By Larry Bush
Published April 8, 2021 in The Burg
Casey Piggee ripped a ball into the right center field gap at Wrigley Field. He was there
representing Carl Sandburg College in 1983, having made the Arrowhead All-Conference
As he rounded second, he replied on the advice from his coach, Jimmy Isaacson: If the ball’s in front of you and you think you can make it, take the extra base.
So he did, running through the ‘stop sign’ put up by his all-star coach at third base.
“Man, I’m a kid from Galesburg, in Wrigley Field and I just hit one in the gap. I saw it bounce off the ivy and there was no way I was stopping,” laughed Piggee in a phone interview from his home in Tulsa, OK. “I was safe and the coach asked me if I saw the sign. I said ‘yes’ and then we both laughed.”
Piggee was a star athlete from the first time he put on a Cardinals uniform in Little League.
His high school career included being named All-State in baseball and honorable mention All-State in basketball. He was also All-Western Big 6 in baseball his junior and senior seasons and All-Western Region.
His statistics validated his talent.
In his only year at Southeastern Illinois College (Harrisburg, IL) he hit .484, making his the
seventh best hitter in the nation. Transferring to Sandburg, he was all conference, hitting “.470-something.” He then played two years at Northeastern State in Tehlequah, OK, where he led the team in several areas. There was also an invitation-only tryout with the St. Louis Cardinals, but
Casey made other plans.
At Northeastern, in 1987 he earned his BA in Health and Physical Education and then his Master’s in College teaching the following year. Since then, he’s been a teacher in Tulsa, OK, currently teaching physical education at Mitchell Elementary School.
Growing up in Galesburg still means a lot to him and he certainly has lots of memories to fall back on.
“I think it was one of the best times to grow up,” said Piggee. “I’m a small town kind of person.
Back then, all the kids got along – black, white. - it didn’t matter. Everybody was working for the same thing – family and each other.”
Playing Babe Ruth Baseball, Piggee was on a Tom’s Candies team that went 39-0 over two seasons, eventually losing 2-1 to the Police team. “Those were the days,” said Piggee. “We had a great team and everyone was pulling for each other. We felt like there was no way we were going to lose.”
(Casey and I were teammates on the first undefeated Tom’s Candies team, with me hitting
behind him. He was the reason I had any RBI at all because it seemed he was always on base.)
He gives much credit to his dad and mom - Claude “Big Daddy” Piggee and Louise – for helping shape his outlook on sports and especially being a teammate.
“My dad taught me to not worry about statistics, that at the end of the year you could take a look,” said Casey. “I just knew I couldn’t stand to lose. I played against plenty of my friends, but when we were playing? The only friends I had were on my team.”
From the time he played basketball in the basement of the old downtown YMCA for Clinton Hayne, Casey was focused on being part of a team. “He had us doing drills they were doing at the high school level,” said Casey. “Dribble left hand, pick and rolls and had us so disciplined.”
Then it was on to Churchill Junior High where he, like many Blue Devil athletes, credits Bill and Bob Morgan for showing the ‘right’ way to do things – in sports and life. “No one will ever get any better than Bill and Bob Morgan,” said Casey. “They drilled and drilled till we got it right.
And for me, man, we had home and away Chuck Taylor shoes. I would have done anything they asked just because of the shoes!”
He also gives credit to Coach Isaacson for coaching him all along the way. “What I learned from Coach I has stayed with me my entire career. He got the most out of every single player.”
Casey and his wife, Rikki, enjoy their time in Tulsa and make the drive to Galesburg on occasion. Casey doesn't like to fly. “On my last flight, it was a rough one and I made a deal with God. ‘Let me land and I won’t fly again.’ I’m just keeping up my part of the deal, he laughs.
As he talks, he drops in the names of his teammates, most of whom he talks with regularly, giving a quick update on where they are and how they’re doing: Kevin Johnson, Andy Holt, Steve Schwab and Phil Goodman. Then he mentions others like Clay Britton, Tommy Brown, Curt Cunningham, Kurt Bell and Scott Shaver.
Casey Piggee, always a good teammate.