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St. Joe's Baseball Coach Heads Up Hamptons Collegiate Team

Randy Caden embarks on new chapter in coaching career on the diamond.

Many people in the Patchogue area know Randy Caden as the long-time baseball coach at St. Joseph's College. For the last two months, however, he's been busy with a new part-time job on the East End.

Caden was hired to be the field manager of the Riverhead Tomcats, who compete in the Hamptons Division of the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League. The Hamptons Division, in its second full season, played a 41-game regular-season schedule, which ended Saturday.

About 125 collegians, mostly freshmen and sophomores, came from 80 schools around the country to spend two months living with host families and competing in the Atlantic Collegiate summer league sanctioned by the NCAA and affiliated with Major League Baseball.

Caden's team, which competes against the North Fork Ospreys, Sag Harbor Whalers, Southampton Breakers and Westhampton Aviators, owns a 19-22 record. The third-place Tomcats will challenge the second-place Westhampton Aviators Monday at 5 p.m. in the single-elimination HCB semifinals at Hite Field in Westhampton.

Rusty Leaver, the president and founder of the Hamptons Division, hired Caden last winter to lead the Tomcats. Leaver, the owner of Deep Hollow Ranch in Montauk, wants to provide free family entertainment to the East End, build better baseball facilities for local towns and help prepare college players for the next level.

Why take on the extra challenge? Caden is honest in his desire to pad his résumé and move up the coaching ladder. He figures this could only help.

After playing high school and college ball, the 52-year-old Caden coached for 30 years. He attended Archbishop Molloy in Queens and later played at St. John's University before a shoulder injury ended his playing career. He started coaching as the captain of the B team for the Red Storm.

His baseball idols are two Hall of Famers -- Lou Gehrig and Tom Seaver.

"I played like Gehrig; never take me out and played hurt," said Caden. "I was also a pitcher. I liked Seaver because I was, and still am, a Mets' fan."

During the last ten seasons - in which he has won more than 210 games at St. Joseph's - he's directed seven playoff teams and been named the Skyline Conference Coach of the Year twice.

"I love the sport, all forms. I love the strategies," he said. "It is an addiction."

In addition to his college and summer teams, Caden also operates and is co-owner of the Long Island Mariners' Sports Academy in Bohemia. And during the school year, he teaches two sports marketing classes at Farmingdale State.

Coaching the inconsistent Tomcats, Caden has often been funny and sarcastic. He enjoys nourishing young talent, something that seeps through the pours of this league.

"When he talks baseball, you can tell he loves baseball," said Riverhead pitcher Cooper Smith. "And when you talk to him (one on one), it is comforting."

Center fielder Eric Romano said Caden has helped the Tomcats gain knowledge and maturity.

"He has been laid back, but sends us out there every day. He's not yelling, but he expects us to get the job done," said Romano.

On the field, Caden wants to see a dedicated, alert effort.

"He is really aggressive," said outfielder Nathan Pittman. "He talks about the green light (to steal bases) for everyone; anything we can do to put pressure on the other team and get in scoring position."

"He preaches a lot about hustle . . . He doesn't have favorites. He works with everybody," Pittman said.

Pro scouts may show up at any game to evaluate the HCB players. At least once a week, Caden reminds the Tomcats: "You never know who is watching."

"Your (college) coaches are going to call me and ask 'How is he doing?'" he said.

Caden is quick to mention a pet peeve.

"I am annoyed by a lack of hustle from talented people," he said. "Everything I have ever gotten in sports I had to work hard for. It never came easy. I had to do it myself."

For his future, Caden plans to keep coaching for many more years.

"I want to end my life with some sort of baseball," he said. "I think I easily have 20 more years coaching."

Two players for the 2010 St. Joe's team are playing for the Southampton Breakers this summer – outfielder Prateek Thaman of Hauppauge and pitcher Jason Dierkes of Mount Sinai. Both young men earned first-team recognitions for 2010 All-Skyline Conference.

On Friday night, Thaman smacked the game-winning hit to give the Breakers a 2-1 home victory over the Tomcats.

"If anybody is going to beat us, I'd like it to be him," Caden said.

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