My sisters lost a friend last night. Mike Coolbaugh was killed after being hit in the
Mike leaves behind his wife, Mandy, his sons, Joseph & Jacob (who I recall seeing with Coolie out on the field after games) and a third child due in October.
I also can't begin to imagine what Tino Sanchez must be feeling. Every ballplayer hits foul balls down the line, or hits a line drive back at the pitcher. But no one is supposed to die when that happens - I have seen first and third base coaches dodge foul balls more times than I can count. This was a tragic accident, but Tino will have to come to terms with the fact that it was his foul ball that took the life of a good man.
Round Rock has a home game tonight. I can't help but wonder what they will do to acknowledge the untimely death of a former Express player. In 2005, his last season with the Express, he had hit 27 home runs and had 101 RBI, was named a PCL All-Star, and was the Astros' Triple-A MVP for the season, then he broke his wrist and spent the rest of that season (about a month??) on the DL. Coolie was a fan favorite. I can't imagine tonight's game will happen without some sort of remembrance.
The San Antonio native leaves behind two sons, Joseph, 5, and Jacob, 3, and his wife, Amanda, who is expecting their third child in October. A collection will be taken up for the Coolbaugh family at the homeplate and right field gate entrances of The Dell Diamond prior to Monday night’s game between Round Rock and Oklahoma.
All donations collected will go directly to a fund set up for the family at Spirit Bank in Tulsa, Okla. In addition, all fine money from the Texas League, plus an additional $1,000 for each of the league’s eight teams, will go towards the fund.
Lamson [ed. - Tulsa Drillers President] also announced that the Drillers and Spirit Bank have set up a memorial fund to benefit the Coolbaugh family. Checks can be made payable to the Mike Coolbaugh Memorial Fund and sent to:
Mike Coolbaugh Memorial Fund
c/o Spirit Bank
1800 S. Baltimore Ave.
Tulsa, OK 74119
Donations can also be made in person at any Tulsa area Spirit Bank location.
All proceeds collected will go directly to the Coolbaugh family. Spirit Bank began the fund with a $5,000 donation.
The Drillers game scheduled for Monday night in Wichita has been postponed by the Texas League. A decision will be made later on when the team’s next game will be played.
Funeral arrangements for Coolbaugh are still pending.
Update IV (7/24):
My sisters are doing okay. Last night at the ballpark, they were around others who knew Coolie and called him a friend. Last night's promotion was "Christmas in July", but severe weather first delayed and ultimately resulted in it being postponed until a future date. Weird thing? At the time they cancelled the game, the radar was looking pretty nasty. After they made the official announcement, the weather cleared up. My sisters are convinced Coolie had something to do with it - that he didn't want people having to play and be sad. The Express still have many staff and players who knew Coolie, in particular: Jackie Moore, the manager, Brooks Conrad (2B), Barry Wesson (outfielder), Danny Klassen (infielder) and Travis Driskill (reliever/closer). I just don't think everyone would have had their head in the game, had it not been called. The local news had stories about Coolie last night, some with interviews with management and/or players.
Today's paper has a very nice write-up:"He loved this game," said Express second baseman Brooks Conrad, who played with Coolbaugh. "He just could not get enough of it. I could go on and on about him. Bottom line, I'm going to think about him the rest of my life."
Mike Coolbaugh's funeral will be Monday, July 30th at 10:30am. The funeral Mass will be at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, 8134 Blanco Road, San Antonio, Texas. Visitation will be Sunday, July 29th from 4:00pm to 6:00pm at Porter Loring Mortuary North, 2102 North Loop 1604 East, also in San Antonio.
From the Express article:A collection will be taken up for the Coolbaugh family at the homeplate and right field gate entrances of The Dell Diamond prior to Round Rock’s Aug. 3 game between Round Rock and Colorado Springs [ed. - the Triple-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies; the Tulsa Drillers are the Rockies' Double-A affiliate; at least one Sky Sox player, Mike Gallo, was an Express teammate of Coolbaugh]. In addition, there will be one final passing of the hat to remember Coolbaugh and to accept donations for his family.
All donations collected will go directly to a fund set up for the family at Spirit Bank in Tulsa, Okla. Checks can be made payable to the Mike Coolbaugh Memorial Fund and may be sent to the Mike Coolbaugh Memorial Fund, c/o Spirit Bank, 1800 S. Baltimore Ave., Tulsa, OK 74119. In addition, all fine money from the Texas League, plus an additional $1,000 for each of the league’s eight teams, will go towards the fund. The Nolan Ryan Foundation and Spirit Bank have each donated $5,000 to the fund.
I like the choice of the Friday night game, since this should result in a higher turnout, and a larger outpouring from fans, than if they had chosen to do this for the first game of the series on August 1st. I anticipate that they will also use this game to make the tribute intended for last night's postponed game. I didn't know Coolie, but from everything I've read, and things I've heard "through the grapevine", the world is a lesser place without Coolie in it, not because he was some baseball great, but because of the kind of man that he was.
"What has for years been a tradition in minor league baseball will now become a tribute to baseball veteran Mike Coolbaugh for the remainder of the 2007 Round Rock Express season.
When Round Rock returns home on Aug. 1, the team will begin a stretch of 20 home games in 34 days. Every time an Express player hits a home run, the traditional helmet will be passed around The Dell Diamond seating bowl. Only now, all of the money placed into the helmet will be donated to the Mike Coolbaugh Memorial Fund.
The passing of the helmet has long been a staple of the minor leagues. After a home-team player hits a homerun, his helmet is passed around the crowd and stuffed with dollar bills. Round Rock has hit 42 home runs at The Dell Diamond this season."
Mike Coolbaugh: The Tributes
Round Rock Express' Tribute to Mike Coolbaugh
Update IX (10/4/07):
Why the Rockies should win the World Series