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Mike Coolbaugh, 1972-2007
2007-07-23 07:20
by Bob Timmermann

Tulsa Drillers coach Mike Coolbaugh died Sunday night in North Little Rock, Arkansas as the result of being hit in the head by a line drive while coaching at first base. Coolbaugh was 35 years old.

News accounts say that Coolbaugh fell instantly after being struck in the head by a line drive off the bat of Tulsa's Tino Sanchez. The game between Arkansas and Tulsa was suspended immediately. Coolbaugh passed away less than an hour later.

Coolbaugh had played in the majors for the Brewers and Cardinals and his older brother Scott played in the majors as well.

People who have lived in Southern California have probably long heard Vin Scully going on about how base coaches should wear batting helmets. And a lot of us have thought Vin was just being something of an alarmist. I don't know if this tragedy will make it more likely for coaches to start wearing head protection, but perhaps the time has come. All minors who work on the field as a bat boys or ball boys are required to helmets. National high school rules require players who are serving as base coaches (which is fairly common) to wear helmets.

I think coaches are aware of the risk. Here is a photo I took last year of Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo when Albert Pujols Scott Rolen was at bat.





2007-07-23 08:41:02
1.   underdog
God, how awful.

I feel bad for Sanchez too. Could have happened to any batter. Definitely time for coaches to wear helmets; there's no reason not to. Are they worried about fashion?

2007-07-23 08:42:40
2.   Marty
Are there any coaches in the majors who already wear them? If it's more than one I'd be surprised.
2007-07-23 09:07:03
3.   Knuckles
This is indeed a sad story, and one that could turn the tide towards base coaches wearing more protection. We always laughed when Bowa and other Yankee 3B coaches would clear the hell outta the box for Sheffield's AB's, but it was a necessary evil...
2007-07-23 09:43:02
4.   blue22
Batting helmets for 3rd and 1st base coaches is one of Vin's go-to stories whenever there's a sharp line drive, just foul. He thinks it has to do with good ol' male pride.
2007-07-23 09:44:50
5.   blue22
And I see you've got Vin right there in your story, Bob. Sheesh.

Very sad news though.

2007-07-23 09:47:44
6.   GoBears
I just saw this story in my Yahoo! headlines, and decided to check the Griddle before posting a link on DodgerThoughts. And sure enough, Bob has it covered.

And I think that's Scott Rolen at bat. Or maybe Oquendo was still making his way in from the LF corner after Pujols batted?

2007-07-23 09:51:22
7.   Bob Timmermann
Yes, it is Rolen.
2007-07-23 21:33:29
8.   BruceR
Another aspect to this sad and tragic situation. Mike and his wife have two little children and a third due in August. Very, very tough for the family.

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