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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Sports Book I've Ever Read
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...
Published on June 22, 2009 by D. O'Reilly

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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sad, and kind of boring
Very sad book. You can tell the author did a lot of research and it is well written.

However, if found it really boring. The only parts of the book I really enjoyed were page 270 onward - the time of the actually accident , follow up by medical crews, and Mr. Coolbaugh's death.

Everything before and after this part of the book could have been...
Published on April 10, 2011 by zman1975


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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Sports Book I've Ever Read, June 22, 2009
By 
D. O'Reilly (Colorado Springs, CO USA) - See all my reviews
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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
5.0 out of 5 stars In depth look at a tragic story, June 29, 2009
By 
Norm Miller (The Woodlands, Texas) - See all my reviews
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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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Tribute, April 20, 2012
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Parallel Lines, August 14, 2009
"That can kill a guy."

Split seconds and fractions of inches. On July 22, 2007, Mike Coolbaugh was killed by a baseball hit by Tino Sanchez during a Class AA minor-league game in North Little Rock, Arkansas. Coolbaugh was coaching first base for the Tulsa Drillers - his 18th game with the ball club after a journeyman's career chasing his dream to play Major League Baseball - when the wicked line drive viciously struck him.

"The impact of the ball crushed Mike's vertebral artery - which carries blood from the spinal column to the back of the skull - against the left first cervical vertebra, at the base of his skull," writes S.L. Price in Heart of the Game: Life, Death, and Mercy in Minor League America (May 2009; Ecco, An Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers).

In dual biographies of Coolbaugh and Sanchez - along with research into tragedies that have occurred in the game due to players being struck by balls and a number of eyewitness accounts from the fateful July evening - Price delivers a stunning exploration on the personal drive, bitter disappointments and the lure of the diamond that ultimately brought them together.

By the time Coolbaugh ended his pro playing days, he had played for nine different organizations and on 19 different teams in a 17-year career that included a mere 44 MLB games. The 433rd pick of the 1990 June draft by the Toronto Blue Jays, he was served first his cup of pro-grade coffee in 2001. The Colorado Rockies made Sanchez their 342nd selection of the June 1997 draft, but his career had stalled due to a number of personal and professional issues. Tulsa's parent club is the Rockies.

Price weaves through the politics of pro baseball - where a player's career may hinge on one vote in a room filled with team management and an unwritten code can derail a former player from finding a coaching job in the low minors - with the biggest variable in the machinations of the expansive draft being a scout who has the courage to shout above the noise from his brethren. Particularly interesting is a section on Al LaMacchia - who scouted for Cincinnati, Philadelphia, the Braves, Toronto, Tampa Bay and the Dodgers - and what he saw in Coolbaugh that made him feel he had a future in the game.

A recap of the Tulsa season in 2007 finds an April 26 incident versus the Arkansas Travelers where a Tulsa pitcher suffered a fractured skull when he was struck by a line drive. Yes, it was the same teams in the same location. Coolbaugh, age 35, was not with the club at that time; he was hired in midseason after a coach abruptly left the club. Sanchez, then 28, was in his fourth stint with the Drillers, though he also spent a very short time with the Class AAA club in Colorado Springs.

The days leading to the fateful game have Coolbaugh and Sanchez perched at the crossroads found inside the clubhouse of life. Both had pregnant wives - the women would each give birth to a girl - and are facing a new set of priorities away from the ballpark; for Coolbaugh, in San Antonio, Texas, and in Puerto Rico for Sanchez.

But the tragedy will forever link their lives. One pitch and one swing in the immaculate Dickey-Stephens Park, a ballpark that would have been the envy of most pro clubs in seasons that are distant replays for historians; and most definitely in 1920, when Ray Chapman of the Cleveland Indians died after being hit by a pitch thrown by Carl Mays of the New York Yankees. After the 2007 season, MLB announced that base coaches would wear helmets starting in 2008. The rule remains in place, but the game is not quite the same.

"The last baseball games out west will be finishing late, in stadiums filled with strangers, and by morning all will know who won and who lost."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A touching and heart-wrenching story, July 22, 2009
The careers of minor league lifers Mike Coolbaugh, 35, and Tino Sanchez, 27, intersected as members of the Tulsa Drillers in 2007. Coolbaugh, the father of two boys and who's wife was expecting a third child, was making the transition to being a coach while Sanchez was a little used catcher.

In one sudden moment, both of their lives were changed. A sharp line-drive foul off Sanchez's bat struck Coolbaugh in the head; he died later that evening at the hospital.

Author S.L. Price sensitively and artfully tells the story of Coolbaugh and Sanchez, painting a picture of who they were, how they came together and how the event affected Coolbaugh's family as well as Sanchez and his family. Price also captures the hopes and dreams of career minor leaguers, whose life motto is "just give me a chance," and what it means to respect the game.

The minor leagues are where, as Price describes, "the pressure to perform is crushingly heavy, the financial cushion non-existent and the line between the haves and have nots vividly pronounced."

Coolbaugh played more than 1,200 minor league games for nine different organizations and on 19 different teams. He traded 17 years for 44 games in the major leagues.

"Mike had played for so many organizations that, for many, he'd become emblematic of the sports arbitrary nature, the thin line between perceived success and failure," writes Price.

Coolbaugh's former manager Jackie Moore said, "His (Mike's) love for the game is what eventually killed him. You love it so much and it gets in your blood and you can't get it out. But in most cases in professional baseball, you end up disappointed."

This is a touching and heart-wrenching story. It's about baseball and much, much more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting, must read for baseball fans, January 12, 2011
By 
tdbearcat (Mountain View, CA) - See all my reviews
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
4.0 out of 5 stars A tragedy but you get the inside story, February 7, 2010
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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be read by true fans of Baseball, May 20, 2014
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This review is from: Heart of the Game: Life, Death, and Mercy in Minor League America (Hardcover)
A friend of mine who played in the minor leagues was telling me about a former teammate named Coolbaugh who was killed by a line drive during a game, ,wanting to learn more about the incident, I researched it and found this book. What a read. Although this book is about Mike Coolbaugh, the tragedy, and the lives it affected, It also goes into detail about the inner workings and politics of the minor league system, it's players, coaches, culture, and how tough it is to make it into the big leagues when in reality, the players have no control over their destinies.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Tear-Jerking Read About The Tragic End To A Full Life In Baseball, October 25, 2011
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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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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Towering achievement in sportswriting, May 25, 2009
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"Heart of the game" is a classic example of sportswriting at its finest. Kudos to SI's Price for this wonderful book, one that should be read by every fan of the great game of baseball as it is played at its highest levels.

Can't be recommended highly enough!
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Heart of the Game: Life, Death, and Mercy in Minor League America
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