Prep’s Caddle excels in his true love, namely baseball

Chalk this one up as a “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” moment.
St. Peter’s Prep standout football player Corey Caddle, headed to Fordham University on a grid scholarship, only became a football player at the urging of one of the most famed baseball legends in Hudson County history.
The late Ed “Faa” Ford, who ran the Jersey City Diamond Dawgs youth baseball program that Caddle played for when he was in eighth grade, actually told Caddle that he should try to play football.
“I played baseball my entire life,” Caddle said. “It was all baseball, baseball, baseball, 24/7 every day. Mr. Ford told me that I needed something else in my life and that I should try to play football. So I did.”
With Ford’s encouragement, Caddle joined the Jersey City Recreation Jets program.
“I loved it,” Caddle said of football. “I’m a competitor, so I liked competing. I was a competitor in baseball and he saw that it could translate onto the football field.”
Imagine that. Without the nudge of perhaps the most knowledgeable baseball man in the area, a superstar football career might not have ever taken place.
Caddle went on to have a brilliant football career at St. Peter’s Prep, capped by scoring two touchdowns in the Marauders’ 34-18 win over Paramus Catholic to capture the NJSIAA Non-Public Group 4 state championship and the No. 1 ranking in the entire state of New Jersey. Caddle caught a touchdown pass and ran for another in the huge win in MetLife Stadium last December.
Although football is where he will gain entrance into college on a free ride, Caddle makes no bones about what sport is his true love.
“It’s always been baseball,” said Caddle, who plans on trying to play both sports at Fordham. “Right now, I have to think like every game might be my last baseball game, so I take that attitude onto the field. But baseball is the first sport where I succeeded.”
Caddle has been a member of the Marauder varsity program since he was a sophomore. It didn’t take long for head coach Pat Laguerre to realize Caddle’s baseball prowess.
“He’s just a phenomenal athlete,” Laguerre said. “He’s a multi-talented, versatile kid. He was one of only four kids to handle the responsibility of playing varsity as a sophomore. I felt he had to play because of what he brought to the table in terms of his speed, his defense, his ability to get on base.”
Laguerre also noticed that Caddle wasn’t like most kids.
“His work ethic is tremendous,” Laguerre said. “Some other kids would let their talent carry them first, but he is constantly working at trying to get better. He’s heard too many times that he’s too small, so that drives him. He’s probably the best competitor I’ve ever coached. He’s just really special.”
Laguerre has watched Caddle blossom as a hitter, as an outfielder and as a pitcher, where he won six games as a junior.
“Last year, we were asking him to pitch every four days and his offense struggled at times,” Laguerre said. “But he had the biggest hits last year. He has a flair for the dramatic.”
“I couldn’t get a hold of myself last year,” Caddle said. “I was trying different things, different stances. I was trying to force the issue and it wasn’t working out for me. So I devoted my offseason to trying to hit the ball better. That was my main goal.”
Caddle’s dedication to improvement has paid gigantic dividends for the Marauders, who are now 11-1 and are ranked No. 7 in the entire state.
“He’s just a very good baseball player,” Laguerre said. “He’s elevated his game to another level. He’s put it all together. With the confidence he now has, he’s become the impact player we all knew he would become. He’s a special talent. He really is. Corey is fun to watch. I love watching him play. I’m excited for him in what he’s doing.”
Caddle realizes the improvement.
“I would say that I’m seeing the ball better,” Caddle said. “I’m more patient and not swinging at bad pitches. I’m putting the ball in play more. I’m stronger and I’m putting the ball in play. When I hit it, I’m hitting it hard. I feel like my mind is clearer and I’m more confident.”
Caddle showed that confidence in the past week, especially in some big games against some ranked opponents.
Caddle went 3-for-4 with three RBI in an 11-4 win over No. 11 Millburn Saturday, then had two hits, including a long homer to the opposite field, in the Marauders’ shocking 20-1 dismantling of No. 8-ranked St. Joseph of Montvale in the Weehawken Autism Awareness Challenge Sunday night.
Caddle ended his week by going 2-for-2 with both hits being triples, with two walks and three runs scored in the Marauders’ 11-1 win over Hoboken Monday night.
For his efforts, Caddle has been selected as The Hudson Reporter Athlete of the Week for the past week and the first recipient of the 2015 spring scholastic sports season.
Caddle, who is hitting a robust .538 thus far, isn’t shocked with his offensive explosion.
“I can’t say surprised,” Caddle said. “I just feel like I was motivated by my season last year. I’ve also been motivated by the lack of respect we’ve received around the state, like Prep has a lot to prove. I want to be able to make a solid statement.”
Laguerre likes everything about Caddle.
“He handles his issues well,” Laguerre said. “He’s really a unique kid, a smart kid. He knows he has talent and he’s run with it. He’s committed, talented and likeable. He’s one of the nicest kids I’ve ever coached. He’s a great role model for kids who come from Jersey City and want to succeed. He’s taken advantage of his opportunities.”
Caddle is still working hard. He’s not pleased with the way he has pitched this year, including a sub-par performance last week against Kearny.
“But my teammates backed me up and we were able to win the game,” Caddle said. “It’s been tough, but as long as I have my teammates behind me. I love my team and I would do anything for them.
Added Caddle, “This is my final ride in high school, believe it or not. I hope I find my real rhythm soon. Once I do, then there’s no turning back.”
And as for the man who left us all too soon almost four years ago to the date?
“Mr. Ford is the reason why I changed my entire game around,” Caddle said. “He told me to have confidence in myself. He taught me to be nasty on the field and leave the field as a gentleman. Sometimes, it’s hard to grasp that he’s gone.”
Caddle realizes that he now holds a special place in the eyes of kids from his native Jersey City, as a smaller-than-average kid from the inner-city who got a chance to excel on the highest level, winning a state championship in football and who knows what in baseball.
“I think once it’s all over, I’ll feel those emotions,” Caddle said. “I’ve been blessed. I have an amazing family that has supported me. If kids look up to me, that’s a great feeling. I don’t know if I deserve it, but it’s a great feeling.” – Jim Hague

Jim Hague can be reached at

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