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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mike Coolbaugh's Life, Death In An Upcoming Book

Mike Coolbaugh, most recently AA Tulsa's hitting coach before he was killed by a line drive foul to the throat in a game against the Travs on July 23, 2007, has had his life memorialized in a book by S.L. Price, Heart of the Game: Life, Death, and Mercy in Minor League America.
"In doing my research for [a Sports Illustrated article on Coolbaugh], there was a bunch of reaction from around the league," Price said. "Willy Taveras said this quote that stuck with me: 'This baseball game will break our heart.' There was something about that that animated me throughout the writing of the story. The expectation and knowledge of this heartbreaking side to the game that didn't really take them by surprise. It's such a tough existence for these guys. As much as there's ups, there's a lot of down to it. They're taught to accept that and part of baseball's code."

Perhaps no one accepted that more than Coolbaugh, who played nearly 1,700 games in the Minors and hit 258 home runs, but got just 82 big league at-bats on his resume before retiring and embarking on his coaching career. Often overlooked as a player, it's unfortunate that it took the tragedy that occurred in Little Rock, Ark., nearly two years ago to get him his due. But both the author and the family understood the importance of letting people know what Coolbaugh stood for while he was alive.



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