For more than half a century, Jack Casey labored to keep Boston College sports teams playing on pristine fields and in attractive and efficient on-campus venues.

Casey, who began working for the University in 1966, retired this year as a lead athletics maintenance staff member. During his 52 years on the job, Casey spent countless hours cutting grass on BC's baseball, softball and soccer fields, making thousands of sheets of ice on McHugh Forum and Kelley Rink, and helping to install and remove the Conte Forum basketball court for every home game.

He also made a lot of friends along the way.

"Boston College has been like a second home for me," says Casey, who officially retired on Feb. 28. "I got to know some great people. I don' t know if there is anybody that I don't like at BC."

The work was hard and the hours were often long, but Casey delighted in the Eagles' success on the fields, courts and rinks that he had helped to prepare. "You were a part of the 'team,'" he explains. "When everything came out right and maybe we would win one of the big games, the grounds crew was a part of it, too."

"Jack Casey has done just about everything for us," notes Athletic Facilities supervisor Norman Reid. "Right up to the day he retired at age 72, he was out there putting down the basketball floor.

"He was always one of those guys who would do anything you might ask," Reid adds. "He'd just say 'Yup' and it would be done. You could always count on Jack."

Casey, who grew up in Allston near Harvard Stadium, completed an active duty stint with the Massachusetts National Guard in 1966 and began looking for work. He took his brother Kenny's advice to seek a night custodial position at Boston College. "I went over and applied and they said, "Do you want to start tonight?" he recalls. As part of his duties, he was assigned to clean the old Alumni Stadium press boxes after home games, and his industrious work ethic caught the eye of the late Andy Beatson, BC's director of athletic facilities at the time.

"He told me, 'Kid, you're a helluva worker. Do you want to work for me?' That was it." Casey joined the athletics ground crew in 1971.

Casey says he holds fond memories of many sports events on campus, but has a particular recollection of BC's thrilling 14-13 victory over highly ranked Texas at Alumni Stadium in 1976. "After the game Texas coach Darrell Royal asked the guys on the grounds crew if one of us could drive his wife and him to the airport in his rental car. He gave us a hundred-dollar tip and said we didn't have to turn the car in until the next day.

"That was a great night," he says, with a laugh.

Casey also recalls campus events including a circus, rock music shows and even Boston Pops concerts, with the late maestro Arthur Fiedler. "When the Shrine Circus performed in the old McHugh Forum one time, they had trapezes hanging from the ceiling and animals in cages out in back. The Pops used to play on campus in June when it was really hot, and we had a guy just passing towels to Fiedler as he conducted."

"Jack is such an honest guy," Reid says. "He would find wallets or cash when he was cleaning after games but he always turned everything in so we could find the owner."

Casey never forgot his roots and was known to admit more than a few kids from local neighborhoods who could not afford the price of admission to a Boston College game.

Reid relates the story of a well-to-do alumnus who brought his family to Conte Forum, telling his guests, "Forty years ago, I got my introduction to BC from a guy who used to let me in the back door to see the games."

Reid says, "Well, 'That guy' is standing right over there. His name is Jack Casey."

Reid Oslin | Special to the Boston College Chronicle