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Profiles in Giving

Arnold Castagner, A50

The Inspiration

For the Tufts baseball team, 1950 was a storybook season. The Jumbos (16-4) went all the way to the NCAA College World Series, the only Tufts nine ever to do so. “We won really close games against good competitors,” recalls Arnold Castagner, A50, of Tunbridge, Vt., a utility infielder on that team. “BC and BU were our big rivals, and we beat Holy Cross, which was a powerhouse back then. In the College World Series, Gene Conley, who went on to play for both the Red Sox and the Celtics, pitched against us for Washington State.” While Tufts’ national championship hopes were ended by Texas, the Jumbos’ season was one for the ages. “We hung together and won the big games,” says Castagner. “It sort of seemed like we were in the big time.” Castagner appeared mostly as a pinch-runner or pinch-hitter. “The highlight of my season was getting up to hit in the World Series in Omaha,” he said. “I went up to pinch hit and was really loose. I loved to hit fastball pitching. I hit the ball right on the nose, but right at the centerfielder.”

Castagner cites the influence of a “great history professor” at Tufts, Ruhl Bartlett, on his choice of career as a teacher and coach at Vermont Academy in Saxtons River, Vt. “I coached baseball, basketball, and JV football, and I taught everything,” he says. “I was a jack of all trades.” Castagner also coached future Red Sox Hall-of-Famer Carlton Fisk on the American Legion baseball team in Bellows Falls, Vt.

The Gift

“I remember Tufts fondly, and hope it continues to do well in all areas,” says Castagner, who has given generously to the university, contributing to the construction of the field house named for his “great friend” the late John Baronian, A50, H97, and providing for Tufts in his estate plan. Two other gifts he has made to the Tufts baseball team are unique. One is a baseball signed by the members of the 1950 College World Series squad. The other is a bat used by Babe Ruth when he played for the Boston Braves in 1935. Castagner acquired the Ruth bat on a 1950 visit to Braves Field with the Tufts ball team. The Braves invited each of the Tufts players to pick a bat to keep. “I picked that one,” he said. “It turned out to be one of Babe Ruth’s bats. I used it until it cracked; then I taped it and continued using it.” Today a Babe Ruth bat would sell at auction for thousands of dollars, he acknowledges. “Tufts is more important than money,” he says.

The Impact

A planned gift like that included in Mr. Castagner’s will leaves a lasting personal legacy of support for scholarship, teaching, and research. He has designated that his bequest support athletic programs at Tufts. Meantime, he and his fellow teammates from 60 years ago—who were honored before a Red Sox game at Fenway Park this past spring—provide a living legacy to the Tufts ballplayers of today. “Before they went to Fenway they had a chance to meet the current team and it was the best time of the night,” says John Casey, A80, AG83, baseball head-coach. “We’re all part of the same tradition. As we tell the players every year, leave the place better than when you came. Those guys from 1950 set a high bar.”