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

4.6 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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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)
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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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; 1 edition (May 12, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061671304
  • ASIN: B002SB8QOQ
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,095,229 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Admittedly, you have to be a fan of baseball to read and appreciate this gripping book. On its surface, the story appears tragic--a first-base coach is struck and killed by a line-drive foul ball-but the true story, told and detailed very well, is about the intersection of two lives, of a player and a coach destined, it seemed, to play out their baseball existence in the lower rungs of baseball's corporate structure.

As the (2013) World Series commences, we're made aware of the superstars of America's favorite game and their astronomical salaries. But the real story of baseball can be found in the smaller, minor-league parks where "prospects" and "lifers" and the also-rans play the game and sometimes, tragically, die.

Get this book. It goes a long way toward explaining the hold this wonderful game of baseball has on those of us who call ourselves fans.
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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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