Minor league coach dies after being struck by line drive in game

By: From Wire Reports
By: From Wire Reports

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- 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 Texas League game was suspended in the ninth inning Sunday after the former major leaguer was hit by a foul ball off the bat of Tino Sanchez of the Tulsa Drillers. Coolbaugh, 35, was taken to Baptist Medical Center-North Little Rock, where he was pronounced dead.

"It's a tragedy for all of baseball," Drillers president Chuck Lamson told the Tulsa World in a story posted on the newspaper's Web site early Monday. "He just joined the staff and was a former Driller player. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family."

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 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. Coolbaugh joined the Tulsa staff on July 3 as a batting coach. He played for the team briefly in 1996.

Tulsa is the Colorado Rockies' Double-A affiliate.

Drillers first basemen Aaron Rifkin said recently that Coolbaugh's coaching style had already helped 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.

A native of Binghamton, N.Y., Coolbaugh went to 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 reaching the major leagues for the first time with 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 70 major league at-bats.

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, an Angels affiliate, led 7-3 when the game at Dickey-Stephens Park was suspended with no outs and a runner on first in the top of the ninth inning. Officials said a date and time for finishing the game had not yet been chosen.

Coolbaugh is survived by his wife, Mandy, and two young sons, Joseph and Jacob, all of San Antonio. Mandy Coolbaugh is expecting another child in October.


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