Watching his pupils play is part of Coach Caswell’s cancer treatment
He sits comfortably in a lawn chair, intently watching.
Players come up to him to say hi. Coaches come up to him for quick chats in between innings.
The sight of Bob Caswell, longtime area baseball instructor, coach and guru at a local high school, American Legion, Babe Ruth or AAU game isn’t that unusual.
This, after all, is his time of year.
Caswell coached 12 years at Mascenic Regional High School in New Ipswich, eight years as assistant at Merrimack High School and couple of years at Southern New Hampshire University. He was also the Nashua Pride hitting coach for a couple of years under Butch Hobson.
There isn’t an experienced local baseball guy around who doesn’t know him or of him, and he’s logged a lot of innings watching his pupils play.
But right now, those innings are as precious and important as ever to Caswell and those who know him. He’s currently fighting stage four lung cancer, said to be terminal, so every moment near a baseball diamond is special.
Last June he closed down
his Power Series Sports baseball
school in Milford,
because he couldn’t keep it going any more with his illness. His number at Mascenic has since been retired. Last spring, Wilton-Lyndeborough High School dedicated a field in his name.
And now, a year later, Caswell pays tribute to his players in his way.
“Now I like going out to see the kids. They like me coming to watch the games,” Caswell said. “The relationship is vital for me right now. They mean a lot to me. They know what’s going on, and they give me that respect back.”
It’s been a tough year for
one of the area’s best – and perhaps most often overlooked – baseball coaches.
Caswell went for a routine physical for his commercial driver’s license, and the cancer was found right away.
He was stunned. He has never been a smoker, and has always been the picture of health, in great shape. He explained what he was told was this was a very rare form of cancer.
“I felt healthy at the time,” he said of the day he received the diagnosis.
But since then, that healthy feeling has all changed. The
combination of the cancer and the treatment to fight it has left him feeling anything but.
He’s had chemotherapy
treatment for over a year at
Massachusetts General Hospital.
“That stuff is nasty,” Caswell said, “but they’ve been great down there.”
Saturday wasn’t a good day for Caswell, as many of his pupils fell by the wayside in the high school tournaments. But there’s plenty of baseball left for the summer, that’s for sure.
“My kids love Bobby Caswell,” Souhegan coach Bill Dod said. “They’ve been going to his school for years, since they were 6 and 7 years old.”
Dod sat with Caswell a year ago, and both men didn’t think at this time he’d still be alive. Caswell had a list of what he wanted to do,
“He’s worked real hard,” Dod said. “He’s a fighter.
“He coached as fiery as he’s fighting this.”
Does Caswell have the fight? Of course.
A lot of Caswell’s former players have come to see him. They know the serious nature of the situation.
“It’s really shown me the love,” he said. “I love this game. My mind still can do it, my body is breaking down. When your mind thinks you can still do it, but you’re body just can’t.”
So Caswell says he has to just take it easy, continue with the treatments, “and deal with it.”
Baseball is his way of doing just that.
Fight on, Bob Caswell, fight on.
Tom King can be reached at 594-6468, firstname.lastname@example.org., or @Telegraph_TomK.