After 23 seasons, Augusta coach Rick Hess is done coaching the baseball team.


 

At the end of last season, Rick Hess wasn’t even sure he was going to coach Augusta’s baseball team anymore.

Hess’ wife Carla and son Alec both pleaded with him to stay one more year, which he did. But Friday after the?Orioles’ loss to El Dorado in Regional play ended their season, Hess’ mind was made up.

After 23 seasons, Hess is done coaching the baseball team.

“I’ll always love the game. I‘ve played it since I was 5 [years old]. I been a part of it for 41 years straight,” Hess said. “I’ll miss it some. I’ll still be a supporter. But physically and mentally, I have no regrets. I need to be done, take care of my body, and when it’s not as enjoyable as it once was, that speaks volumes.”

Even during the last few days of the season, Hess was dealing with health issues. He’s had nine surgeries, including on his back and wrists, and had to spend time in the hospital last summer.

“At first, I didn’t really agree with his decision, but if he’s happy and that’s what he wants, then I agree,” Alec said. 

Hess knows it seems like odd timing. Alec will be a senior next season. He said his wife and son have shed some tears about the tough decision.

“I love the game. Right now, my body is not loving me much back,” Hess said.

Leaving behind a legacy

Hess was the first to throw a pitch for Augusta High School’s baseball team in 1979. He went on to pitch at Butler for two years, then for two more at Newman University, where he received postseason honors his senior season.

“You don’t get much for it, you get a [little] plaque, but it’s my favorite plaque,” Hess joked with a smile.

Though he never won the big one, Hess did lead Augusta to a State runner-up finish and will finish his career with a winning record. More than that, though, Hess is proud of the name he helped build for Augusta baseball.

“Myself and my teams have always represented Augusta well,” Hess said. “I was born in this town, and that means a lot to me. We don’t throw our helmets and we don’t throw our bats. We don’t address other teams and other players and other coaches in anything disrespectfully.”

Hess said he had a tremendous amount of gratitude for his son, wife and daughter Aubrey through the years.

“More than anything else through the years, I’ve appreciated my family. My wife Carla, she goes through all the wins, she goes through all the losses with me,” Hess said. 

Now that he’ll have free time for the first time next spring, he plans on going to tournament bass fishing, getting back out on his motorcycle and, if his wrists allow, hitting the golf links.