Monday, July 23, 2007

Our Sympathies to the Coolbaugh Family

Rob has already picked this story up, but I was really saddened to read the story that Tulsa Drillers first base coach Mike Coolbaugh was killed after being hit in the head by a line drive while standing in the first-base coach's box.

I was fortunate enough to have attended a Tulsa Drillers home game a couple of years ago. Tulsa is the Rockies' Double-A affiliate and plays in this field that seems to be smack in the middle of town; right field overlooks a big-box retailer (which I think was Target but I might be wrong), and parking at Drillers Stadium requires one to cross a horse racing track in order to park on the infield. I had a morning meeting the following day with Wal-Mart, which is always a weird experience, so the game was the highlight of my overnight trip.

I remember getting a seat right behind home plate for something like $6 and watching six innings next to a guy who was heckling the opposing picture for his high stirrups. The pitcher was at first annoyed, but then started laughing at the heckles as well (which never got crude or coarse, and were mostly funny), and the whole episode served as a reminder on how intimate minor-league ball truly is.

I also remember balls being laced into the crowd all over the place, and though most of the seats were unoccupied so no one was hurt, I can see how it could be quite dangerous for a first-base coach who would have no time to react to a line drive. It's scary how close you feel to the action at a minor-league game.

Our thoughts go out to the Coolbaugh family and to the Drillers' organization.