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Heart of the Game: Life, Death, and Mercy in Minor League America Hardcover – May 12, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; 1 edition (May 12, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061671304
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061671302
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 6.5 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,297,338 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

On July 22, 2007, minor league baseball player Tino Sanchez Jr. hit a foul ball that struck his team's recently hired first base coach, Mike Coolbaugh, at the precise point on the back of his neck to cut off blood to his brain, killing him instantly. Price (Far Afield) builds upon the article he wrote for Sports Illustrated to flesh out the lives of Sanchez and Coolbaugh, two lifers who devoted everything to the sport and got only fleeting glimpses of the major leagues in return. Price leans a bit too hard on the melodrama at first, but this story doesn't need a hard sell. As he gets into the ordinary, working-class struggles of his two subjects, the men become real, vibrant personalities—and the tragedy, when it finally comes, takes on all too human dimensions; Sanchez's despair over the accident is as heartbreaking to read about as the anguish of Coolbaugh's family. Price isn't the first to argue that minor league baseball, bracketed off from the glitz and scandals of the big leagues, is where the game's true emotional core can be found. But he's found a story that makes a powerful case for that argument. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“Price brilliantly takes the reader through life in the minors, and as such it is also a portrait of small-town America. . . . Heart of the Game is a piece of literary excellence.” (Trenton NJ Times)

“A superb storyteller. . . . S. L. Price has done a masterful job.” (Chicago Tribune)

“It’s a story of hard luck in a hard game but, in the lives of two minor leaguers, Scott Price reveals the code of baseball. This is one of the baseball books that will endure as long as the game is played.” (Richard Ben Cramer, author of "Joe Dimaggio: The Hero's Life")

“S.L. Price has become a powerful force in giving readers a front-row seat to the spectacular. Through his unique gifts of observation and prose, the veteran journalist has painted compelling portraits of the special people, places and moments that define the games we play and watch.” (San Antonio Express-News)

“S.L. Price’s work, “Heart of the Game: Life, Death, and Mercy in Minor League America” is more than just another baseball book being released. It’s a legacy, an heirloom that can be handed from a father no longer here to his children.” (MLB.com)

“Hear the heartbeat of America and feel its breath in this beautifully-told tale of love, fate, and forgiveness. The best sports book I’ve read in many seasons.” (Robert Lipsyte, former New York Times sports columnist)

“I was reminded, as I read HEART OF THE GAME, what baseball has meant to me. The story of Mike Coolbaugh’s life and death will break your heart – and you won’t ever look at the game in quite the same way.” (Darryl Strawberry)

“[A] superbly written book . . . a story that’s both heartbreaking and uplifting, much like baseball itself.” (Dave Barry)

“The best baseball book I have ever read...Dazzling...a welcome antidote to the poisonous steroid sleaze that hogs the headlines and crams the bookshelves...If you read only one baseball book this year, make it ‘Heart of the Game.’” (Stan Hochman, Philadelphia Daily News)

“[V]eteran Sports Illustrated writer S.L. Price weaves his magic. Genuine and raw, Heart of the Game is a heartfelt work of despair, triumph, and redemption.” (Boston Globe)

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Once I picked this book up & started reading it, it was hard to put down!!
D. Wilkins
With the background stories of both men the reader is allowed to share in their dreams, adversities, triumphs, love, and grief.
Marc Matney
"Heart of the Game" tells the true story of Mike Coolbaugh, who spent many years in the minors trying to make the majors.
Gerard F. Zemek

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By D. O'Reilly on June 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Just finished reading "Heart of the Game" by S.L. Price. This is the story of Mike Coolbaugh, the Tulsa Drillers (Rockies AA team) coach who was killed by a foul ball in 2007. I had heard it was a good read, but that's doing this book a massive disservice. This is probably the best baseball (or for that matter, the best sports) book I've ever read. It focuses on Mike Coolbaugh, obviously, but it also focuses on Tino Sanchez, the guy who hit the foul ball, and how their lives came together for that day. There are side stories of the guy who threw the pitch, and also from the team trainer who felt responsible for not being able to save Coolbaugh (although there was nothing he could have done - Coolbaugh was a dead man from the instant the ball hit him, literally).

This is a VERY intense read at times, so be prepared. I guarantee you won't put it down when you start the last few chapters. But I strongly recommend you pay the $15 or so and buy the book.

By the way, lest you think this is just a tear-jerker (and sure, it does get emotional - how could it NOT?), it's also a very deep look at the way baseball works, how the minor leagues really work, how people are identified and pigeonholed early in their careers, that sort of thing. I learned lots of things I never had thought about. And the interesting thing is, a fair part of it mentions names familiar to any Rockies fan, because of the time Sanchez spent in the Rockies organization: Hurdle, Holliday, Christian Colonel, and so on.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Norm Miller on June 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This story is about a train wreck. It's about the defining moments that bring people together for whatever reason and forever changes their lives.

Having played the game it was easy for me to relate to the story of Mike Coolbaugh and his brother being taught the game by his father.

Both talented with their eye on making it. For years they could only see the light at the end of the tunnel. They were aware of other things in life that was important i.e. family and friends but their career paths were focused on baseball.

This book takes you on a in depth look at their minor league journey. The detail in the authors story is second to none. Baseball is all about the moment. It's risk vs. reward. A good day is like no other, a bad day makes you wonder what you're doing. But there's always tomorrow. Mike Coolbaugh did everything right. But luck, timing were never on his side. You can second guess everything in life except your passion for what you want to do.

The book is so well writtien, so layeredd and informative about the journey through the small towns of America that love their teams and players.

This is a tragic story, one of those endings that makes you ask why?

When you finally put the book down you can only empathisize and hope that all involved in this story can somehow pull it together and live their lives.

There's an old saying "you spend half your life trying to grip a baseball and in the end it's the other way around".

Thanks to the many fans and the class of the Colorado Rockies for taking care of the Coolbaugh family.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Shifty Lazar on April 20, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
This is the sad tale of a player, Mike Coolbaugh, a career minor leaguer, who after being hit by a batted ball, dies on the field. Despite that grim base to the story, we become drawn into the life and times of Coolbaugh as we learn of his struggles to become a major leaguer. When he is periodically called up to the big leagues, we exult with him. As a longtime baseball fan, it reveals something that we, as fans rarely consider, namely the great dedication to the game embodied by all the lifers who toil in the minors. It shows us some of the, I am not sure this is right word, but the politics of the minor leagues, how many more opportunities are given to those drafted high, as compared to men like Mike Coolbaugh. A very wonderful tribute and homage to Mike Coolbaugh.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 25, 2011
Format: Paperback
If you think the politics in your job are difficult to deal with...try being a minor-league baseball player. Price does a masterful job of telling the story of several minor-league lifers who come together in one life-altering event on July 22, 2007. Follow the story of two heartbreaking baseball careers that collide in the tragic sequence of events that resulted in the accidental death of Mike Coolbaugh. The author does a wonderful job of detailing the life of a minor-league baseball player - including the politics, false hope, small victories and great tragedies of life in baseball. See how several lives are forever changed by an act that took less than a second to unfold. You will gain a whole new respect for what baseball players go through to achieve their dreams. I will definitely be thinking about this book the next time I want to boo someone at Coors Field. Warning: The last quarter of the book is a real tear-jerker.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By tdbearcat on January 12, 2011
Format: Paperback
Simply one of the most riveting baseball books I've ever read. Could not put it down. Tears flowing...a truly gut wrenching, wonderfully told story of baseball in the minor leagues ending in tragedy.

Anyone I know who has read the book absolutely loved it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By gater on February 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I wasnt sure if I was going to be interested enough in this story to want to read an entire book on it but I was pleasantly surprised. I remember when it happened but reading in detail everything before and after it was fascinating. The story focuses mostly on Mike Coolbaugh but it also tells the story about Tino Sanchez and especially what he went thru after the tragedy. It is also interesting about Mike's brother Scott who was also a minor league player at the time. This is a really interesting read and I was a little surprised at the ending when the families finally met after the tragedy.
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