The longtime coach resigns after 22 seasons

by: PHOTO BY JOHN DENNY - Casey Webster is stepping down as head baseball coach at Gladstone High School after 22 years at the helm. HeÄôll continue to teach math classes at the school.Longtime Gladstone High School baseball coach Casey Webster, who has had baseball a part of his life since he was a toddler, has decided to take a break from the sport, at least for the 2012-13 school year.

Casey Webster, 48, was the youngest in a family of five boys who grew up playing baseball in Gladstone. At one time all five brothers - Craig, Cris, Cary, Clark and Casey - were playing Junior Baseball at some level at the same time. Craig, who is nine years older than Casey, is the oldest of the five.

Craig, Cary and Clark remain involved in baseball today. Craig is head coach at Sam Barlow High School, Cary is an umpire in the Salem Umpires Association, Clark has assisted Casey in coaching at Gladstone for the past 10 years.

"All along I've planned to go out with my son (Trace Webster), who just graduated," Casey says. "Right now, I'm done coaching. In a couple of years away I might be re-energized and decide to come back.....

"I think I might like to try the 6A level and see how I do. Who knows?"

Casey grew up in Gladstone and he has spent most of his life in the Gladstone community. A three-sport athlete, he graduated from Gladstone High School in 1981. He played on a football team that advanced to the semifinals (1979) and on a baseball team that made the quarterfinals (1981). He was a first-team all-state first baseman his senior year and he played in the 1981 senior allstar series.

He played four years of college baseball at Western Oregon University and was named conference "Player of the Year" in 1984.

Drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 13th round, Casey played professional baseball with the Indians, and later with the Milwaukee Brewers.

He left professional baseball and returned to Gladstone to teach and coach because, he says, "injuries took a toll."

"I've had six surgeries because of the wear and tear on my body.... both hips, right knee, right shoulder, left heel," Webster says.

Casey Webster has been at Gladstone High School as a teacher and coach since the 1990-91 school year.

Webster says of his newfound spare time, "I'll spend more time with my wife (Janet). She's been a great partner. She's always been supportive of me and everything I've done. I'll spend a lot of time with my daughter, watching her in soccer and in track, I'll follow my son at the University of Portland, and I'll do a little bit of golfing."

Casey Webster's teams at Gladstone have been quite successful. His Gladstone teams advanced to postseason play nearly every year.

He took a team to the state final for the first time in school history in 2004 (8-3 loss to Henley), and he had teams advance to the quarterfinals in 1999, 2003 and 2009. Webster had five teams win league titles (1998, 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2009).

"My best team in terms of talent was probably my 1999 team," Webster said. "We were 4A, with the Three Rivers League. They were really talented, hard nosed players. They were tough kids, and they kept me on my toes. But when it came time to play baseball, they played hard, and they were good."

The 1999 team lost to Redmond 12-2 in the big-school quarterfinals. Some of the players Webster remembers from that team were: Russ Locke (first base), Mike Armstrong (pitcher), John Ekerson (pitcher), Jason Wells (infield/pitcher) and Jason Pohl (catcher).

Webster had only five losing seasons in 22 years at Gladstone, and three of those came during the four seasons (1999-2002) when Gladstone competed in the big-school classification. Webster's Gladiators have gone 174-90 over their last 10 seasons, winning 66 percent of their games.

"I've always tried to play a tough preseason schedule," he says. "Because I think it makes you better."

Webster said this year's team was special, because his son and seven of his son's classmates were seniors on the team.

"This team has a special place in my heart," Webster said. "I spent a lot of summers with them. It's very rare that you get a group of eight seniors where everyone likes each other, and they all contribute."

Trace Webster distinguished himself as one of the top students in his senior class, excelling in the classroom, as well as on the athletic field. He was school valedictorian, president of the National Honor Society and President of Gladstone High's Green School's Club. He received an Air Force ROTC and the presidential scholarship to attend the University of Portland.

Trace Webster was a first-team all-conference selection at shortstop, and he followed in his father's footsteps, playing in the 2012 Oregon 4A Baseball All-Star Series at Legion Field in Roseburg.

"It was a lot of fun [watching Trace play in the 2012 Series]," Casey Webster said. "It's the same field I played on. He had a couple of hits and he scored a couple of runs. He played well....

"I was a player [in the All-Star Series], I coached it for two years (2003 and 2004), and I was a father with my son playing in it. It was pretty cool."

There have been many improvements to Gladstone High School baseball facilities since Casey Webster took over the program: new dugouts and concession stands, an announcer's booth, indoor batting cages, a home run fence, a scoreboard, lights, drainage improvements, and the purchase of a field tarp.

"We've had great parental support over the years," Webster said. "None of it could have happened without the support of parents and the community.... The only thing that I wish we'd done differently is I wish we'd had artificial turf in the bond. Every high school in Oregon should have artificial turf."

Webster said, "One of the things that I'm most proud of, is when people play Gladstone, they know that they better be ready to go. Gladstone has a reputation of always being competitive in baseball....

"But more than the wins and losses, I'm proud of the relationships I've established over the years....

"I've tried to run a program that's had structure and discipline, and I'm pretty proud of that. I've held kids accountable."

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