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Drillers coach struck by foul ball, killed

Coolbaugh was knocked unconscious by line drive to head
July 23, 2007
Tulsa Drillers hitting coach Mike Coolbaugh died Sunday night, less than an hour after he was struck in the head by a line drive. He was 35.

Coolbaugh was pronounced dead at 10:47 p.m. ET at Baptist Health Medical Center, according to Sgt. Terry Kuykendall of the North Little Rock (Ark.) Police Department.

The incident occurred in the top of the ninth inning of the Drillers' Texas League game against the Arkansas Travelers. Coolbaugh was coaching first base when he was hit in foul territory by a liner off the bat of Tulsa designated hitter Tino Sanchez.

According to the Drillers' radio broadcast, Coolbaugh barely had time to lean back before he was struck. Trainers from both teams and medical personnel at Dickey-Stephens Park rushed to Coolbaugh and treated him until an ambulance arrived some 15 minutes later.

Coolbaugh reportedly did not regain consciousness and was not breathing when paramedics began administering CPR on the field. His neck was immobilized before he was taken to Baptist Health Medical Center.

Kuykendall said Coolbaugh stopped breathing again as the ambulance arrived at the hospital and doctors were unable to resuscitate him. As with any "unnatural death," police are conducting an investigation, Kuykendall said.

"We're attempting to gather as much information as we can ... so maybe we can give the family some answers," he added.

Coolbaugh took over as Drillers' hitting coach on July 3. He spent most of his 17-year playing career in the Minor Leagues, appearing in 39 games with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2001 and five games for the St. Louis Cardinals the following year.

Coolbaugh is the younger brother of former Major Leaguer Scott Coolbaugh, who serves as hitting coach for the Frisco RoughRiders.

After a delay of approximately 30 minutes, the game was suspended with the Travelers leading, 7-3.

On April 26 at Dickey-Stephens Park, Tulsa right-hander Jonathan Asahina also was struck by a line drive near his left temple and suffered a fractured skull and ruptured eardrum. He was hospitalized for nearly a week but has since rejoined the team.

Daren Smith is a staff writer for