Richie Sexson is without a doubt one of the most successful first basemen to play in Major League baseball over the last 30 years.
Born in Portland Oregon in 1974, Richie excelled at every sport he played before choosing to focus on baseball and he ultimately set school records for the most home runs and RBI’s in a career.
After graduating from high school, Sexson was drafted by the Indians in 1993 and saw his first big league action in 1997 when he played in his first 5 games with the Indians.
His break out career came in 1999 when he had 31 home runs and 116 RBI’s.
In 2000, Sexson was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers with a player to be named later, for Bob Wickman, Steve Woodard, and Jason Bere. In 2001, his 45 home runs tied the Brewers record set by Gorman Thomas in 1979. His 178 strikeouts also broke the Brewers record, but this was surpassed the following season by José Hernández. In 2002, Sexson represented the Milwaukee Brewers in the MLB All-Star Game which was played in Milwaukee. In 2003, he played in all 162 games and again tied the Brewers record of 45 home runs while hitting .272 and earning a selection to the 2003 MLB All-Star Game. Prince Fielder broke Sexson’s and Thomas’s team record in 2007, hitting 50 home runs.
Sexson was the first of three players in Brewers history to have 100 or more RBIs in three consecutive seasons along with Fielder in 2007–2009 and Ryan Braun in 2008–10.
Sexson was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in December 2003 along with pitcher Shane Nance and a player to be named later (Noochie Varner) for infieldersJunior Spivey, Craig Counsell, Lyle Overbay, catcherChad Moeller, and pitchersChris Capuano and Jorge de la Rosa. This trade proved to be disastrous for the Diamondbacks, as Sexson missed most of the 2004 season after twice suffering a reverse subluxation of his left shoulder while attempting to check his swing.
Prior to the 2005 season, Sexson signed a four-year contract with the Seattle Mariners worth $50 million. Sexson played well in the 2005 season, hitting 39 home runs and 121 RBI. However, Sexson struggled mightily in the 2007 season, batting .205 with 21 home runs and 63 RBIs, and again in the 2008 season, hitting just .218 with 11 home runs and 30 RBIs for Seattle.
On May 8, 2008, in a game against the Texas Rangers, Sexson charged the mound towards Rangers starting pitcherKason Gabbard and threw his batting helmet at him after Gabbard threw a head-high pitch over the middle of the plate, to which Sexson reacted as if it had hit him. Sexson later stated he was frustrated and had a lot going on in his head, including his son being in the hospital and his club’s recent struggles. He was suspended six games for the incident. He later appealed the suspension, and it was dropped to five games.
On July 10, 2008, Sexson was released by the Mariners.
New York Yankees
On July 18, 2008, Sexson signed with the New York Yankees. Sexson did well in his Yankee debut, by collecting his first hit as a Yankee in the first inning with a single and also bringing in Bobby Abreu for the first run that inning. He went 1–3 with one RBI, one walk, and one strikeout. His only home run (a grand slam) as a New York Yankee came on August 5, 2008, against the Texas Rangers. Sexson was designated for assignment on August 15, 2008, after batting .250 with one home run in 22 games for New York. He was released on August 24, 2008.
What Is He Up To Now?
Following his final MLB game in 2008, Sexson moved back to Bend and a few years later he took a job as an assistant baseball coach for Summit high school.
His new job is different than the one he enjoyed during a 12 year MLB career but being the true baseball fan that he is taking a coaching job wasn’t that much of a stretch.
After three seasons as an assistant on former big league pitcher Alan Embree’s coaching staff at Bend’s Summit High School, Sexson took over the defending Class 5A champion Storm from his friend and fellow Prairie HS (Brush Prairie, Wash.) alum.
The Storm have lost five of their first seven games, but Sexson isn’t worried about the slow start. Summit has played mostly Class 6A competition, and even though 13 seniors from last year’s title team graduated, this year’s young squad is showing promise.
“I think when you’re a young player, you tend to take everything to heart,” Sexson said. “We’ve been stressing to the guys to have short memories, and we’re teaching them the little things about baseball. We’re trying to get them to think their way through games.”
The 6-foot-7 Sexson is unmistakable in the third-base coaching box, especially to those who followed his career in the late 1990s and 2000s. Sexson mashed 306 home runs and drove in 943 runs during his career, which spanned from 1997-2008 and included a little more than three seasons in Seattle with the Mariners.
He also played for Cleveland, Milwaukee, Arizona, and the New York Yankees, but he said the kids have gotten over that and just call him coach.
“We’ve been around for a while that the novelty has worn off,” Sexson said. “They treat us just like any other coaches now.”
Sexson retired after a 22-game stint with the Yankees in 2008, and shortly thereafter he returned to the Northwest and moved to Bend. He said he’s enjoying the retired ball player life and found a home in central Oregon because he liked the climate and thought it was a good place to raise a family.
“I’m an outdoor guy, and Bend has all of that,” Sexson said. “I’m being a dad, husband and catching up. Baseball takes up a little time for a few months, but I golf, fish, hunt and enjoy myself.”
When Embree decided to leave Summit, in part to follow his son Ace’s college baseball career at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho, Sexson agreed to take over the program “for a while.” He said he enjoys staying in the game and teaching it to the next generation of baseball players, and after his team’s second win — a 5-1 victory over Class 6A Roosevelt on Saturday — the rest of the state’s 5A contenders shouldn’t be writing off the Storm just yet.
“We’ve played some good competition with some 6A teams and good pitching,” Sexson said after Thursday’s 8-3 win over Hermiston. “Our 1-though-5 guys did a great job hitting the ball today, and for a lot of our guys, they are getting their first varsity at-bats.”
Summit has quite a history recently of using retired professional athletes to lead the school’s athletic programs. Along with Embree and Sexson on the diamond, retired NFL players Drew Bledsoe and Kevin Boss have been involved with the football program, which won a 5A title in 2015.