BY KERRY EGGERS/PORTLAND TRIBUNE/Former Beavers recall what it was like to play for the newly retired Oregon State baseball coach -- and what they think of new interim coach Pat Bailey

TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Oregon State's Pat Casey addresses the crowd of Pioneer Courthouse Square in celebration of the Beavers' 2018 national baseball championship.In Corvallis and various regions across the country, word that Pat Casey has stepped down as head baseball coach at Oregon State created a hurricane of reaction on Thursday.

The Portland Tribune reached out to a number of former players, asking for thoughts on their coach and an opinion on how Pat Bailey will do as interim head coach.

  • GREG PEAVY, pitcher, 2008-10. Working at Northwest Futures Baseball Academy in Vancouver, Washington, while finishing up his OSU degree in sociology online.

    "Everyone wanted Coach Casey to be there until he couldn't be on this earth anymore, but if the time is now, he deserves it. I'm excited for him. He ended his career the way most coaches can only dream of — winning a national championship. He's one of the most inspiring coaches I had in my career. He's one fantastic human being, genuinely a good person, an incredible motivator.

    "When I think of 'Case,' I think of grit. His whole mantra is to fight. He taught me how to compete at a level I thought I was never capable of. Whether or not he coaches again is entirely up to him. It's going to be tough to keep him away. He loves the game of baseball. He's an unbelievable coach. Would I be shocked if he came back? Absolutely not. But I do think he'll enjoy watching the game from the outside.

    "'Bailes' will be phenomenal as head coach. He has been a huge part in recruiting all those players. With his relationship with (pitching) Coach (Nate) Yeskie and with his players, I don't see him breaking stride at all with what they've built there."

    JAKE RODRIGUEZ, catcher, 2011-13. Working as director of operations for Oregon State baseball.

    "It was a sad day. We don't have our great leader anymore. But I'm happy for Coach. What a wonderful career. Look at the stadium he built, the atmosphere around the program. Throughout the country, people look at Oregon State baseball as they do Alabama football. It's incredible what he has done in 24 years. It's cool he was able to coach two of his sons. Everything he has done is pretty special.

    "Coach Casey always seemed to get the most out of everybody. He knew how to interact with each player separately. He knew which players he could get into on a day-to-day basis, and which guys he had to put his arm around and feed confidence to. He was willing to go the extra mile for the kid who was struggling at times and needed that help. What made him such a great coach is he treated everybody differently, but demanded the same kind of effort out of everybody.

    "Coach Bailey will do a great job. He has been here for 11 years. I don't know that a lot of stuff will change for us. We won't have Coach Casey, but Bailes demands the same kind of respect. He has worked hard for it. He has great instincts. Not having No. 5 in the dugout on game day will be a change, though, for sure."

    TREVOR LARNACH, outfielder, 2016-18. Hitting .303 with five home runs in 42 minor-league games. Currently with Cedar Rapids Kernels in Single-A Midwest League playoffs.

    "I never thought he would do it. I know he could never stay away from the field during my time at Oregon State. Coach Case is such a competitor. When he got suspended last year for four games, he couldn't watch the games, and he was going crazy. I thought he would coach at least until (his son) Joe was gone. But man, he got to go out on top.

    "What a worker. During the offseason we'd have workouts at 6 a.m. four days a week and he'd be out there running with a hoody on at 5:30. He'd always be at the field throwing (batting practice). He was a coach who put things into perspective. He'd tell us we're getting the opportunity to play baseball at a great school like Oregon State; meanwhile, guys are on the other side of the world fighting for our country. He looked for perfection. He was doing what he could to get the best out of you and the team. When you have a coach who truly pushes you, it leaves a pretty hard mark on you and your teammates.

    "He would do anything for you. He's the most selfless guy I've known, the best coach I've had and the best individual I've been around. I'm lucky to have been a part of his legendary career. I can't say enough things to capture his greatness. He is the best leader you can ask for. He always talks about what it means to carry yourself with confidence, to be bold, fearless, all that stuff. When you see our team come back after losing the first game of the College World Series and go through six elimination games to win, that's a testament to the culture he built at Oregon State.

    "It's hard for people to see him go, because he has truly changed people's lives. He changed my life. I came to Oregon State as a kid who liked to play baseball; I came out a man and a winner. As soon as you get on campus, he teaches you to get after it, to do everything the best you can. Ask any one of those guys on the team or the guys before us, he brings the best out of you.

    "Bailes is a great coach. He knows his stuff. He was one of the hardest workers on the staff. When Coach Case got suspended for a few games, Coach Bailey took over and there wasn't anything different. We went out and played the game the way we were taught by all the coaches. He'll keep the same culture. He's more organized than Coach Case. If he hadn't had Bailes, it would have been pretty crazy."

    JONAH NICKERSON, pitcher, 2004-06, working in purchasing for Grain Millers in Eugene.

    "My era of Oregon State baseball is coming to an end. When I think of Oregon State baseball, Pat is the first person I think of. That legacy will get passed on and the program will be fine. I was a little shocked and a little saddened, but I'm happy for Pat. He has earned it. He has accomplished more than anyone ever thought he would. That program has gotten to a place where no one could ever have imagined.

    "The main reason I wanted to go to Oregon State was because I knew Pat would challenge me every day. I knew I would become a better player, a better student, a better person. He was a competitor, someone who hated to lose and loved to win. He wanted to get the most out of his players., but it wasn't always about baseball for him. It was about life and creating better people. There was always the baseball side of it for me, but I knew there was more that he cared about than that."

    MICHAEL GRETLER, third base, 2015-18. Hit .274 in 45 games for West Virginia Black Bears of Single-A short-season New York-Penn League.

    "It's sad, but he has his reasons. What he has done for the baseball program at Oregon State is unbelievable. We were all very lucky to play for him. Every single one of his players will tell you how special his leadership was. The biggest thing he taught me was the mind-set of how you should approach life. Always believe in yourself no matter the situation. That's the one thing that will stick with me forever. No matter what you do, you have to be the best at whatever it is.

    "Bailes will do an incredible job as head coach. He made the practice schedule every single day. He has been on the recruiting trail for years. He has had head coaching experience, and he is very familiar with Oregon State. With Coach Yeskie and (Andy Jenkins) and whoever they add, it's going to be a great staff, and a lot of great players who will help the transition. No way its not going to be a premiere program just because Case retired."

    JACK ANDERSON, outfield, 2015-18. Attending grad school at Regis University in Denver and working toward a doctorate in physical therapy.

    "It was a shock to us players. We all thought he was coming back. But we know he wouldn't do anything without putting time into thinking about it and doing what's right for him and the program and for his family. I've always trusted everything Case has said and done. This is no different.

    "To him, coaching was nothing without the relationships behind it. I'll always remember my relationship with him. All the coaches there are special, but especially him. Many guys will say Coach Casey believed in us before we believed in ourselves. He was always someone we could look up to and would do everything we could to help him win. He'd do the same thing for us.

    "I love Coach Bailey to death. He recruited me to Oregon State. He is the behind-the-scenes guy who gets so many guys from the Northwest to go there. There's not a better guy for this moment. He knows the program inside and out. The program is going to stay the same even with a new captain of the ship. I'm excited to see where he takes the team this next year."

    ANDY JENKINS, infield/catcher, 2004-05. Assistant coach, Oregon State.

    "I have mixed emotions. That's my coach. That's my boss. That's a good friend, somebody who's always been good for me. With what he has done for the program and baseball in the Northwest and college baseball nationally, it's sad to see a guy like that go. Ultimately, everybody wants him to be happy, to be at peace, to be healthy, and check into the next chapter of whatever is in store for Pat Casey.

    "As a player, he pushes you to your limits. He makes you realize things that you didn't think you could do, what kind of potential is out there. I can't imagine a person with a greater competitive spirit than him. He never skips a pitch, a minute, an inning, a day, a meeting. He's in it to win it. He puts his foot down and keeps everybody on their toes.

    "Coach Bailey does a great job. He's a leader of men. He has great values. It will be a different tone, with a different mood at times, but he's a competitive guy, too, and he's a winner. He has a lot of Case's charactistics. Nate and I need to step up and fill in wherever. I'm not concerned about how we're going to move forward as a team. It's going to be sad and even a little eerie without Case around at practice, but we're going to get it done. I'm looking forward to the challenge."

    DARWIN BARNEY, second base/shortstop, 2005-07. Retired and living in Portland after an eight-year major-league career.

    "I'm sad about it, but I'm also happy for him for being able to get to know his family on a different level. It's a sad day for Beaver baseball, but a good day for him, I think. He's going to be there on campus. It's like not like his presence is not going to be there.

    "As a coach, he was a perfectionist. He was stern. In a rundown, you'd better not throw it away. On the other end, he loved the game so much, if you cared about it as much as he did, you were going to be OK. There aren't many guys who prepared as much as he did. It was a family atmosphere; he was always committed to that.

    "I've gotten to know Pat Bailey pretty well. He is a great guy who communicates well and is good leader. All the other coaches will be there. Losing Coach Casey is going to be a big change for the program, but this is a guy who has been around and been a big part of what they're doing analytically. It will be a smooth transition."

    COLE GILLESPIE, outfield, 2004-06. Living in Scottsdale, Arizona, and finishing his degree in communications at OSU online. After 12 seasons in pro ball — including parts of six in the major league — still looking to play winter ball somewhere in 2019.

    "It's something he has been considering for a few years. Why not do it now and go out on top? Coach Casey was a no-nonsense coach. He expected a lot from his players. He was not just a coach to us, but a mentor. He helped bring that 'fight' mentality out of us, a never-quit attitude. It wasn't just baseball. It was life lessons that we learned along the way. It's something I'll always be grateful for.

    "I know Pat Bailey real well. I was gone by the time he got to Oregon State, but I grew up in West Linn with his son Alex and played on teams before high school. Pat was the coach at West Linn High at the time. I've known him since I was a little kid. He has accomplished quite a bit in his own coaching career. He brings a lot of experience to the team. I'm hoping for a smooth transition. I think Oregon State has a good one in Pat Bailey."

    KAVIN KEYES, infield, 2011-14. Helping his father run a baseball-hitting business in Salt Lake City after serving two seasons as an undergrad coach at Oregon State.

    "The news caught me off guard. I have to admit, it made me sick to my stomach. I loved seeing him as a head coach. I didn't want him to ever leave.

    "The thing that comes to mind about Coach Casey is his ability to motivate young men. When you're playing for him, you don't understand why this guy is being the way he is. I mean, he's tough, and at times, you think unreasonable. But as you go on, you learn to appreciate his ability to get you where you want to go and to get more out of you than you ever thought you would. He stuck with everyone. He's by far the best motivator I've been around. There is maybe one person I respect more in the world, and that would be my dad. Coach Casey is a true man, genuine about everything. He's a winner. I love him to death.

    "Coach Bailey is going to do an awesome job. He's a guy who works hard and knows a lot about the game. There is no replacement for Coach Casey. He's the man. But there is a good man taking over the helm. They share the same values. As far as the person goes, Coach Bailey is one of the best as well."

    TYLER GRAHAM outfield, 2003-06. Director of player development for Oregon State baseball

    "I know he has been dealing with the possibility (of retirement) for a long time. People don't realize the toll it takes on the mind and the body, being in charge of a program like that. There's nothing else he'd rather do than coach. There isn't another place he'd do it, either. He just felt it was time and that he has accomplished enough in his career and put this program in a place where it can succeed over the long haul. That was his goal. We're all greatly saddened with his departure, but we deeply appreciate everything he did for us, not only as players, but as young men as well.

    "Case made me the toughest player I could be. It was hard to go through, but he had a method to the madness. He's the best in college baseball at making you tough. That's why you've seen so much success under him.

    "I'm excited for Bailes. I'm excited for the rest of the staff. Case has trained all of us well. Everybody involved is very well-equipped to handle things without him. I know he'll be there in spirit, and he'll always be with us. It'll be a good transition. You can't replace a guy like Coach Casey, but Bailes is a tremendous guy to take over."

    JAKE THOMPSON, pitcher, 2014-17. Was 5-13 with a 5.30 ERA for the Salem (Massachusetts) Red Sox of the Single-A Advanced Carolina League.

    "I didn't think that would happen right before fall ball began. That surprised me. I hate to see him leave, but it's a decision we can all respect. It's sad, but he has been coaching for a long time. He ended up on top. Now that he's retired, he is always going to be a national champion. That's pretty cool.

    "When I think of Coach Casey, I think of the look he gives you when he wants you to know something. Then there is the message. His message goes for everything — life, work, sports. Just compete. Believe you can win, and go from there. He never lost faith in any of his players. He always pushed us to be our best. That sticks out at me. Whenever I questioned myself, he'd push me to the next level.

    "Coach Bailey and Coach Case are pretty much the same person, with similar ideas and strategies. I don't think there will be much change in the program at all."

    JOE PATERSON, pitcher, 2006-07. Selling insurance in McMinnville.

    "It's bittersweet. We loved having him as the coach there. We wish he'd be there forever. But it's time for his family to get to see him a little bit more. There have been a lot of stresses through 24 years at Oregon State.

    "The two years I was there were as memorable as you can get in baseball (two College World Series titles), with him leading the way. From every talk he gave us to individual talks I've had with him, he is everything the public sees — a caring man, a great coach, someone who all the players deeply love. It's going to be sad to not see him down there in the dugout.

    "I've known Coach Bailey for a long time. I started my college career at Linfield when he was at George Fox. Growing up in Oregon, the small-college coaches we all admired were Coach Casey and then Coach Bailey at George Fox) and coach (Scott) Carnahan at Linfield. Those guys were the big figures for me. You want Coach Case at Oregon State, but Coach Bailey is the next-best thing. They were smart to stay within the Oregon State family and run with it."

    KEVIN GUNDERSON, pitcher, 2004-06. Runs a pitching academy in Clackamas.

    "If anyone in the game deserves to step away on top, it's Coach Case. With the amount of time and energy he put into building that program, he deserves to step back and take some time away from the game.

    "He gave me a shot to play D-I baseball and believed in me when some others didn't. He's much more than a coach. He has a unique and innate way to build you up far bigger than the game. His impact on my three years at Oregon State set me up for what I'm doing now and in the future.

    "He had very high expectations for his players, but he didn't expect from his players what he didn't expect from himself. He held true to that every single day. Some people viewed it as being too tough, but he also had a really good way about motivating us. Sometimes that was getting a little bit intense, and other times it was sitting back and letting us do our thing. He always said what you do in practice means everything, and we took that to heart.

    "Pat Bailey is an excellent hire. Keeping people in-house is a key to that program if it is continue to thrive. They have phenomenal coaches right now to do that. They need to find a way to lock up the guys on their current staff long-term. Pat (Bailey) is more than deserving. He understands the tradition. he understands the culture. They'll miss Coach Case's presence, but that program won't skip a beat.

    ZACH RESER, pitcher, 2012-15. Works for a food brokerage company in Portland.

    "There are so many things I could say about Coach Casey and his accomplishments on and off the field. He has had an amazing career. The culture he brought in to the program is one of the reasons they've had so much success. Guys come into the program and buy into that. A word that sticks out is 'fearless.' His thing was to be fearless not just in baseball, but in anything you do in life. Test the boundaries. Go over the edge. You're going to fail, but you're going to learn from those failures. That will make you a better player, a better person, a better parent.

    "He expected you to repeat your performance at the highest level. It's a huge reason why so many great players come out of that program. He see the potential and expects you to bring it every day. You can't be perfect every day, but the pursuit of it leads to excellence. He brings each player to their full potential.

    "It's a great move to promote Pat Bailey. He has been a part of that culture, helping build right alongside Case. It's a great opportunity for him. He'll fill the shoes well for this year, and then we'll see where it goes, but it's a great step for the program."

    ANDREW SUSAC, catcher, 2010-11. Hit .256 with six home runs in 42 games for the Triple-A Norfolk Tides and .115 in nine games with the Baltimore Orioles this season.

    "I'm surprised he went through with it. He has been talking about retirement since I was there. At first, I was in shock. Then 'gratitude' came to mind — how grateful I am to have gotten to play for him. I love the guy.

    He has a father-like mentality to him. He can be very tough on you, and also show you he cares. You want to win for Case. He puts so much emphasis on winning that you actually start feeling like that, too. You think there's nothing more important in life than winning, whether in the weight room or on the ball field or in the classroom. That really helped me as a player in the pros. He gets you fired up. I loved playing for him. He weeds out the mentally weak and he finds a way to get a good group of guys together, to bond and play for each other.

    "I love it that they've hired Bailes. I'm happy for him and Nate Yeskie, too. If the job has to be thrown out to anyone, it should be to the guys under him. Bailes is a winner. Nate is one of the top pitching coaches in college baseball. It's sad for me that I have a cousin (pitcher Anthony Susac, a high school sophomore) and a brother (catcher/third baseman Daniel Susac) committed to Oregon State. I wanted them to play for Case. But they'll be in good hands with Bailes, too."

    ANDREW MOORE, pitcher, 2013-15. Is 6-7 with a 4.34 ERA for the Durham Bulls, who are in the International League playoffs.

    "Coach Casey has had a huge impact on my life, on and off the field. There is no doubt in my mind I would not be where I am today as a man or a baseball player if not for him. He is the quality of human being we all aspire to be. His love for his family, his players and his faith is incredibly inspiring.

    "I'm not sure what he will do with his life without coaching every day, but I know he will excel in whatever it is. He has set the tone for the Oregon State program that I know is in great hands with Pat Bailey, Nate Yeskie, Andy Jenkins and so many others. I'm happy Coach Casey was able to go out exactly how he should — a champion."

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