The majority of athletes never experience the unique elation and fulfillment of playing on a championship team. Mike Rex experienced it seven times in four years at Linfield.
Rex played on three Northwest Conference championship football teams (1972, ’74 and ’75) and on four Northwest Conference championship baseball teams (1973 through 1976).
And he made major contributions to winning those championships.
A 5-foot, 10-inch, 160-pound cornerback in football, Rex started every game of his college career except the first game of his freshman year.
With Mike Rex as starting cornerback, Linfield had a record of 28-8. In 1974 the Wildcats were unbeaten in the regular season and reached the semifinals of the NAIA national playoffs. In 1973 and ’74 he had a total of 11 pass interceptions.
His teammates chose him Rookie of the Year in 1972 and coaches awarded him honorable mention all-conference in 1973. In 1974 and 1975, coaches made him a first-team all-conference and all-district selection and media chose him first-team Little All-Northwest.
But his best football memory, he says, is that, "We beat PLU all four years."
Rex’s best sport, though, was baseball. He was picked on the first All-Northwest and all-district teams in 1974 (outfielder), ’75 and ’76 (shortstop) and was chosen first-team NAIA All-American shortstop in 1976, when he batted .368.
He set school records for stolen bases and runs scored in 1975 and batted .341.
Rex was selected as Linfield’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 1976.
The San Francisco Giants drafted him in the 18th round in June 1976 and he played in the Giants’ organization for seven years — including four years in class AAA, the highest step before the major leagues. Rex was on the Giants’ expanded major-league roster one season.
He was chosen all-star shortstop of the California League his second year and batted .307, among the top 10, in the Eastern League, on his rise to triple-A ball. One year in triple-A, playing second base with the Phoenix Giants, he batted .323 and led the Pacific Coast League in double plays.
When he finished his professional baseball career, Rex put his Linfield bachelor’s degree in psychology and physical education to use as a schoolteacher; he enhanced his preparation with a masters in education degree from Linfield in 1985.
He has taught PE and health at Patton Middle School in McMinnville the past eight years and resides in Mac with his wife, Kari, and daughters Taylor, a community college freshman, and Tristin, a sophomore at McMinnville High.
Mike Rex was an all-state football and baseball player at Lebanon High and was intensely recruited by colleges. Why did he pick Linfield?
"I don’t think there is a finer situation in Oregon than the one I had at Linfield," he said in an interview with the Oregonian. "I wanted to play both football and baseball. I got to do both, and I had fun doing it."