Local legend ‘Coach Cassutt’ diesWhether it was to the Big Leagues or Booster baseball, longtime Hudson educator and coach Florian “Cass” Cassutt gave it his all. Cassutt died March 2 at Hudson Hospital. He was 86.
By: Meg Heaton, Hudson Star-Observer
Whether it was to the Big Leagues or Booster baseball, longtime Hudson educator and coach Florian “Cass” Cassutt gave it his all.
Cassutt died March 2 at Hudson Hospital. He was 86.
Cassutt and his wife of 56 years, Joyce, moved to Hudson in 1959 when he accepted a teaching job at Hudson High School. During his 30-year career he taught American studies, psychology and economics where he used the newspaper and current events to connect those subjects to his students’ lives.
“He wanted students here to make a connection with the larger world around them. He wanted them to think about the war in Vietnam and the stock market. In his classroom, he tried to create something better than what he experienced as a student, get what he missed,” said son Michael Cassutt.
But it was as “Coach Cassutt” that he is best remembered. His love of sports, particularly baseball, began early and impressively.
According to Michael, Cassutt was signed not once but twice by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1948 and again in 1951 as a pitcher. But a back injury he sustained during a stint in the military made a longterm professional career impossible. He did continue to play in semi-professional ball in Minnesota and Iowa where Michael said he was a sort of “gun for hire,” earning top money, making him one of the highest paid players in the league.
During his career as the “little left-hander”, he faced baseball legends the likes of Stan Musial, Joe Garagiola and Eddie Dyer and threw four “no-hitters” before retiring as a player.
After coming to Hudson, Cassutt took charge of the fledging Booster Baseball program. At the time there were only three teams run by parents. It wasn’t long before the program expanded to eight Little League teams, eight Pee Wee teams, two juniors and a senior team. He managed the expansion by turning most of the coaching responsibility over to the players.
“He picked the kids to coach and they weren’t necessarily the best players. He had the older kids coaching the younger ones. He believed it was the natural evolution of sandlot to organized ball and believed it was what was best for players. His vision of what a youth sports program should be is still the best,” said Michael Cassutt.
In an interview with the Star-Observer in 1992, the coach said, “Sometimes it wasn’t the best players on a team who made the best coaches. Some kid might not be the best defenseman or hitter, but he’s got a lot of heart and really loved the game. He was mature and knew how things worked. They made the best coaches.”
As word of his passing spread, Cassutt’s family received phone calls, e-mails and letters from former Booster players who remembered their experiences in Booster ball fondly.
Cassutt retired from teaching in 1988, and he and Joyce, who was also in education, enjoyed a very happy retirement that for him included lots of golf, a sport he took up in his 40s that became the coach’s new favorite pastime, playing up to five times a week.
He and Joyce also travelled the United States and for a time spent the winter months in southern California near their sons, Michael and Mark, and their families. Michael still lives in California where he is a screenwriter and teacher at the University of Southern California. Mark now lives in the Twin Cities and works in public relations. Nancy Cassutt Ison also lives in the Twin Cities and is a senior vice president at Internet Broadcasting.
Cassutt’s funeral was Friday at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church where he was a member since moving to Hudson. A complete obituary can be found on page 4C in this week’s Star-Observer or by clicking on the attached link.