Former major leaguer who graduated in 1989 returns to his old high school as a resource officer
Alan Embree needed a change, so he came back to the place that changed his life forever.
Once a Prairie Falcon, always a Prairie Falcon.
Embree, a World Series champion and a member of the Prairie High School athletics Hall of Fame, started a new job this week as a resource officer at the school.
“I tell everybody all the time that my high school years at Prairie were some of the best of my life,” Embree said. “I’ve done some pretty cool things over the course of my life, and still some of my fondest memories are here.”
“I love working with kids. This is kind of the perfect fit.”
Embree, Class of 1989, was on the mound in 2004 when the Boston Red Sox finished off the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series, then had three appearances in the World Series when Boston swept the St. Louis Cardinals.
Embree also pitched in the World Series for the Cleveland Indians in 1995.
In all, he had 16 seasons in the major leagues before retiring in 2009. Since then, he has been coaching at the high school and college levels in Oregon as well as in summer leagues.
He was the head coach at Summit High School in Bend for three seasons, a stretch that included a state championship. Oh, and one of his assistants? Richie Sexson, a former major leaguer who also graduated from Prairie High School.
“We had a phenomenal year,” Embree said of the 2016 squad. “It was fun.”
Last year, he had been looking into becoming a scout and was also considering some jobs in minor league baseball.
Then the world changed.
“You’re used to coaching or doing something every day, then COVID hit, and you can’t do stuff,” Embree said. “You start staring at the walls. Only so many times you can walk the dog.”
With his son and daughter out of the house, Embree figured he needed a change of scenery. He moved back to Clark County a month ago. When he learned of the opportunity to work at Prairie, he jumped at the chance.
“I loved it when I was here as a kid. I look forward to being able to connect with these kids, hopefully give them stories that will help them down the road,” Embree said.
There are many things from his coaching days that will relate to his job in security at the school, he said. It’s all about building relationships. You learn which teens need a pat on the back or a push.
Right now, there are only a handful of students and staff who check in on campus. Eventually, of course, school will return to a traditional schedule, with students throughout the hallways.
“I’m looking forward to the noise,” Embree said. “I know there’s going to be some trying times. But I want to see the kids. And I want them to have the same experience at Prairie that I had.”
On the field, Embree and his teammates won a state title in 1989. Embree, a left-hander, did not pitch that season due to a shoulder injury. Instead, he was a designated hitter and first baseman.
Still, professional scouts had already seen him pitch before that season. They were impressed. Cleveland drafted him in the fifth round.
In 1992, Embree made his major-league debut.
“SkyDome, 1992, playing against the world champion Toronto Blue Jays,” Embree recalled.
He got future Hall of Famer Dave Winfield out in the first inning, but two innings later, Winfield tagged Embree for a home run.
It was not a great debut from Embree but considering he pitched into the 2009 season, fair to say he got better.
After rehabbing from Tommy John Surgery, Embree returned to the big leagues in 2005. He struck out Alex Rodriguez to end Game 4 of the ALCS against the Mariners.
“That was rough, because I was a Mariners fan growing up,” he said.
The jersey that hangs in the hall outside of Prairie’s gym is the jersey he wore in that game.
The Indians would lose that year in the World Series, but Embree said that was the best team he played for in his career.
In 2004, he was on the Red Sox team that rallied from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Yankees in the ALCS. Embree was on the mound for the final out of that series.
That October, which included the World Series victory, is among his top memories in the game. He also appreciates his 2007 season with the Oakland A’s, the first time he got the chance to be a closer. He had 17 saves that year.
Embree will turn 51 later this month, and he is looking forward to his new job at Prairie. As of now, he has no official status as an assistant coach with the Falcons, but he said he would be available to help out in any way, if needed.
And he has advice for any younger baseball player who wants to make it a career.
“It takes hard work, dedication, and being able to sacrifice things that most kids aren’t willing to sacrifice right now,” he said. “Put in the time. There’s plenty of time to go play after you get the work in. Be a sponge. Get as many tips as you can from all different people. There is not one coach who is going to give you the magic potion or the master key. You’re going to take bits and pieces from all of them, and put it together with what works for you.”
Being a Prairie Falcon has worked out well for Alan Embree.
He’s back, at a place that he described as his second home as a teenager.
And he wants to help today’s students feel the same way.