By Todd DeFeo
A minor league baseball coach died this weekend after he was struck by a line drive during a game.
Mike Coolbaugh, 35, was the first base coach for the Tulsa (Okla.) Drillers when he was struck by the line drive during the ninth inning of a game against the Arkansas Travelers. Coolbaugh lost conscious after he was struck by the ball, and he was later declared dead at a local hospital, authorities say.
“I am deeply saddened by the tragic death of Mike Coolbaugh,” Mike Moore, Minor League Baseball President, said in a statement posted on the Drillers’ Web site. “The hearts and prayers of the Minor League Baseball world go out to his entire family.
“I would ask that everyone keep the Tulsa Drillers team in their thoughts and prayers during this difficult time,” Moore added. “I am asking all Minor League Baseball clubs to fly their flags at half-mast and observe a moment of silence tonight before their games in memory of Mike.”
The game was called after Coolbaugh was struck by the line drive. The Drillers were losing 7-3 at the time.
Coolbaugh played professional baseball for 17 years, including two in he major leagues. He leaves behind a wife and two young sons.
“On behalf of the entire Texas League family I want to express our heartfelt condolences to Mike’s wife Mandy, sons Joseph and Jacob and all the members of his family,” Tom Kayser, Texas League President, said in a statement posted on the Drillers’ Web site. “This is a tragedy beyond words.
“Mike was just beginning the next phase of his baseball career, as a hitting coach, something he was enjoying and finding great satisfaction in very quickly,” Kayser added. “His passing will be deeply felt by his many friends in this and many other leagues in professional baseball. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Coolbaugh family.”
The Drillers are the Double-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies.