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Mike Coolbaugh

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Mike Coolbaugh

Mike Coolbaugh
Third baseman
Born: (1972-06-05)June 5, 1972
Binghamton, New York
Died: July 22, 2007(2007-07-22) (aged 35)
North Little Rock, Arkansas
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
July 16, 2001 for the Milwaukee Brewers
Last MLB appearance
July 7, 2002 for the St. Louis Cardinals
Career statistics
Batting average .183
Hits 15
Runs batted in 7
Home runs 2
Career highlights and awards

Michael Robert Coolbaugh (June 5, 1972 – July 22, 2007) was an American baseball player and coach. Born in Binghamton, New York, he was the brother of former major leaguer Scott Coolbaugh. Coolbaugh died after being hit by a line drive while working as a first-base coach in a minor league game.

Playing career

Coolbaugh was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 16th round (433rd overall) of the 1990 Major League Baseball Draft.[1] Coolbaugh spent 11 seasons in the minor leagues. He broke the Southern League record for RBI in a season.[1]

On July 15, 2001, while playing for the Milwaukee Brewers Triple-A affiliate Indianapolis Indians, Coolbaugh was called up to the majors.[1] He never played for the Blue Jays, but did play third base with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2001 and the St. Louis Cardinals in 2002. Coolbaugh made 44 career appearances, mainly at third base or as a pinch hitter, hitting .183.

In 2004 he set a franchise record by hitting 30 home runs with the New Orleans Zephyrs (Houston Astros) In 2005, Coolbaugh was with the Houston Astros farm system. While playing for the Astros' Triple-A affiliate, the Round Rock Express, Coolbaugh had 27 home runs and 101 RBI.[2] The Astros were prepared to bring him up to the major leagues until he suffered a broken bone on his left hand during a Round Rock Express game.[2] In 2006, he signed with the Kansas City Royals.[2] While in spring training, Coolbaugh shattered his left wrist, leading to his retirement as a player.


Following his professional playing career, Coolbaugh turned to coaching. On July 3, 2007, he was hired as first base coach for the Tulsa Drillers, a Double-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies.


On July 22, 2007, Coolbaugh was killed during the ninth inning of a game against the Arkansas Travelers in North Little Rock, Arkansas, when a line drive hit by Drillers catcher Tino Sanchez struck him in the neck while he was standing in the first base coach's box.[3][4] The impact pulverized Coolbaugh's left vertebral artery, which severed the brain from the spinal cord. The result, according to Pulaski County Coroner Mark Malcolm, was a severe brain hemorrhage that essentially killed Coolbaugh on impact. Travelers general manager Pete Laven was among the first to reach Coolbaugh, along with Travelers team doctor James Bryan, team athletic trainer Brian Reinker and Gene France, a local doctor who was sitting near the first base dugout with his daughter and a family friend, both of whom are also physicians.[5] France watched as Bryan administered a "deep pain" maneuver, applying pressure to various areas of Coolbaugh's body, all with no response. CPR was administered to Coolbaugh on the field and he was breathing until the ambulance reached the hospital.

Coolbaugh was pronounced dead at 9:47 pm CDT (0247 UTC, 23 July), less than an hour after being struck with the line drive.[6] The game, which the Travelers had been leading 7-3, was suspended.[7] The next day, Texas League president Tom Kayser declared that the game would be considered a complete game.[8] The Drillers and Travelers both postponed their game scheduled the following night.[9][10]

After clinching the National League Wild Card playoff berth during the 2007 Major League Baseball season, the Colorado Rockies announced that the players voted to award Coolbaugh's widow, Amanda, a full share of their playoff winnings.[11] Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd said, "when I heard about what the players did, I almost cried." As the Rockies made it to the World Series, her share ended up being $233,505.18.[12]

On November 8, 2007, MLB general managers decided that base coaches would wear helmets starting in the 2008 season.[13]

Coolbaugh's life and death are the subject of a book by S.L. Price, titled "Heart of the Game: Life, Death, and Mercy in Minor League America" [14]

Mike Coolbaugh Award

In 2008, Minor League Baseball (MiLB) began presenting the annual Mike Coolbaugh Award to someone who has "shown an outstanding baseball work ethic, knowledge of the game, and skill in mentoring young players on the field."[15]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Sports Illustrated, September 24, 2007, p. 57
  2. ^ a b c Sports Illustrated, September 24, 2007, p. 58
  3. ^ Associated Press. "Ex-MLBer Coolbaugh dead at 35." Sports Illustrated, 22 July 2007.
  4. ^ "Coroner releases preliminary autopsy in Coolbaugh death...". Retrieved 2007-07-25. 
  5. ^ Tulsa World: Sunday's tragedy silenced a ballpark
  6. ^ "Coolbaugh, 35, dies; struck in head by line drive",, 23 July 2007.
  7. ^ "Drillers, Travs suspended", Minor League Baseball, 23 July 2007.
  8. ^ "Suspended Game Declared Final," Arkansas Travelers, 23 July 2007.
  9. ^ "Drillers to address media / resume play Tuesday", Tulsa Drillers, 23 July 2007.
  10. ^ "Travs and Cardinals Postponed Monday," Arkansas Travelers, 23 July 2007.
  11. ^ Rockies to share postseason payout with Coolbaugh's widow, retrieved October 4, 2007.
  12. ^ 2007 postseason shares announced from, 2007-11-26, retrieved 2008-06-02
  13. ^ ESPN - Coolbaugh's death prompts MLB to adopt helmets for base coaches - MLB
  14. ^ Heart of the Game: Life, Death, and Mercy in Minor League America Hardcover – May 12, 2009 by S.L. Price
  15. ^ "History: MiLB Major Award Winners". Minor League Baseball. Retrieved 2011-10-09. 

External links

  • Mike Coolbaugh - A Life in Baseball Remembered - - August, 2007
  • Double-A coach dies after being hit in head by ball,
  • Drillers coach struck by foul ball, killed,
  • Profile on ESPN
  • Career statistics
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