Tulsa Drillers hitting coach Mike Coolbaugh died Sunday night after being struck by a line drive during the Drillers’ game at North Little Rock, Ark.
Coolbaugh was coaching first base when he was struck in the temple by a line drive off the bat of Tulsa’s Tino Sanchez. The Tulsa World reported that Coolbaugh stopped breathing and lost conciousness immediately. CPR was begun nearly immediately and he was quickly taken to a nearby hospital, but he was pronounced dead at 9:47 p.m. CT.
A North Little Rock police officer told the paper that Coolbaugh died because of massive head injuries.
Coolbaugh had joined the team as its hitting coach three weeks ago. He replaced Orlando Merced who resigned for personal reasons. It was Coolbaugh’s first coaching job after 17 years as a player. Coolbaugh spent the majority of his career in Triple-A, but he did have 44 games in the majors as well. He spent 39 games with the Brewers in 2001, hitting .200/.273/.321. The next season he hit .083 in five games with the Cardinals.
As a minor leaguer, Coolbaugh had a notable career, slugging 258 home runs and 1,007 RBIs while hitting .266/.337/.467. He had 30-homer season in 1997 (Double-A Huntsville, Athletics) and 2004 (Triple-A New Orleans, Astros). The Blue Jays drafted him in the 16th round in 1990.
Coolbaugh’s brother Scott is a former major leaguer who is the current hitting coach for the Frisco RoughRiders.