By Joyce Godwin
The months of May and June were eventful for the Rick Carpenter family. Prosper’s long-time head baseball coach finished a stellar baseball season with the Prosper Eagles on the Regional level, announced his retirement and saw his son’s team play at Globe Life Park in a rare interleague series when the Cardinals came to Arlington for the first time since 2011.
Coach Carpenter and his Eagles won the District 9-6A title and finished a 32-8 season with a loss to Rockwall in three games in the Class 6A Region II quarterfinals May 18. But it was that very run for the State crown that kept Coach Carpenter from watching his son, Matt Carpenter of the Saint Louis Cardinals, play in Globe Life Park. On the next day, when Rick Carpenter could be there, Matt didn’t play. It was his day off, and his dad called it “brutal timing.”
During that series, when asked if he planned to retire, the seasoned high school head coach said he wasn’t planning on it at that moment. He explained he has always closed out his season without making any decisions until a month or more into the summer. He reasoned that when the season ends, he is drained and might be willing to walk away before he is really ready. Instead, he chooses to come back to the issue with a fresh mind and heart. That was the day after his season finished in May.
A month later, Coach Carpenter did decide it was time to end his storied career and begin a new season of life. Carpenter won 74 percent of his games in 12 seasons at Prosper and ended with a record of 329-112-3. He is one of the most successful baseball coaches in Texas history racking up a career record of 883-311-8 and winning four state championships…the last of which was in 2015 with Prosper.
On June 8th, son Matt Carpenter, who wears No. 13 for the Cardinals, sent out the following on Twitter: “Congrats to my Dad @RickCarpenter14 on his retirement. 40 years in coaching, 37 as a teacher and head high school baseball coach in Texas! 883 wins 4 state titles and 1 national title, member of THSBCA hall of fame..but more importantly the impact he had on the lives of many kids.”
Two of those kids he mentions are his sons – Matt and Tyler Carpenter who both signed with a major league team. Tyler signed with the Mets and though he didn’t get out of the minor leagues, Rick Carpenter said the younger of the two was okay with giving it up.
Some of his other players to get to the pros are Kipp Wells, drafted by the White Sox. He was a first-round draft choice in 1998. James Loney has had a 10-year big-league career and was drafted by the Dodgers. Chad Huffman was also called up for the Yankees and played for a time on the Cardinals with Matt. He was still playing in 2018 according to MLB references on the Internet.
Carpenter is clearly proud of the accomplishments of these players, but they don’t have to make the pros to spark Coach Carpenter’s pride. Young men come back to see him all the time and say “thank you” for what they learned from him. There are lawyers, teachers, entrepreneurs, coaches and more, all thankful for the influences he’s had on their lives.
A press release from Prosper ISD states, “Carpenter is one of only two coaches in the state of Texas to have won State Championships at two different schools winning the titles for Elkins in 1995, 2002, and 2003 and Prosper in 2015.
“During his coaching years, Carpenter has accumulated 29 playoff berths, 19 District Championships, 19 recognitions as District Coach of the Year, and Coach of the Year recognition from the Houston Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, Texas Sports Writers State Coach of the year, MLB Players State Coach of the Year, Houston 5A Coach of the Year, NFHS Texas Coach of the Year, BCA District 6 Coach of the Year, ABCA Regional Coach of the Year, BCA National Coach of the Year, and USA Today National Coach of the Year.
“Carpenter has been named to the Elkins Baseball Hall of Fame, Franklin High School Hall of Fame, Texas High School Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame and was recently named to be a member of the inaugural class of the Prosper ISD Athletic Hall of Honor. Carpenter has coached 34 professional players during his time as a Texas baseball coach.
“Carpenter retires with 40 years in education to enjoy retirement with his wife Tammie, three children and three grandchildren. Prosper ISD Athletic Director, Valerie Little spoke about Carpenter’s retirement saying ‘We have mixed emotions about seeing Coach Carpenter retire from Prosper ISD. We are very sad to see him go but also excited for him and his family and the time they will have to spend together in this next chapter. Coach Carpenter has impacted hundreds of lives while in this profession and his impact on Prosper ISD baseball and the District in general are immeasurable…he will always be a part of Prosper Baseball.”