* Originally appeared in News-Press
Fort Myers, Florida. – FGCU baseball coaches Dave Tollett And he made a Rusty Maki Casey Coleman An offer he hoped to hear.
Maybe he even needs to be heard.
The show led the former Cape Coral Mariner High star to become a two-way star for the Eagles, a major league player and now, FGCU Hall of Famer.
He was inducted into the school’s second-ever Friday Hall of Fame alongside former teammate Richard Blair, softball teammates Carmen Baez Jimenez and Cheyenne Jenks (also a standout volleyball player) and golfer Derek LaMelle.
Casey He made baseball history and joined his father Joe and grandfather Joe in becoming the first family of three generations to make the major leagues as pitchers (one of four families overall with the Boones, Bells, and Hairstons).
His professional pitching career—which saw him throw nearly 1,300 innings and record an 81-68 record with 40 saves over 15 years—has led him to Single-A, Double-A, and Triple-A teams across the country as well as Mexico. He went 8-13 in his four-year basketball career with the Chicago Cubs and Kansas City Royals.
In his latest endeavor, the 6-foot-1, 185-pounder will attend spring training for the Leones de Yucatán of the Mexican League. He is coming out of surgery to repair a dislocated shoulder.
“My son Caleb is 6 and it’s so fun to be with him and see his love of baseball,” Casey He said. “He’s so good. He always asks me, ‘When are you going to play again?'” So he’s a real inspiration.
“Before my shoulder was out of place, I had thrown 94 (mph) on the field before. The surgery went well, as clean as it can be for a 35-year-old with hundreds of innings thrown.”
ColemanA father — who went 142-135 over 15 major league seasons and was an All-Star — supports his son’s resilience.
“His arm age is much less than his physical age,” he said. “People who have fixed shoulders can make it into their 40s. He’s also very determined and hard-working. Who knows? That’s something he wants to pursue, so don’t let any effort go unturned.”
with Joe Coleman Working as a pitching coach after his career, Donna took coaching to the letter Casey. From his inception at the age of 4 till 16, she coached him in youth football and travelling.
“I was a coach and I played sports,” she said. “I can file a complaint or participate; and Casey He was able to handle his mother as a coach.
Besides pitching him daily in the batting cage in the family’s backyard, Donna Coleman He said, “I spent hours and hours and hours beating fungus and abusing him.”
And when Casey I went to college…let Tollett pick it up from here.
“I’m in the office on Christmas break and I saw Casey Throw in the bulls. He went down there and who will follow him? Without a. She’s clutching at full power as she hurls 94 miles per hour. They do not hunt as if they were catching flies. An 81-mph slider, plunger, plunger, and it’s tough for anyone. She is holding the ball. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.”
Because of the work in which she saw her son – and because CaseyTalent – Donna was adamant that he get a chance to play the field.
LSU, Clemson, and Baylor have shown interest.
Georgia Tech made him an amazing offer. Florida Atlantic wanted him as a pitcher.
when Coleman With his visit to FGCU, Tollett and McKee made a show that went beyond going on the mound or ballpark.
“They told me they wanted me to help build this program,” Casey He said. They also said: We want you to come and be a baseball player.
That’s all he needs to hear. His goal was not to be an ACC player, but rather to be a professional baseball player. And FGCU offered him the best opportunity to carry on the family legacy.
“I said, ‘CaseyCome here and you’ll do both at once, said Tollet. “You’re the kid in the zone. You’re going to play – and you’re ready to play now.”
“Now I said, you may not be a Friday (starter) or a Saturday, I don’t want to ruin your arm, but you’ll be a Sunday starter or a midweek starter. That way, you’ll play all four games.”
It also helped, Tollett said, that Josh Upchurch – CaseyMariner’s teammate – also FGCU committed.
what Casey And his mom appreciated Hu that when the FGCU coaches told him he was going to play and play on the field, they supported him.
During his three seasons with the Eagles, Casey He went 16-6 by throwing with 171 strikeouts. He often played against the ranked teams in those midweek games.
Splitting time at second base, shortstop and third base, he batted . 318 with 98 runs scored. 156, 26 doubles, eight home runs and 97 RBI. Despite only playing for three seasons, Coleman He still ranks fourth in school history in triples (nine), ninth in saves (six) and 10y in wins (16).
At three FGCU teams in Division II postseason victories, Casey He had a win and a save while going 4-for-12 with four runs scored and three RBI.
The Eagles went 119-49 in the three seasons he played.
After the Atlanta Braves approached him about possibly drafting him — “They asked me if I was going to sign for $100,000 or an x amount and I said yes” — the Cubs contacted him on the 14th.y round and picked him up on the 15thy.
Casey He considered holding onto more money but his father, “put me in my shoes and gave me the best advice I ever had,” he said.
“You’re a 6-foot-tall, right-handed pitcher,” my dad said, he recalled. “I have guys on my team going the distance. Take what they give, be grateful, and show them who you are.”
Atmosphere Coleman He added, “I knew if he didn’t take a chance, he was going to regret it. If you haggle over two thousand dollars and don’t play because of a little money, you’re going to really regret the rest of your life.”
Casey He quickly progressed through the Cubs system, and was named the league’s Pitcher of the Year on the team in 2009.
When he joined the Cubs on August 2, 2010, he joined his father and grandfather as the first of three generations of pitchers in major league history when he entered the game in the sixth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers. The first pitch he threw was sent to the Hall of Fame.
“There was a lot of tension, honestly,” he said. “So many feelings. I’ve had friends and family there and everyone wants to see me and I still have a job. I’ve been interviewed by the media. How I deal with excitement and nerves and everyone who supports you. So many things come into play.”
“That night I was crushed but then I settled down, gained more confidence and did well my rookie year.”
After battles through injuries, Casey He wants to give him another chance. In the meantime, he will be working on completing his undergraduate studies at FGCU in Integrated Studies.
He, Caleb, and his mom will come to the Hall of Fame banquet from their homes in Tennessee.
“It would be nice to be back,” Donna Coleman He said. “It was the best decision to play there. He was happy there. It worked out really well.”
Coleman’s three best FGM moments
1. Winning the 2008 ASUN Baseball Championship in the school’s first year in conference: “I could feel the joy with our coaches, everything they worked for, and building a program. And to be a part of that first year in the division was something special. We couldn’t play into the conference playoffs or the NCAA tournament so we’ve done everything we can.”
2. Allowing one run on eight hits in eight innings and hitting a triple double in a 6-4 win over #25 Central Florida on April 2, 2008: “I had a lot of friends out there and UCF overlooked me. It was also a big win for Toe (Dave Tollett). That was my best collegiate outing against a good in-state program. They thought they were better than us. It was a win over an in-state competitor that had more students than we did.”
3. Hit three RBI, then scored on a wild throw as Division II FGCU rallied to beat Notre Dame 5-3 in 2007 before 2,062 fans at Swanson Stadium on March 16, 2008: “I sprained my ankle the week before and ran Round the bases on the ankle. I hit a line drive in the gap to the opposite field and the left fielder couldn’t get it. We sold a lot of tickets, thousands of people were there.