A star off the field (cont.)
Posted: Monday July 23, 2007 5:41PM; Updated: Monday July 23, 2007 9:52PM
"He was a good man," an emotional Hurdle said. "We had some common fabric. He had a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old, Jacob and Joseph, his wife's six months pregnant, Mandy is. So, we talked about kids. We talked about the relationship, the demands of a father, of a coach. And he was so excited.
"He was a good man. He loved the game and his family."
The former major leaguer who played 44 games for the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers over two seasons was remembered Monday as a generous man.
"He always said if he won the lotto, he would divide it up between every single person he knew," said Amanda Coolbaugh, who met Mike on the first blind date for both. They had been married for seven years.
Coolbaugh was good with his hands, and built a changing table and crib for one of his sons. He also was taking college courses on nights and weekends to earn a business degree.
Mikaela Adams Rios, who graduated with Coolbaugh in 1990 from Roosevelt High School in San Antonio, said she was grateful to have seen the star high school athlete at a luau get-together with a few other classmates in late June.
"You could tell he cared about everyone," said Rios, who had known Coolbaugh since kindergarten. "He gave hugs to everybody and wanted to talk about what they'd been doing. He was really kid-oriented. I was very impressed with how confident and secure he was as a father and husband and how much he loved his family. You could tell."
The native of Binghamton, N.Y., was homecoming king, a star quarterback and played baseball and basketball, Rios said.
"Everybody in high school liked him," she said. "He was a little more reserved in high school. Very focused on sports. He was a really nice popular guy."
Mark Worley, who hosted the June luau, said they talked briefly about his baseball career, "but it was definitely, 'Let's get the families together."'
Coolbaugh was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 16th round in 1990.
He played third base and bounced around the minors for a decade before reaching the major leagues for the first time in 2001 with the Brewers. He played 39 big league games that season and five for the Cardinals in 2002. He hit two home runs in 82 major league at-bats.
Coolbaugh's older brother, Scott, also played 167 major league games over parts of four seasons with Texas, San Diego and St. Louis in the early 1990s.
"Mike came from a baseball family, and he was a part of the baseball family," commissioner Bud Selig said. "On behalf of all of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest sympathy to his wife Mandy, their children and all of their family and friends."
The Drillers said Monday they had established a memorial fund for Coolbaugh's family. Coolbaugh also played for the team briefly in 1996. The family said a friend also had set up a memorial fund in San Antonio.
"The Coolbaughs have been a big part of our organization, with both Mike and his brother Scott playing for us. I know that Mike was very excited to become a coach and to begin this new chapter in his baseball career," Drillers president Chuck Lamson said in a statement. "Even in his short stint with us this year, he had provided a very positive influence on our club."
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.