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Coolbaugh, 35, dies after being struck by ball
07-23-2007, 08:25 PM
The White Debonair
Coolbaugh, 35, dies after being struck by ball
ESPN - Double-A coach dies after being hit in head by ball - Minor Leagues
DENVER -- Tulsa Drillers coach Mike Coolbaugh died after being struck in the head by a line drive as he stood in the first-base coach's box during a game. |
The Drillers' Texas League game against the host Arkansas Travelers was suspended in the ninth inning Sunday after the 35-year-old former major leaguer was hit by a foul ball off the bat of Tino Sanchez of the Drillers. Coolbaugh was taken to Baptist Medical Center-North Little Rock, where he was pronounced dead.
"The entire Drillers family is devastated by last night's terrible tragedy," Drillers president Chuck Lamson said in a statement posted Monday on the team's Web site. "The Coolbaughs have been a big part of our organization, with both Mike and his brother Scott playing for us. I know that Mike was very excited to become a coach and to begin this new chapter in his baseball career. Even in his short stint with us this year, he had provided a very positive influence on our club."
The Drillers said Monday night's game against the Wichita Wranglers in Kansas has been postponed.
The Drillers said Monday they had established a memorial fund for Coolbaugh's family. Coolbaugh also played for the team briefly in 1996. The family said a friend also had set up a memorial fund in San Antonio.
Coolbaugh's wife Amanda, 32, is pregnant and she said they planned to wait to find out the baby's sex until the birth. The couple has two sons, Joseph, 5, and Jacob, 3.
"You couldn't have asked for a better father," Amanda Coolbaugh said through tears Monday in San Antonio. "He just paid attention to the boys, put them in clubs and sports ... volunteered time on their teams."
Tulsa is the Colorado Rockies' Double-A affiliate.
"Our entire organization grieves at the death of Mike Coolbaugh," Rockies president Keli McGregor said. "We were shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the accident on Sunday evening. Mike was a great husband, father, brother and friend to so many throughout the baseball community. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, wife Mandy and sons Joseph and Jacob, and to all of those whose lives were touched by Mike over his career and his life."
Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig also released a statement Monday, saying "All of baseball mourns this terrible tragedy."
Minor League Baseball president Mike Moore asked all minor league clubs to fly their flags at half-staff and observe a moment of silence before Monday night's games.
"The hearts and prayers of the minor league baseball world go out to his entire family," he said.
Travelers spokesman Phil Elson said Coolbaugh was either hit on the right side of his head or on the forehead and fell to the ground immediately. According to a report on the Drillers' Web site late Sunday, Coolbaugh was knocked unconscious and CPR was administered to him on the Dickey-Stephens Park field.
Sgt. Terry Kuykendall, spokesman for North Little Rock police, said Coolbaugh was still alive when he was put in an ambulance, but stopped breathing as the ambulance arrived at the hospital.
"They tried to resuscitate him, but he was pronounced dead at 9:47 p.m.," Kuykendall said.
Coolbaugh played 44 games in the major leagues for the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers over two seasons. The Drillers' Web site said Coolbaugh joined the Tulsa staff on July 3 as a batting coach. He played for the team briefly in 1996.
"Mike was a kind and hard-working individual who lived life and played the game with great passion," said Reid Nichols, Brewers special assistant to the general manager and director of player development. "He will be greatly missed."
Aaron Rifkin, the Drillers' first baseman, said recently that Coolbaugh's coaching style already had been a help to the team.
"He came in and didn't try to change guys, just fine-tune what they were doing. He's been great for me," Rifkin told the Tulsa World.
Mike Schline, the general manager of the New Orleans Zephyrs, said there would be a moment of silence before the team's game Tuesday. Coolbaugh played for the Zephyrs in 2004, tying a single-season franchise record for home runs with 30, a statement released by the team said.
A native of Binghamton, N.Y., Coolbaugh went to Roosevelt High School in San Antonio and was drafted in 1990 by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 16th round.
He played third base and bounced around the minors for a decade before making his major league debut with the Brewers in 2001. He played five more big league games for the Cardinals in 2002. He hit two home runs in 82 major league at-bats.
Coolbaugh spent three years in the Houston Astros organization, first signing as a minor-league free agent in July 2003, the Houston Chronicle reported on its Web site Monday. He played at Double-A Round Rock in 2003, at Triple-A New Orleans in 2004 and at Triple-A Round Rock in 2005.
In 2005, he was named the Astros' Triple-A Most Valuable Player, hitting .281 with 27 homers and 101 RBIs.
Coolbaugh's older brother, Scott, also played 167 major league games over parts of four seasons with Texas, San Diego and St. Louis in the early 1990s.
The Travelers, the Angels' Double-A affiliate, led 7-3 at the time the game was suspended with no outs and a runner on first in the top of the ninth inning. The game halted in the top of the ninth inning with Tulsa batting, a runner on first, no outs, and Arkansas leading 7-3. On Monday, the Texas League office at San Antonio declared that the final score.
"I feel that it is in the best interest of all the players and staff on both clubs to declare the contest an official and completed game," Texas League president Tom Kayser said. "No one wanted to add to the trauma the two clubs have already endured, which would have undoubtedly occurred if the clubs were to resume their exact positions on the field so soon after the accident that claimed Mike Coolbaugh."
Sanchez, a 6-foot, 175-pound catcher, is hitting .174 in 26 games with the Drillers with one home run and eight RBIs. The 28-year-old switch hitter batted .325 in 23 games with the Drillers in 2006.
07-24-2007, 09:20 AM
a lover, not a fighter
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Durham, NC
Wife was pregnant. 2 young boys already. Very sad.
I also feel for the player who hit the foul ball.