Heart of the Game

The Bats blog’s Ihsan Taylor has an interview with S.L. Price, author of a new book about the late Mike Coolbaugh and Tino Sanchez, the man whose foul ball ended Coolbaugh’s life. I’ll admit that when I first heard about this book I was skeptical that it would be something of a ghoulish cash-in on tragedy. From the sounds of it, I couldn’t be more wrong. Here’s Taylor:

. . . throughout the reporting, I had this strange experience. It’s a dark moment, obviously, but while talking to everyone involved I kept thinking, “I know this is a tale of woe, so how come I feel so good?” Because everyone — at this extreme moment where there was no place to hide or fake it — kept doing the right thing. Tino in his anguish showed great respect to Mike and the life he lived, the Coolbaugh family repeatedly reached out to Tino to let him know they didn’t blame him, to support him, and, he says, that pulled him from a very dark place. The Colorado Rockies voted Mike’s family a playoff share — it ended up over $230,000 — in 2007, though they didn’t know him and he’d only been with the team three weeks and the history of stingy ballplayers goes back as far as the game’s origins, and then they refused to talk about it.

I was especially taken with Taylor’s comments about how Coolbaugh wasn’t great — he wasn’t A-Rod or Clemens, though he was good enough to know what it took to be them, even if he couldn’t replicate it himself. About how, in that way, he was like most of us who, for all of our skills, will never win a Nobel Prize or be elected president or what have you, and for that reason we can all identify with him in ways we can never identify with a superstar.

In any event, read the whole interview. It will make you want to read what sounds like an excellent book. It has me, anyway.

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