OPRF grad, former pro baseball player Amrhein dead

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By Brad Spencer

Sports Editor

Oak Park and River Forest High School graduate and former minor league baseball player Mike Amrhein died on Thursday, July 5.

Amrhein, who worked in the special services department at Downers Grove North High School for the last six years and was an assistant varsity baseball coach, graduated from OPRF in 1993. While there, he was a baseball star under the tutelage of legendary coach Jack Kaiser. Amrhein went on to star at Notre Dame and was drafted in the 10th-round by the Chicago Cubs, making it as far as Triple A.

"Mike is one of the all-time greatest baseball players to come out of OPRF," said current OPRF head baseball coach Chris Ledbetter, who had last visited with Amrhein in April during the Huskies' series against the Trojans. "I always enjoyed catching up with him. I wanted him to land at OPRF at some point, but I was happy when I heard he got the job at Downers North. He was a great guy and a great coach."

Amrhein played six years in the Cubs minor league system as a catcher, outfielder and designated hitter. He had stints as a Major League spring training call-up in 2000, '01 and '02. Upon retiring, he worked as a graduate assistant at the University of Toledo before accepting the assistant coaching position at Downers North.

Amrhein was also an accomplished basketball player while at OPRF. He helped steer the Huskies to a 23-4 record his senior year.

"I have never seen a more fierce competitor and his work ethic was unmatched," said current OPRF head basketball coach Matt Maloney, who played alongside Amrhein at OPRF. "He was an exceptional teammate and a loyal friend. I have never heard anyone utter a bad word about Mike and he was always showered with compliments. He was one of the Huskie greats and will be sorely missed. His legacy will never be lost with those of us that had the pleasure of playing next to him during our athletic careers."

Amrhein, whose wife Jill (Lahey) is also an OPRF graduate, was 37 years old and had two young children. 

Contact:
Email: bspencer@oakpark.com Twitter: OakParkSports

Reader Comments

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Jonathan Dutter from Lowell, MI  

Posted: July 11th, 2012 5:36 PM

I was shocked when my Mom called and told me about Mike's passing. I played numerous sports with him from our time at Lincoln through Emerson, was in Cub Scouts with him and Indian Guides. I have many fond memories of him. He was a great man and I know he will be missed. My prayers and thoughts are with his wife, kids, sister, and parents. RIP Mike, Heaven has 1 more wonderful man now.

David Czerwinski from San Jose, CA  

Posted: July 10th, 2012 9:24 PM

I was so saddened to hear of Mike's passing. I knew him since the days of Lincoln and Indian Guides. He was not only a great athlete but a kind soul. I still remember batting against Mike once in pony. For me it was a major accomplishment when I managed to foul off one of his pitches but I can still remember how bad my hands stung :-) My thoughts are with his sister, parents, wife, and kids.

Mary Schaal from Oak Park  

Posted: July 10th, 2012 9:17 AM

I was shocked and saddened to hear the news of Mike's passing. Growing up across the street from me, I knew him always as a great kid. My heart goes out to his family. May God comfort all of you in this very difficult time.

Daniel Lingenfelter  

Posted: July 9th, 2012 11:01 PM

I am saddened to hear this news. Mike and I played youth soccer together. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

Gary Ghertner from Chicago, Illinois  

Posted: July 9th, 2012 2:15 PM

I am saddened by the passing of such a young man. I never met him but I remember him from Little League days.

Dan Figatner from Chicago  

Posted: July 9th, 2012 12:28 PM

I was friends with and graduated with Mike in high school and have never met a nicer, more genuine person. RIP Mike

Kim Sayers from Darien   

Posted: July 9th, 2012 10:07 AM

He was such a great guy, he will be missed. Thoughts and prayers for his family.

Mike Williams from Murphy, TX  

Posted: July 8th, 2012 10:58 PM

Mike was one of my best friends from grade school through college. He was a great man and will be missed. From battling each other in fast pitch at Lincoln to battling together on the field, he was the best. A man of great character and integrity. Our deepest sympathy and prayers go out to his wife, children, parents, sister, and friends.

Just curious  

Posted: July 8th, 2012 10:08 PM

Does anybody know how a healthy guy like this dies?

Mike Stetzer  

Posted: July 8th, 2012 9:20 PM

I had the pleasure of playing for Coach A during my senior year at DGN in 2007. Aside from being one of the most charismatic coaches I've ever had, he seemed to have this aura about him. He was genuine, sincere, and very kind. I am deeply saddened by this news and my heart goes out to the Amrhein family.

Dan Devore from Belgrade, MT  

Posted: July 8th, 2012 9:17 PM

My mom called to let me know Mike had passed away, what a shock. Mike was a great family friend. We grew up next door to one another. I watched Mike grow into a great baseball player during school. Our prayers go out to his Mom & Dad, Sarah, Jill and his children. We will miss him deeply. With regards, Dan Devore

Fred Devore from Glendale Heights, IL   

Posted: July 8th, 2012 8:08 PM

My friend Mike Amrhein will be deeply missed. This world will never be the same with out him. There are not enough words in this world to discribe how wonderful my buddy Mike was. I grew up right next door to him and he was my best friend. Although our lives took different paths I always held him close to my heart! As I weep for my friend my prayers and thoughts go out to Jill, his two children, his sister sarah and his parents. Rest in Peace my friend until we meet again. Fred Devore

Frank Koerner from Phoenix, AZ.  

Posted: July 8th, 2012 12:51 PM

Mike Amrhein was a wonderful young man who grew up down the block from our house in Oak Park. I got to know Mike quite well when Mike,Tom,Matthew and I were in the same father-son organization called Indian guides. He was kind,generous, respectful and had a infectious enthusiasm for anything he took part in. My deepest sympathy goes out to Tom and Anne and to his wife and children. He will be missed by everyone, who ever had the privilege of meeting him

Derek Archer from Galesburg, IL  

Posted: July 8th, 2012 12:51 PM

As a teammate of Mike's in high school, I had the privledge of seeing and experiencing his leadership, dedication and worth ethic first hand. He was the ultimate teammate, and those of us who were honored enough to be teammates and friends of Mike's will always be better off for knowing him. He is the definition of what it is to be a Huskie. My thoughts and Prayers go out to Jill, his children and his family.

Maureen from Oak Park  

Posted: July 8th, 2012 12:20 PM

I have know Micheal and his family for over thirty years. I had the pleasure of watching Mike grow up to a become a husband and father. He was sooo much more then the athlete he is being remembered for. He was smart, respectful and just a great person. He was a joy to his parents and family. I am so broken hearted for his parents, wife and children and hope everyone gives then their prayers and respects their privacy. Maureen Kolbusz

Matt Koerner from Fort Myers, FL  

Posted: July 8th, 2012 9:38 AM

I have known Mike since Kindergarten. We grew up a block away from each other. He was by far the best athelete I have ever personally known. He could do everything. While he always loved baseball the most, I thought he was one of the best basketball players I ever saw as well. Not only was he a great athelete, but a great friend as well. He was the nicest, most genuine, friendliest guy around. It makes the world a little bit worse without Mike in it. He will be forever missed.

Nicole from Plainfield   

Posted: July 8th, 2012 2:32 AM

I'm a former student of mrs. amrhein's and was lucky enough to meet her husband my heart is broken for their entire family as well as his colleagues and students, the field of special education has lost a wonderful man and he will never be forgotten!!!

N. Ramone Jones from N. Waterboro, Maine  

Posted: July 7th, 2012 9:07 PM

I have had the pleasure to play against and with Mike from age 10-18, you couldn't have known a better young man and teammate. He was a great leader and I am honored to have shared shaping moments of character with him. Life has taken us to different place, all his success, on and off the field is no surpise to anyone who knew him. An OPRF Huskie brother through life an death. I send prayers and thoughts to his family, you will miss him more than I will know...

Lisa from Oak Park  

Posted: July 7th, 2012 3:12 PM

Mike was my son's private baseball coach before he took the job at Downers North. He was an incredible guy with a warm, gentle spirit. My son learned a lot from him and now plays college baseball. Our family is shocked and saddened by this news. We are holding Jill, the kids, and the entire Amrhein family close in prayer.

Eric  

Posted: July 7th, 2012 11:27 AM

This is very sad news. I worked with Jill Amrhein last year, and met her husband once or twice. Definitely will be praying for the family.

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