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Coolbaugh's death after game stuns family, baseball

July 24, 2007|From the Associated Press

Mike Coolbaugh became a coach with the Tulsa Drillers this month not so much for the job itself, but because his little boys loved to see him on the baseball field.

"He had just started," said Coolbaugh's wife, Amanda, who is expecting their third child in October. "We were going to be done with it, but his kids wanted to see him."

Coolbaugh, 35, died Sunday after being struck in the head by a line drive as he stood in the first base coach's box during a game in Arkansas.

Amanda Coolbaugh, 32, said they planned to wait to find out the baby's sex until the birth. The couple have two sons, Joseph, 5, and Jacob, 3.

"You couldn't have asked for a better father," she said Monday. "He just paid attention to the boys, put them in clubs and sports, volunteered time on their teams."

The game between the double-A Drillers and Arkansas Travelers was suspended in the ninth inning Sunday after Coolbaugh was hit by a foul ball off the bat of Tino Sanchez. He was taken to Baptist Medical Center-North Little Rock, where he was pronounced dead at 9:47 p.m.

"All of baseball mourns this terrible tragedy," Commissioner Bud Selig said.

According to a report on the Drillers' website, Coolbaugh was knocked unconscious and CPR was administered to him on the field and he stopped breathing as his ambulance arrived at the hospital.

"He always said if he won the lotto, he would divide it up between every single person he knew," said Amanda Coolbaugh, who met Mike on a blind date. They had been married for seven years.

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