the standard in the Pac-12 Conference

CORVALLIS — When Pat Casey entered the Goss Stadium players’ locker room after Oregon State’s victory over Oregon April 26, there was a surprise in store.

Somebody told him he had just notched his 700th career victory as the Beavers’ head coach.

“We announced it when he came in to talk to the players,” OSU assistant coach Pat Bailey said. “They clapped. He just shook his head and walked out. The players didn’t know about it until afterward. Pat didn’t know, either. I’m dead serious.”

“It never even occurred to me,” Casey said. “Beating Oregon sure did.”

Casey, a Newberg native, began the climb toward No. 800 the following day with a 7-1 rout of the Ducks for a sweep of the three-game series and moved the Beavers (34-8 overall, 17-4 in Pac-12) to the top of the conference standings with a month of schedule yet to play. The Beavers traveled to the Bay Area the following weekend and swept a series against Cal.

The 20th-year OSU mentor, who ascended to the position after a stint as head coach at George Fox University, stands 10th on the Pac-12 career victories list, a testament to Casey’s coaching acumen and work ethic as he has built the program into a national powerhouse. The Beavers, currently ranked second in the national polls, won the 2006 and 2007 College World Series and have made it to Omaha four of the past nine years, something beyond the wildest dreams of anyone when he arrived from George Fox in 1994.

“He put Northwest baseball on the map,” said Bailey, who succeeded Casey at George Fox and has been on his OSU staff for seven years. “Winning 700 is an unbelievable accomplishment. The best part of it is, Pat is such a humble guy. (The landmark) is important to him, but he couldn’t care less about records. All he cares about are our players.

“He wants our guys to play hard and do things right and work hard. He cares about them as human beings. He wants to make them better people. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for what Pat believes in. Our program is about three things: building character, teaching kids to have great work habits in the classroom and on the field, and making others more important than yourself.”

Casey, 53, is mindful of his achievement but shrugs off any personal acclaim.

“Numbers go with longevity,” said Casey, 875-510 over 26 years at Oregon State and George Fox. “I’ve always said it’s humbling to be a coach. The higher the level, the more humbling it is. Had I not been offered the job at Oregon State in 1994, I’d probably be doing something different in life. I’d have missed the greatest experience I could have. I’m honored to be at a place like Oregon State.

“Those numbers reflect a lot of hard work from a lot of people — players, coaches, trainers, SIDs, boosters. I’ve been very fortunate to have the support of so many.”

Casey loves what Oregon State baseball has become to its fans.

“The grandfather of one of our equipment managers told me he gets goosebumps when he gets to the city limits, coming to games at Goss (Stadium),” Casey said. “That puts it in a nutshell for me, when people feel like that. (Former pitcher) Matt Boyd’s parents got in a car and drove down from Washington for a recent series. They said they missed Beaver baseball, that there is a void in their lives now. There’s something special about the people and the place.”

How many phone calls, texts and emails of congratulations did Casey receive after his recent milestone?

“Trust me, more than I returned, unfortunately,” he said. Those goals include a second straight Pac-12 championship and one of eight national seeds in the NCAA playoffs.

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