By Brad Spencer
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.