SAN ANTONIO -- Mike Coolbaugh became a coach with the Tulsa
Drillers earlier this month not so much for the job itself, but
because his little boys loved to see him on the baseball field.
"He had just started," said Coolbaugh's wife, Amanda, who is
expecting their third child in October. "We were going to be done
with it, but his kids wanted to see him."
Coolbaugh, 35, died Sunday after being struck in the head by a
line drive as he stood in the first-base coach's box during a game
Amanda Coolbaugh, 32, said they planned to wait to find out the
baby's sex until the birth. The couple has two sons, Joseph, 5, and
"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."
The game between the Double-A Drillers and Arkansas Travelers
was suspended in the ninth inning Sunday after Coolbaugh was hit by
a foul ball off the bat of Tino Sanchez. He was taken to Baptist
Medical Center-North Little Rock, where he was pronounced dead at
Arkansas was awarded a 7-3 victory Monday, the score at the time
of the accident. The game was stopped with a runner on first and no
outs for Tulsa.
"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."
The Drillers, a Colorado Rockies affiliate, said Monday night's
game against the Wichita Wranglers in Kansas was postponed.
"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."
The Blue Jays held a moment of silence before Monday's game in
honor of Coolbaugh, whom the Jays drafted in 1990. The Kansas City Royals also honored Coolbaugh's memory before facing the New York
"All of baseball mourns this terrible tragedy," commissioner
Bud Selig said.
According to a report on the Drillers' Web site late Sunday,
Coolbaugh was knocked unconscious and CPR was administered to him
on the field.
Sgt. Terry Kuykendall, spokesman for North Little Rock police,
said Coolbaugh stopped breathing as his ambulance arrived at the
Coolbaugh joined the Drillers on July 3, and Rockies manager
Clint Hurdle chatted with him the next day. They talked about
balancing the demands of baseball and family.
"He was a good man," an emotional Hurdle said. "We had some
common fabric. He had a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old, Jacob and
Joseph, his wife's six months pregnant, Mandy is. So, we talked
about kids. We talked about the relationship, the demands of a
father, of a coach. And he was so excited.
"He was a good man. He loved the game and his family."
"He always said if he won the lotto, he would divide it up
between every single person he knew," said Amanda Coolbaugh, who
met Mike on the first blind date for both. They had been married
for seven years.
Coolbaugh was good with his hands, and built a changing table
and crib for one of his sons. He also was taking college courses on
nights and weekends to earn a business degree.
Mikaela Adams Rios, who graduated with Coolbaugh in 1990 from
Roosevelt High School in San Antonio, said she was grateful to have
seen the star high school athlete at a luau get-together with a few
other classmates in late June.
"You could tell he cared about everyone," said Rios, who had
known Coolbaugh since kindergarten. "He gave hugs to everybody and
wanted to talk about what they'd been doing. He was really
kid-oriented. I was very impressed with how confident and secure he
was as a father and husband and how much he loved his family. You
The native of Binghamton, N.Y., was homecoming king, a star
quarterback and played baseball and basketball, Rios said.
"Everybody in high school liked him," she said. "He was a
little more reserved in high school. Very focused on sports. He was
a really nice popular guy."
Mark Worley, who hosted the June luau, said they talked briefly
about his baseball career, "but it was definitely, 'Let's get the
Coolbaugh was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 16th round
He played third base and bounced around the minors for a decade
before reaching the major leagues for the first time in 2001 with
the Brewers. He played 39 big league games that season and five for
the Cardinals in 2002. He hit two home runs in 82 major league
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.
"Mike came from a baseball family, and he was a part of the
baseball family," commissioner Bud Selig said. "On behalf of all
of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest sympathy to his wife
Mandy, their children and all of their family and friends."
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.
"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," Drillers president Chuck Lamson said in a
statement. "Even in his short stint with us this year, he had
provided a very positive influence on our club."
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.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.