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Sliding Safely into Home: My Life After Baseball 

August 30th, 2017

By Rick Hester

My career goal as a youngster from Elizabethtown, North Carolina was to play Major League Baseball. After my high school career at East Bladen High School, my student-athlete path continued to North Carolina State University, Southeastern Community College and Clemson University. I was also fortunate to spend three seasons with the Texas Rangers organization.  Those three seasons were primarily in rookie and A ball leagues. I spent those three seasons in Sarasota, Florida, – Burlington, Iowa – Daytona Beach, Florida – and finally in Salem, Virginia.

The highlight of my professional career was in the spring of 1984 as a starting pitcher for the Burlington Rangers. I was called up to pitch mid-season for the parent Texas Rangers Club against our AAA affiliate Oklahoma City. Back in those days, most major league clubs scheduled a mid-season game against their AAA teams. In many cases, the major league club would be continuing their major league schedule the next night. For that reason, they did not want to use their major league arms for the exhibition game so they would call up minor league prospects and watch them perform. I pitched in relief, got the win and received the game ball. That night was certainly the best moment in my professional baseball career.

My baseball career ended during spring training on Easter Sunday in 1986 when I received my release from the Texas Rangers. My dad had driven all night from North Carolina to Plant City, Florida to see me pitch. By the time he got to Plant City, I was no longer a Texas Ranger. I felt so bad that he had driven that far. Earlier that morning, the Rangers had given me the option to receive a release, be assigned back to Daytona Beach or possibly discuss a non-playing position in the Texas Rangers organization. I chose the release.

I will admit that I was a little depressed for a few days after my release because I knew my dream of playing in the major leagues was over. I could have tried out with another organization but decided to start another career path. I went back to school and completed my undergraduate degree in political science/public administration which took a year to complete. I owe a great deal of thanks to my family for their love and support during this transition period.

My father, Robert Hester, had served as an elected county commissioner in Bladen County, North Carolina throughout my teenage years. I had seen firsthand the positive impacts he had on our community. I decided to pursue a career in local government with the dream of one day being a city or county manager. I wanted to one day have a positive impact in a community.

I started my career in Johnston County, North Carolina which is about 25 miles east of Raleigh. My first position was an entry-level position in the planning and land use office in 1987. Along the way, I completed a master’s degree in public administration. In 1999, I became the County Manager in Johnston County and am fortunate to still serve in that role today.

I am so thankful and appreciative of the opportunities baseball provided me. I traveled the country and developed lifelong friendships. Those experiences as an athlete have greatly helped in my career and life.

To those players whose baseball careers and dreams of playing major league baseball have ended, know there are new opportunities for you. You likely have a large network of family and friends. It is important to let them know you are moving into another chapter of your life. Their support during your transition will be extremely helpful. Once they know what your interests are, they may be in position to help or possibly connect you with a prospective employer in their network. Pray about it, stay positive and never give up in the pursuit of your new dreams.

If you’d like to connect with Rick, click here to view his LinkedIn profile.

2 Responses to “Sliding Safely into Home: My Life After Baseball ”

  1. Ann Warner says:

    Rick we are all so proud of you. Everyone knew early on that you would be a success no matter what you did. I am sure you know this but you are so very fortunate to have been born to wonderful parents who raised you to love the Lord. When you decided not to stay with baseball you got so much support from family and guidance from your Heavenly Father. You have a wonderful wife and children a good job and lots of friends and still have your great parents. So so proud of the man you have become . Lots of love. Ann Warner

    • Rick says:

      Thank you, Ms Warner for your kind words. I am so blessed in so many ways. Mac and I stay in touch. We talked last night. Thank you for all you have done and what you do for Bladen County. You are a special lady. I hope our paths cross sometime in the near future. I would love to see you. Thanks again – Rick

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