It was a season that captivated all of Long Island a quarter century ago. The MacArthur High School baseball team put on a showcase of a campaign in 1994, going 29-0, outscoring foes 307-32 and capturing the state Class B championship. A dozen members of that Generals behemoth — still one of the Island’s greatest assemblies — were reunited to be feted Saturday at their alma mater and the memories came rushing back fast.
Vin Causeman, the state tournament MVP, recalled how MacArthur was nearly tarnished in its opener against Long Beach until Jimmy Kegel laid down a suicide squeeze to score Rob Bigan for a 1-0 win.
Jeff Tyler remembered how his co-ace Randy Leek got the final two outs with the bases loaded for a 5-4 win in the Nassau County clincher over Division; Causeman threw a runner out at the plate from shortstop and Leek struck out the last batter after falling back in the count, 3-and-0.
And Leek recounted how Tyler bested relentless Kings Park southpaw Chuck Alben in the Long Island title game and Jim Kennedy hit a home run in the first at-bat of the state semifinal in Utica.
“We’re all still close,” Leek said. “We’re still reliving a lot of it on [social media].”
Added Tyler: “One person posts something and then there are 150 responses. It’s a lot of fun.”
Becoming the first Long Island team to go unbeaten and win a state title was about as fun as it got for the ’94 MacArthur team. Its pitchers threw 16 shutouts. It batted .399 as a team. After capturing the Long Island championship, it traveled upstate and beat Tonawanda Kenmore East, 11-3, in the state semifinal behind Tyler’s 10-strikeout effort and then trounced Marlboro, 8-2, in the title game. Bigan pitched a one-hit complete game in the championship, with both Marlboro runs scoring on wild pitches, according to Newsday.
Causeman was named MVP after going 6-for-6 with two walks in the final two games, Generals coach Steve Costello, who also coached the ’94 team, said.
“To me, it was the greatest high school baseball team ever assembled,” Costello said.
In 1996, Division repeated the feat and Tyler said the players on both teams know each other well and continue to debate which club was better to this day. On other parts of the Island, the list of “best team” candidates is longer.
The reunion dovetailed nicely with MacArthur’s annual Autism Awareness contest against Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK, a game pioneered four years ago by Causeman and Hawks coach John Givargidze. It enhanced the crowd for the already-popular game. Both teams donned special uniforms purchased by Neil Creedon — who was on the ’94 Generals — and several autistic students threw ceremonial first pitches to rousing applause.
The MacArthur community and the Levittown school district have long championed autism awareness and promoted the high school’s applied behavioral analysis program that serves several dozen autistic students. The monthlong effort to raise awareness includes many events and this year included boys and girls lacrosse games in addition to the baseball.
“MacArthur is a place with open arms for everyone and this [event] is in line with that, helping people understand these kids who are our classmates,” Generals senior Joe Gagnon said. “We accept everyone despite their differences and we love having this game for them.”
Causeman and his wife, Dawne, have two children with autism — Ryan, 13 and Haley, 11 — and he has become a major advocate in the effort. “Vin was one of my assistant coaches but left the position because this cause was calling to him,” Costello said.
“[Causeman] was our MVP 25 years ago and he is the MVP of what you see here today,” Tyler said. “Since he took up the autism cause, we’ve been with him every step of the way.”
MacArthur also is marking this 25th anniversary all season by wearing special patches on the right side of their caps in homage to their unbeaten forebears.
Many of the ’94 Generals went on to play college baseball. Leek came closest to reaching the majors. After a career at William & Mary, he was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 1999 and reached the Triple-A level with the Tigers, Cardinals and Blue Jays. He played for the Long Island Ducks from 2007-10 and was 40-23 as a starter.
Tyler initially went to Lamar, but suffered a shoulder injury. He remade himself into a finesse pitcher after transferring to Adelphi and was the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Division II Pitcher of the Year for 1999.
Both said that though they experienced many highs on a baseball diamond, playing on MacArthur’s 1994 state champion team stands with all of them. Leek said “it’s a pinnacle to win a state championship.”
Added Tyler: “There are a lot of highs, but when you win a state championship the way we did? And you get to do it with all your closest friends? That’s something special.”