Bigger than the game
I’m taking a break from the usual AFL Stars of the Day today. Sometimes there are things bigger than the game that are important to discuss, times when tragedy — and the triumph of the spirit that so often shows the resilience of people — intersects with the game.
Just over two years ago, the baseball world was shocked by the news that Minor League coach Mike Coolbaugh was killed after being struck by a foul ball while he was coaching first base. He left behind his wife, Mandy, and now three children (Mandy was pregnant with their daughter at the time). The story sent shock waves around and outside of the game. Rather than retell the story, I’ll just encourage everyone to read S.L. Price’s wonderful book, “Heart of the Game: Life, Death, and Mercy in Minor League America.” You can also read my story about the book here.
As tragic as the story is, what’s happened since is truly remarkable tale of one man’s legacy and how those who loved him have battled with grief by trying to make sure that legacy is handed down and expanded to as many people as possible. Mandy Coolbaugh is a true inspiration, a woman who is raising three children on her own and trying to ensure her husband’s name continues to stand for the values that made him so special. She was gracious enough to write this first-person account on the two-year anniversary of Mike’s death.
And the work continues. In just two weeks (Saturday, Nov. 7), the third annual Mike Coolbaugh Memorial Tournament will take place at the Tapatio Springs Golf Resort in the San Antonio, Texas area. The event includes golf and a dinner, complete with a wonderful silent auction. The event, designed initially to provide help for Mandy and her kids, now has a wider focus. On the homepage of the site, it says:
Mandy would like to give back to others in her community and promote
safety in baseball nationwide. She feels that so many people have
blessed her family with heartfelt messages and cards as well as
donations, she wants to help others. The proceeds from this year’s
tournament will go partially to help support Mandy and the kids, but
also to start a baseball clinic for kids from San Antonio who have lost
a family member. She also wants to do what she can to promote safer
conditions for baseball players, coaches and fans at every level.
Please join us to help support this heartfelt mission.
I would love nothing more than to be there to do just that, but it’s looking like it’s not in the cards for me. So I’m going to blog about it. And blog about it again. And then again. Look for several Coolbaugh-related messages on here from now until the event takes place. There’s still time to sign up to go if you’re going to be in the area and there are plenty of ways to donate. If yo have items you want to donate (memorabilia collectors, now’s your chance), send it to:
11844 Bandera Rd. #447
Helotes, TX 78023-4132
I hope that as you read this, you look around your life and appreciate what you have. In getting to know the Coolbaugh family, in seeing Mandy’s heroism — and that’s not a word I toss around carelessly — I know my perspective of my own good fortune has shifted. Life is so fleeting — this tragedy painfully points that out — so I encourage all of you to live it to the fullest. To me, one of the best ways to fulfill that mission is to help others. Donating to this cause would be a really good first step.
I’m on a little bit of an “activist” kick, so stay tuned on Monday for a post (as well as a story on MLB.com) about a great team effort with the Arizona Fall league and the Joe Niekro Foundation for Aneurysm Awareness Week!