Tall, poised and a commander of the strike zone, Tony Kaseta blazed an ultra-successful career as a pitcher at Livonia Franklin High School and the University of Detroit during the late-1960s and early-70s.
On Saturday at his home in Atlanta, Kaseta passed away unexpectedly at the age of 62.
He is survived by his wife Kim; daughters Evin and Cristin; son A.J.; brothers Kevin and Mike; his mother, Wanda, who still resides in Livonia. He is also survived by by son-in-law Jeff Ernhart and his two grandchildren, Carson and Melanie.
Kevin Kaseta said his older brother’s cause of death was cardiac arrest.
“This came out of nowhere; we’re all still in shock,” said Kevin Kaseta. “Tony was a very easy-going, thoughtful, intelligent man. He was always willing to help anyone in need.”
Kaseta still holds the career-wins record at U of D, which had a very distinguished baseball program before it was shuttered in 2004.
For a time, Kevin Kaseta, noted, Tony Kaseta held the state of Michigan’s record for most collegiate wins by a pitcher.
Kaseta, who threw around 90 miles per hour with exquisite control of his pitches, had tryouts with the Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals.
He ultimately accepted a job as a buyer for J.L. Hudson before moving to Atlanta over 30 years ago. He was involved in the wholesale end of the men’s apparel industry at the time of his death, Kevin Kaseta said.
Former longtime U of D baseball coach Bob Miller has fond memories of Kaseta, who he referred to as “one of my all-time best players.”
“Tony had a great arm, he threw hard and he had a good breaking ball,” reflected Miller. “Why he never got drafted (by Major League Baseball) I’ll never understand.
“On Saturdays, we’d play double-headers sometimes against Division 2 or 3 teams like Hillsdale. When it was Tony’s turn to start, he’d throw the first game and we’d win 10-0 in five innings. I’d go up to him and say, ‘Tony, it looks like you haven’t even broken a sweat. Do you want to throw the second game, too?’ And he’d say, ‘Sure’. Then he’d go out and shut them out in the second game as well.”
During one game Miller remembers, Kaseta’s 6-foot-6 frame was a little too big for his uniform.
“He brought his leg up in his wind-up and his pants ripped,” Miller recounted, chuckling. “So he came into the dugout, I gave him my pants, he gave me his, and he went out and finished the game.
“He was a brilliant kid. A great person.”
Services for Tony Kaseta will be held at 10 a.m. Monday, Aug. 31 at Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church in Atlanta. Donations should also be made to Our Lady of Assumption.