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On the Same Page with Scott L. Price

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From the author of Pitching Around Fidel and Far Afield comes an account of the accidental death of minor league first base coach Mike Coolbaugh, illustrating the many ways in which baseball still has a hold on America.

“Heart of the Game” centers on the death of Mike Coolbaugh, a minor league coach who was killed on a sweltering Sunday evening in Little Rock in July 2007 when a foul ball rocketed off Tino Sanchez's bat. Coolbaugh died almost instantly, his body carted off the field of the Double-A Arkansas Travelers. He was 35 years old and the father of two children; a third child was on the way.

Mike's exemplary life—his devotion to the game and to his family—is the spine of the story. But this side of the story isn't the focus of the book. The drama is in the telling of what can happen when a projectile hits the human body, of the narratives of the remarkable people who happened to be in the ballpark at that fatal moment, of the impact of Coolbaugh's death on the man who hit the ball, and of all the lives left behind.

Price reveals anew that classic heart of Americana—small-town sports, small-town lives—and makes us understand that a game played away from the mindless churn of Internet blather and highlight shows can be more important than those played on the national stage.

A Senior Writer at Sports Illustrated since 1994, Scott L. Price has written three books: “Pitching Around Fidel: A Journey into the Heart of Cuban Sports” (1998, HarperCollins/Ecco), which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; and in September 2007, “Far Afield: A Sportswriting Odyssey”, which The New York Times Sunday Book Review called “a gracefully written book…Price is a virtuoso at locating unconventional entries into common topics.

Tommy Sanders interviewed Scott L. Price at the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame during the 2009 Arkansas Literary Festival.

Click here to visit Scott L. Price website

Transcript

WELCOME TO "ON THE SAME PAGE." WELCOME TO THE ARKANSAS SPORTS HALL OF FAME. TODAY'S BOOK DEFINITELY A SPORTS STORY AN DEFINITELY WITH AN ARKANSAS CONNECTION. IN JULY OF 2007, JUST DOWN THE STREET THE ARKANSAS BASEBALL CLUB WERE PLAYING THE TULSA DRILLERS. MIKE COOLBAUGH WAS STRUCK BY A BATTED BALL FROM TINO SANCHEZ. MIKE COOLBAUGH FELL INSTANLEY DEAD. A GREAT TRAGEDY THAT TOOK MINOR LEAGUE NAME MIKE COOLBAUGH'S NAME TO THE FRONT PAGE OF NEWSPAPERS AROUND THE COUNTRY. SO IMPORTANT WAS THIS INCIDENT THAT "SPORTS ILLUSTRATED" SENT DOWN WRITER SCOTT PRICE TO DO A TWO PAGE STORY. WHEN HE ARRIVED HERE IN LITTLE ROCK OTHER STOPS IN THE AA CIRCUIT, HE REALIZED VERY QUICKLY THAT THIS WAS MORE THAN A TWO PAGE STORY. THE BOOK THAT RESULTED "HEART OF THE GAME" IS OUR BOOK TODAY "ON THE SAME PAGE." JOIN US, WE'LL TALK TO SCOTT PRICE. I'D LIKE YOU TO MEET SCOTT PRICE. YOU MAY KNOW HIM AS S. L. PRICE. TEN YEARS WITH NEWSPAPERS BEFORE THAT. AUTHOR OF TWO OTHER BOOKS BESIDES HEART OF THE GAME. A BOOK CALLED PITCHING AROUND FIDEL AND FAR FIELD:A SPORTS WRITING ODYSSEY. SCOTT, THANKS FOR SPENING TIME WITH US TODAY. WHEN DID YOU FIRST HEAR OF THE MIKE COOLBAUGH INCIDENT? HOW WERE YOU AFFECTED BY IT?

THE FIRST TIME I HEARD ABOUT IT WAS LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE. DAY AFTER, DAY OR SO AFTER. HEARD ABOUT IT. AND I WILL SAY THAT I THINK, LIKE EVERYBODY, I WAS SHOCKED AND HAD THIS SORT OF INSTANTANEOUS, OH MY GOD, THAT'S SO BIZARRE, SO STRANGE. I WAS IN THE MIDST OF DOING ANOTHER STORY AND I READ ABOUT IT AND THEN I SORT OF MOVED ON. THEN ABOUT A WEEK LATER AN EDITOR OF MINE AT SPORTS ILLUSTRATED CALLED ME AND SAID, WOULD YOU BE INTERESTED IN MAYBE DOING SOMETHING ON THIS? WE'RE ENVISIONING MAYBE A TWO OR THREE-PAGE STORY. I SAID SURE, YEAH. I'LL GO DOWN. I LOVE MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL. I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN INTERESTED IN IT. WORKED FOR A MINOR LEAGUE TEAM IN 1980 FOR A SUMMER. JUST LOVE THE MINOR LEAGUE SCENE. AND, I CAME DOWN TO FRISCO, TEXAS. FOUND OUT THAT'S WHEN TINO SANCHEZ WOULD BE RETURNING TO THE TEAM. AND --

HOW LONG AFTER THIS?

THIS WAS -- THE SDEN WAS JULY 2 #ND. THIS WAS AUGUST 8TH. SO THREE WEEKS LATER, TINO WAS DOWN THERE IN YAUCO, PUERTO RICO. I FELT LIKE THE STORY HAD BEEN COVERED SO MUCH THAT -- AND SO WELL, BUT TINO HADDEN SPOKEN YET. I THOUGHT WELL IF WE'RE GOING TO DO A STORY, WE HAVE TO TAKE IT A LITTLE BIT FURTHER AND TRY AND GET TINO. THAT WAS SORT OF MY CAVEAT TO THE EDITOR. I THOUGHT ONKNOW IF IT'S WORTH IT TO DO WHAT EVERYBODY ELSE HAS DONE. IF WE'RE GONNA DO IT, IT'S WORTH IT. I WENT DOWN TO FRISCO TEXAS. TINO'S FIRST GAME BACK. HE DID NOT KNOW THAT SCOTT COOLBAUGH, MIKE'S BROTHER, WAS COACHING THE FRISCO TEAM. IN THE FIRST INNING HE LOOKS UP AND THERE'S SCOTT COOLBAUGH WALKING UP THE FIRST BASE LINE. TINO LOOKS UP. THERE'S A MAN WITH THE WORD COOLBAUGH ON HIS BACK. AND I KNEW THAT. AND OF COURSE I'M WATCHING THIS. AND THEN IN THE EIGHTH INNING TINO WAS SENT OUT TO SUBSTITUTE AT FIRST BASE. AND TO PLAY THE FIELD AT FIRST BASE. AND I KNEW THE TWO HADN'T SPOKEN. THE TWO OF THEM I'M SUDDENLY REALIZING ARE STANDING SIDE BY SIDE, FOUR, THREE FEET AWAY FROM EACH OTHER. AND I JUST FELT LIKE I HAVE NEVER SEEN A MORE EMOTIONALLY PACKED MOMENT IN MY LIFE. AND THE HAIR -- I'M TALKING ABOUT IT NOW, THE HAIR ON MY ARMS GO UP.

HOW DID THOSE GUYS FEEL?

ACTUALLY, TINO WAS OBVIOUSLY FELT GUILT-RIDDEN, HAD GONE TO YAUCO. HAD BEEN CRYING NIGHT AFTER NIGHT.

YAUCO IS HIS HOME IN PUERTO RICO.

SORRY, YES. TOOK IT UPON HIMSELF THE GUILT. HE KNEW IT WAS A FREAK ACCIDENT. KNEW IT COULD HAPPEN TO ANYBODY. BUT THE FACT IS THAT HE COULDN'T HELP BUT FEEL GUILTY. HE DIDN'T SLEEP. HE KEPT IT BASICALLY TO HIMSELF. AND DIDN'T TALK TO HIS FAMILY ABOUT IT, NOTHING. EVERYBODY SORT OF LEFT HIM ALONE.

HAD NOT TALKED TO THE COOLBAUGHS.

THE COOLBAUGHS, OF COURSE, THEY'RE NOT BLAMING HIM EITHER. BUT IT'S VERY DIFFICULT FOR THEM BECAUSE EVEN THOUGH THEY KNOW IT'S NOT HIS FAULT, IT'S DIFFICULT TO SEE THIS PERSON AND MEET WITH HIM. THEY, AT THE SAME TIME, FELT WE WANT TO PUSH PAST THIS AND SOMEHOW REACH OUT TO TINO. AND SO I KNOW THIS A LITTLE BIT. BUT WHEN I SAW THAT SCENE AT THE BALL PARK, I REALIZED THAT THIS WAS A MUCH DEEPER STORY. AND AT THE END OF THAT GAME I WAS WALKING DOWN TO THE CLUB HOUSE. LIGHTS HAD JUST GONE OUT IN THE STADIUM. I SAW TINO TALKING TO TWO WOMEN. I FOUN OUT LATER THOSE TWO WOMEN WERE MIKE'S SISTER LISA AND SCOTT'S WIFE. AND THAT WAS THE FIRST TIME THEY HAD MET. AND I LATER SPOKE TO TINO AND THE PRINCIPLES INVOLVED. BUT THE POINT IS THAT I'M REALIZING AS THE MOMENTS GO BY THAT IT'S AN INCREDIBLE STORY.

CERTAINLY TURNED OUT TO BE LONGER THAN A TWO PAGE STORY. DID YOU KNOW THEN IT WAS GOING TO BE A BOOK?

I THEN CALLED SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. I SAID LOOK, THIS IS A MUCH DEEPER STORY. THEY SAID GREAT. DO IT. I DID THE STORY. TINO SPOKE TO ME. I ENDED UP BEING THE FIRST PERSON HE SPOKE TO. I HAPPENED TO BE THERE AT THE TIME. HE WAS READY. SO, AS A RESULT, YES. EVERYBODY SPOKE TO ME. AFTER THE STORY CAME OUT, I GOT AN INKREBLD RESPONSE. IT WAS THE FIRST TIME IN MY 15 YEARS THAT I KNEW HERE WAS A STORY THAT I HAD NOT DONE JUSTICE TO. I DID THE BEST I COULD IN THE SPACE. THERE WAS A PARAGRAPH DEVOTED TO, FOR EXAMPLE, THE PEOPLE IN THE BALL PARK THAT NIGHT. PEOPLE LIKE BILL VALENTINE. I JUST THOUGHT THERE'S TOO MUCH HERE. THIS IS A REAL CHANCE TO TELL A STORY ABOUT MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL.

THE BOOK WAS BASICALLY BORN AT THAT TIME. THE BIG JOB DIGGING DEEPER INTO THE LIVES OF MIKE COOLBAUGH AND TINO SANCHEZ. THEIR LIVES AND CAREERS. NOT THE EASEIEST CALL WHEN YOU HAVE TO TALK TO RELATIVES WHO HAVE BEEN THROUGH THIS TRAUMA. YOU IMAGINE IT AS BEING TERRIBLY DIFFICULT, TRYING TO GET THESE PEOPLE TO OPEN UP TO YOU. NOT HURTING THEIR FEELINGS AND NOT TORTURING THEM.

IT TAKES AN INCREDIBLE AMOUNT OF FOREBEARANCE AND PATIENCE ON THE PART OF THEM. LUCKILY FOR ME I HAD WRITTEN THE STORY ABOUT MIKE. THE WAY I ENDED THE STORY, AND I MEANT IT, WAS MIKE WAS NOT AN EXCITING PLAYER. HE WAS NOT A PERSONALITY. HE WAS DOWN AT THE BONE MINOR LEAGUE LIVER. AND THERE WEREN'T MANY STORIES WRITTEN ABOUT MIKE COOLBAUGH. EVEN THOUGH HE PLAYED 17 YEARS. HE WAS YOUR BASIC GUY. WHAT SUDDENLY MADE HIM INTERESTING, AND WHAT MADE PEOPLE PAY ATTENTION TO A VERY GOOD MAN'S LIFE WAS THE TRAGEDY AND STRANGENESS OF HIS DEATH. SO THAT'S HOW I ENDED THE STORY. I'M SAYING HERE'S A GOOD MAN WHO FINALLY THE WORLD HAS PAID ATTENTION TO BECAUSE OF THIS STRANGE EVENT. I THINK THAT BECAUSE OF THAT, THE FAMILY UNDERSTOOD MY APPROACH TO THIS BOOK. I CERTAINLY, MY REPORTING COILED FINE NOTHING TO SAY ABOUT MIKE COOLBAUGH. FAMILY, TINO AND EVERYBODY WENT ABOVE AN BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY, RESPONDING NOT JUST TO THE INITIAL INTERVIEWS. BUT I HAD TO GO BACK TO THEM. I HAD TO NAIL DOWN DETAILS, VERY DIFFICULT MOMENTS. IN SOME WAYS IT WAS HARDER FOR ME THAN IT WAS FOR THEM. IN THE SENSE THAT PEOPLE WANT TO TALK ABOUT THESE THINGS.

THEY DO?

LOVED ONE DIE, PEOPLE WANT TO TELL WHY HE WAS LOVED AND WHAT IT WAS ABOUT THEM. AND THERE IS THE PAIN OF RECOUNTING CERTAIN EVENTS. BUT THERE'S ALSO THE BALANCE OF BEING ABLE TO TELL WHY THEY WERE SO ADMIRED IN THEIR LIFE TIME.

LET'S TALK ABOUT THE COOLBAUGH FAMILY AND THE WAY HE CAME UP. HIS FAMILY ORIGINALLY FROM UPSTATE NEW YORK. STARTED A BUSINESS IN SAN ANTONIO. FAIRLY SUCCESSFUL. THEY WERE COMFORTABLE PEOPLE THERE. DAD PUSHED AND WORKED THESE BOYS TOWARD A BASEBALL CAREER.

RIGHT.

HOW MUCH OF A HARD DRIVING DAD WAS IT?

BOB COOLBAUGH IS SORT OF YOUR CLASSIC TOUGH DAD. HE WASN'T -- I DON'T THINK HE GOT TOO PHYSICAL WITH THE KIDS. HE WAS VERY HARD ON THEM. PUT IN A BATTING MACHINE IN THE BACKYARD. BEFORE SCOTT OR MIKE COULD DO ANYTHING, DO WHAT YOU'VE GOT TO DO BEFORE YOU DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO. THAT MEANT 200, 300 SWINGS A NIGHT. THEN HE WOULD HAUL IN BIG LOGS.

STUMPS.

STUMPS, BASICALLY. BASICALLY HAVE THE KIDS CHOPPING STUMPS. HE HEARD OF MAJOR LEAGUERS DOING IT IN THE NORTH WOODS OF CANADA. MIKE AND SCOTT WERE CHIPPING THE STUMPS SO QUICKLY THAT BOB HAD TO DULL THE BLADE SO THE STUMPS WOULD LAST A LITTLE BIT LONGER. REAL INTENSE. BUT THE KIDS LOVED IT. THEY LOVED BASEBALL. AND IT WAS A BASEBALL FAMILY. THE GRANDMOTHER, BOB'S MOM, LOVED GAMES, WATCHING THEM EVERY NIGHT. IT WAS A BASEBALL FAMILY. AND BOB DID HAVE THE TIME. AND IT WAS -- EXTRAORDINARY.

MOTIVATING. THE OLDER BROTHER SCOTT GOT MORE PRESSURE TO BE PURE BASEBALL THAN THE YOUNGER BROTHER MIKE. GOOD HIGH SCHOOL, COLLEGE, THEN WENT INTO PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL.

WENT TO THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS. VERY QUICKLY BASEBALL WAS CLEARLY HIS SPORT. THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT BEING THE FIRST BORN SON OF A BASEBALL NUT, YOU'RE GONNA TAKE A LOT OF THAT. MIKE PLAYED A LOT OF DIFFERENT SPORTS. HE WAS IN SOME WAYS A BETTER FOOTBALL PLAYER. HE WAS A BETTER FOOTBALL PLAYER. THERE WERE COLLEGES THAT WERE INTERESTED IN RECRUITING HIM. HE WAS THE BEST HIGH SCHOOL QUARTERBACK IN SAN ANTONIO. AND -- BUT THEN THERE WAS THIS FREAK ACCIDENT.

WEIRDEST THING I HAVE EVER HEARD.

HALFTIME OF A GAME. HIS COACH, THE HEAD COACH OF HIS TEAM AT ROOSEVELT HIGH BASICALLY WENT INTO A TIRADE AND CALLED MIKE OUT FOR THE PLAY. THEY WERE LOSING AT THE TIME. THREW A CLIPBOARD. MEANT TO THROW IT AT THE WALL. INSTEAD IT STRUCK MIKE UP HERE IN THE FOREBED, BRIDGE OF THE NOSE. HE BLED PROFUSELY. SUDDENLY THE COACH WAS FIRED BECAUSE OF IT.

COACH FELT TERRIBLE.

COACH DID FEEL TERRIBLE. BUT HE WAS KNOWN FOR BEING THIS LOMBARDI TYPE. AS A RESULT, THE SCHOOL, THE FAMILY BELIEVED THE SCHOOL BACKED AWAY AND --

THE RECRUITING SCHOOLS. WHY WOULD THAT BE?

THEIR FEELING WAS THAT BECAUSE THE COACH WAS VERY PLUGGED IN. AND THEY FELT LIKE WHY WOULD THE COACH DO THAT? WAS MIKE A BAD ACTOR IN SOME WAY? WAS THE COACH PUSHED TO IT? THEY JUST -- THEY SAY THE SCHOLARSHIP OFFERS DRIED UP. AND THEN MIKE BEGAN HOUSE TRAINING ON BASEBALL. AGAIN, STRANGE IRONY IS THAT A FREAK ACCIDENT GOT HIM REALLY INTO BASEBALL. A FREAK ACCIDENT IS WHAT ENDED HIS BASEBALL CAREER.

GOES INTO THE MINOR LEAGUES. GETS A SIGNING BONUS TO GO IN THERE. TO ME TSH BULK OF THE BOOK, THE MOST GLORIOUS PART OF THE BOOK IS YOUR EXAMINATION OF HIS LIFE IN THE MINORS. THAT'S NOT A VERY EASY SUBJECT TO TAKE ON. VERY INTRICATE. ARCANE RULES OF BEHAVIOR. A CHESS GAME, REALLY, TO FIND A SPOT ON A MAJOR LEAGUE TEAM. YOU SAY YOU HAD WORKED FOR A MINOR LEAGUE CLUB.

WE'RE TALKING COLLEGE INTERN TYPE THING. I GOT PAID WITH A HOT DOG AND CAN OF COKE FOR RUNNING THE PRESS BOX OR WHATEVER UP FOR THE ALBUQUERQUE DUKES. THE FACT IS THAT I HAD TO GO AND SORT OF UNDERSTAND THE CODE OF BASEBALL AND WHAT IT IS. THAT'S WHAT I TRIED TO GET AT WITH BOTH TINO AND MIKE. EVERYBODY THINKS MINOR LEAGUE PROSPECT. THAT'S WHAT YOU SAY ABOUT EVERYBODY IN THE MINOR LEAGUES. SORT OF GENERAL MEDIA. NOT EVERYBODY IS A PROSPECT. DEPENDING ON THE SIZE OF YOUR BONUS, DEPENDING ON WHERE YOU'RE DRAFTED, IF THERE ARE A LOT OF VARIABLES, DEPENDING ON WHO'S AHEAD OF YOU IN THE DEPTH CHART. THERE'S A LOT OF VARIABLES PUT ON PLAYERS AND LABELS. TO A CERTAIN EXTENT HOW YOU PLAY ALMOST DOESN'T MATTER. I MEAN, OBVIOUSLY YOU CAN PLAY YOUR WAY THROUGH THAT IF YOU'RE EXTRAORDINARY. IT'S VERY TOUGH TO GET PAST THOSE LABELS. MIKE HAD A LABEL PUT ON HIM.

WHAT WAS THE LABEL IN.

HE WAS AN ORGANIZATIONAL PLAYER. HE WAS A GUY WHO BASICALLY WAS, YOU KNOW, HE WAS GOOD ENOUGH TO PLAY, GOOD ENOUGH TO FILL A SPOT BUT NOBODY REALLY HAD THEIR EYE ON HIM AS A FUTURE MAJOR LEAGUER. I COULD NEVER PIN DOWN THE RHYME OR REASON. HE PRODUCED.

HE DID PRODUCE. CHRIS WEINKE, BEFORE HE PLAYS FOOTBALL, PLAYED BASEBALL. MIKE WAS DRAFTED BY THE BLUE JAYS, SO WAS WEINKE. BASICALLY WEINKE GOT THIS MASSIVE BONUS COMPARED TO MIKE. HE WAS WELL PUBLICIZED. PEOPLE KNEW WHO HE WAS. FANTASTIC HIGH SCHOOL TALENT, BOTH FOOTBALL AND BASEBALL. MIKE FOUND HIMSELF BUMPING BEHIND WEINKE THE WHOLE TIME. THAT HAPPENED THROUGHOUT HIS CAREER. NOT JUST WEINKE.

GUY TOO BIG TO FAIL WILL GET -- TOO EXPENSIVE TO FAIL.

CURRENT ECONOMIC SITUATION. IT'S A VERY STRANGE WORLD IN THAT RESPECT. EXTREMELY FRUSTRATING TO THE PLAYERS INVOLVED. CHRIS BURKE TOLD ME YOU LOOK AT BASEBALL. PEOPLE SAY LOVE OF THE GAME. PLAYERS, THERE'S A MOVIE VERSION OF LOVE OF THE GAME THEN THERE'S THE PLAYER VERSION.

IT'S REALLY NOT LOVE.

IT'S A LOVE/HATE RELATIONSHIP. WHEN YOU'RE OUT THERE DURING A GAME, YOU UNDERSTAND WHY YOU LOVE THIS GAME. THEN HE SAID, YOU GET OFF THE FIELD AND GO BACK TO BEING TICKED OFF ALL OVER AGAIN BY THE POLITICS, BY THE THINGS THAT STOP MOVING. HAVING SAID THAT, I WANT TO MAKE THIS CLEAR. I TRY TO MAKE IT CLEAR IN THE BOOK. MIKE WAS IN AAA FOR MOST OF HIS CAREER. HE WAS A MINOR LEAGUE TALENT. HE HAD HOLES IN HIS SWING. MOST PEOPLE AGREE THAT HE DEFINITELY DIDN'T GET HIS SHOT. BUT HE WAS SOMEBODY WHO MAYBE WOULD HAVE BEEN A GOOD CONTRIBUTOR OFF THE BENCH, SITUATIONAL HITTER, PINCH HITTER IN THE MAJOR LEAGUE.

VERY VERSATILE.

PLAYED FIRST AND THIRD. BUT THE BIGGEST, HEART BREAK IS FOR EVERYBODY IS THAT HE NEVER GOT HIS OPPORTUNITY. NEVER GOT A CHANCE TO REALLY SHOW OVER TIME WHAT HE COULD DO. THAT IS WHAT WILL TWIST IN THE GUT OF THE COOLBAUGH FAMILY FOREVER.

I THINK MY FAVORITE ASPECT OF THE BOOK IS THE WAY YOU WEAVE THROUGH ALL OF THE MINOR LEAGUE STORIES. THE PRINCIPLE, THE IDEA OF RESPECT FOR THE GAME, IT'S KIND OF THE ETHOS OF PRO BASEBALL. YOUR BEST ANALOGY IS ALL THE HOT DOGGING, SHOW BOATING THAT COMES WITH AN NBA PLAYER, MAY WORK FOR THEM. IF THAT HAPPENED IN BASEBALL IT WOULD BE A CAPITAL OFFENSE. SUCH SORT OF IN MANY WAYS A VERY TRADITIONAL CONSERVATIVE WORLD.

EXTREMELY. BASEBALL ALLOWS A COUPLE PEOPLE TO STEP OUTSIDE. MARK FIDRYCH. THEY LIKE THEIR CHARACTERS. BUT OVERALL, THIS IDEA FOR RESPECT OF THE GAME IS INHERENT IN ALMOST EVERYTHING THAT IS DONE IN BASEBALL AND TAUGHT IN THE MINOR LEAGUES. TAUGHT IS TOO GENERALE A WORD.

ENFORCED.

ONE OF MIKE'S TEAMMATES, WHEN HE DID GET CALLED UP BRIEFLY WITH THE ST. LOUIS CARDINALS FOR FIVE GAMES, WENT UP TO HIM DURING THE GAME. HE WAS PLAYING CENTER FIELD. HE WAS ON THE OPPOSING TEAM. MIKE WAS ON SECOND. HE RAN. DURING THE GAME JUST TO SAY HEY, YOU MADE IT. GREAT, BUDDY. WHEN HE GOT BACK TO THE DOUG OUT HIS TEAMMATES SAID WHAT? YOU DO NOT DO THIS. IT'S THE SAME THING AS SHOWING UP AN OPPONENT. SAME THING, FOR EXAMPLE, A PITCHER TURNING AROUND, PUTTING HIS HANDS UP SAYING HOW COME YOU DIDN'T FIELD THAT BALL.

RIGHT.

THEN THERE'S CODES BETWEEN THE UMPIRES AND PLAYERS. YOU CAN FACE THE PITCHER AND SAY ANYTHING.

SAY ANYTHING TO THE UMPIRE.

AS LONG AS YOU'RE NOT TRYING TO INCITE THE CROWD. THERE'S ALL THESE MINUTE -- IT'S A TESTOSTERONE FILLED WORLD.

IT'S LIKE THE DOUBLE SECRET RULE. LIKE A FRATERNITY.

I WILL SAY, HOWEVER, AND ONE THING THAT INTRIGUED ME. IT'S NOT JUST A STORY ABOUT MIKE, A 17 YEAR LIVER. IT'S A STORY ABOUT TINO SANCHEZ. HE HAD TO LEARN THE CODE OF THE GAME. PART OF WHAT HE HAD TO LEARN WAS THAT TO LOVE THE GAME DESPITE THE KICKS THAT THE GAME GAVE HIM. I REALLY BELIEVE THAT IN MANY WAYS IT'S THE CODE OF THE GAME THAT TAUGHT TINO HOW TO HANDLE THIS SITUATION. HELPED HIM GROW UP. HELPED HIM. IF IT HAD HAPPENED TO TINO EIGHT YEARS PREVIOUS, HE WOULD HAVE BEEN A TERRIBLE PERSON FOR THIS TO HAPPEN TO. I'M NOT SAYING. IT'S GOOD FOR HIM. HE WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN ABLE TO HANDLE IT. NOT ON THAT I WOULD HAVE BEEN FLIP AND PERHAPS DISRESPECTFUL UNINTENTIONALLY TO THE COOLBAUGH FAMILY. TINO WENT THROUGH WHAT MIKE HAD GONE THROUGH. IN GROWING THROUGH THE GAME HE FELT A GREAT ANGUISH. HE REALLY IDENTIFIED WITH MIKE. HE KNEW MIKE WAS WHAT HE WAS GOING TO BE FIVE YEARS DOWN THE LINE. I FEEL LIKE THAT ANGUISH IS TRULY A SIGN OF RESPECT THAT THE CODE OF THE GAME TAUGHT HIM.

YEAH, YEAH. THAT CODE OF THE GAME PART OF MIKE COOLBAUGH'S CHARACTER. DESPITE ALL THE FRUSTRATIONS, DESPITE LOSING THIS CHESS GAME IN SO MANY WAYS, HE WAS A LIVER. HEF COMMITTED. WHILE HE WAS NOT HAPPY OUT OF BASEBALL, SO HAPPY TO GET BACK IN. GETS THE COACHING JOB. THREE WEEKS LATER THIS INCIDENT HAPPENED. THE INCIDENT IN YOUR BOOK TAKES UP MAYBE TEN PAGES OF A 300-PAGE BOOK. THE SETUP IS EVERYTHING. YOU SET IT UP PERFECTLY. THESE TWO CHARACTERS. THIS HORRIBLE PLACE AND TIME. I AGREE WITH YOU WHEN YOU SAY THAT IT'S GREAT THAT THERE'S NO FILM OF THIS HORRIBLE THING. IT'S JUST NOT INTERNET FODDER. AS I SAID, NOT A BIG PART OF THE BOOK, BUT WHAT IT ALL TURNS ON

THE THING IS, WHAT WAS INTERESTING TO ME ABOUT THE ACCIDENT, ASIDE FROM THE OBVIOUSLY CAR CRASH ELEMENT WHICH IS THAT SOMETHING BAD HAPPENED. YOU CAN'T TAKE YOUR EYES AWAY FROM IT. WERE THE PEOPLE IN THE BALL PARK THAT NIGHT, HOW MANY OF THEM HAD SOME SORT OF INCIDENT OR CONNECTION TO DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY THE DAMAGE BASEBALL CAN DO. OBVIOUSLY BO MCLAUGHLIN HAD HIS CAREER ENDED BY HAROLD BAINES DRIVE UP THE MIDDLE OF THE PITCHER'S MOUND. JON ASAHINA HAD HIS SKULL FRACTURED BY A BATTED BALL ON THE SAME FIELD. BILL VALENTINE. AND HE WAS THE GENERAL MANAGER, VP OF THE TRAVELLERS, HAD BEEN BEHIND THE PLATE WHEN TONY CONIGLIARO HAD BEEN BEANED. WARREN STEE FENS, THE PERSON WHO FINANCED THE PARK, HIS FATHER HAD HAD HIS BASEBALL CAREER ENDED. THERE'S -- LOOK, TINO ALSO HIT CLINT HURDLE IN THE FACE WITH A POP FLY A FEW YEARS PREVIOUSLY. ROCKIES MANAGER. AND MIKE HIMSELF A FEW MONTHS BEFORE, AS HE'S GETTING READY FOR HIS LAST GIG, HITS HIS BEST FRIEND IN THE HEAD WHILE THEY'RE DOING BATTING PRACTICE. THIS EXTRAORDINARY MOUND. IT'S VERY EASY AN UNDERSTANDABLE AS A WRITER. I THINK MY GOSH, ALL THESE STRANGE THINGS LED TO THIS MOMENT. THESE PEOPLE WERE HERE. BUT AT THE SAME TIME, MY RESEARCH AS I DID THE RESEARCH, IT BECOMES A LITTLE LESS SPOOKY WHEN YOU UNDERSTAND HOW OFTEN THIS HAPPENS IN BASEBALL. LAST WEEK JOE MARTINEZ HAD HIS FACE, THREE HAIRLINE FRACTURES IN HIS FACE FROM A BATTED BALL. THIS KIND OF DAMAGE IS REALLY QUITE COMMON. AND IT'S SCARY.

I GUESS TO PLAYERS WHAT'S NOT COMMON. A PLAYER HAD NOT DIED INVOLVED SINCE -- FOR 80 YEARS.

RAY CHAPMAN WAS A PITCH SPOTTER. BUT NO PRO PLAYER. STILL NO PRO PLAYER HAS NEVER DIED FROM A BATTED BALL. AMATEUR PLAYERS HAVE. AND MIKE, OF COURSE, WAS A COACH. THERE WAS A FAN THAT WAS KILLED BY A MANNY MOTA FOUL BALL. IT'S EXTRAORDINARY. WHERE PITCHERS END UP. THERE ARE ONLY ABOUT 45 FEET AWAY FROM THE PLATE AT THE END OF THE DELIVERY. IT REALLY IS EXTRAORDINARY THAT IT HASN'T HAPPENED YET. BECAUSE -- THERE'S A LOT OF ACCIDENTS OUT THERE.

FOR SOMEONE TO DIE INSTANTLY AS MIKE COOLBAUGH DID IS SO WILDLY IMPROBABLE. THE BALL HAD TO HIT -- THIS IS NOT A CAUTIONARY TALE. WHY DID THIS HAPPEN TO HIS BEAUTIFUL FAMILY AND EVERYTHING LIKE THAT. THE OTHER ASPECT, LOTS OF FANS HURT THROUGH THE YEARS? YOU GO INTO STATISTICS OF INJURIES AND DEATH ON THE BASEBALL FIELD, SEMIPRO, PRO BASEBALL. IT'S VERY SCARY.

THE PLAYERS AND THE COACHES, THEIR JOB IS TO STARE AT THE BASEBALL THROUGHOUT THE GAME. THEY ARE INTENTLY FOCUSED ON IT. WHAT THEIR BIGGEST FEAR IS IS FAN. OH, MAN, I HAVE PLAYERS TELLING ME -- THESE ARE NOT PLAYERS WHO SIT AROUND THINKING ABOUT FANS. THEY'VE SEEN SO MANY BAD ACCIDENTS INVOLVING FANS IN THE STANDS WHO ARE NOT PAYING ATTENTION, WHO ARE EATING POPCORN. LOOK, IT'S UNDERSTANDABLE. 3 1/2 HOURS IN A BALL PARK. THESE ARE PEOPLE WHO ARE JUST LOOKING AROUND. STORY AFTER STORY TOLD MANY ME ABOUT FANS WHO HAD BEEN SUFFERED SERIOUS DAMAGE FROM A FOUL BALL. THERE AREN'T THE SCREENS SET UP LIKE THEY ARE IN JAPAN.

THEY GO ALL THE WAY DOWN PAST THE DUGOUT.

AS A RESULT, YOU GOT TO PAY ATTENTION.

MANNY COOLBAUGH A BIG CHARACTER IN THE STORY. BASEBALL DID NOT FORGET HER AND HER YOUNG FAMILY. ROCKIES ORGANIZATION IS EXTRAORDINARILY KIND.

LOOK, BASEBALL PLAYERS ARE KNOWN AS BEING EXTREMELY STINGY.

SHORT PERIOD TO MAKE A LOT OF MONEY.

THE STORIES ARE LEGION ABOUT PLAYERS WHO MAYBE HELP A WORLD SERIES COME ON MIDSEASON, HELP A TEAM WIN A WORLD SERIES AND DON'T GET VOTED A PLAYOFF SHARE. THE ROCKIES TO DO WHAT THEY DID WAS AN EXTRAORDINARY ACT. MIKE WAS ON WITH THE ORGANIZATION THREE WEEKS. HE DIDN'T KNOW MANY OF THE PLAYERS. HE KNEW ONE OR TWO. BUT OVERALL, THEY JUST -- I HONESTLY BELIEVE THAT, LET ME JUST STEP BACK. EVERYBODY ACTED INCREDIBLY WELL IN THIS SITUATION. THE FANS RAISED A LOT OF MONEY THROUGHOUT BASEBALL. ESPECIALLY THROUGHOUT THE TEXAS LEAGUE.

IN EXCESS OF $100,000.

170 I BELIEVE.

OVER TO OUR 30,000, THE WORLD SERIES SHARE, LOST THE WORLD SERIES SHARE. COULD HAVE BEEN UPWARDS OF $300,000 IF THEY HAD WON. BUT EVERYBODY REALLY JUST WAS VERY STANDUP. VERY QUIET WAY. THAT WAS ALSO SOMETHING THAT ATTRACTED ME. NOBODY WAS BEATING THEIR CHEST SAYING WE DID THIS FOR MIKE OR HIS FAMILY OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT. ROCKIES REFUSED TO TALK ABOUT WHAT THEY HAD DONE. THEY DID NOT TELL THE PRESS ABOUT IT. IT SORT OF LEAKED OUT A LITTLE BIT. BUT NO ONE WANTED TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY.

AGENTS AND UN I DON'T UNDERSTAND. SURE IT WAS NOT THE EASEIEST THING IN THE WORLD.

THEY REALLY WENT OUT OF THEIR WAY TO DO IT. I REALLY BELIEVE PART OF IT WAS THE TRAGEDY IS COMPELLING AND THE FACT THAT HE HAD TWO CHILDREN AND ANOTHER ON THE WAY TOUCHED EVERYBODY. BUT I THINK IT CAME DOWN TO THE FACT THAT THE PLAYERS AND THE FANS, BUT ESPECIALLY THE PLAYERS, LOOK, WOE COULD HAVE BEEN MIKE COOLBAUGH. IF WE COULDN'T HAVE BEEN HIM -- EVEN THE MOST TALENTED KNOW ALL OF THE THINGS THAT CUT SHORT HIS CHANCES TO GET BACK TO THE MAJOR LEAGUES. THERE ARE ACCIDENTS THAT COULD HAPPEN TO ME AN MY CAREER THAT COULD HAVE BEEN THERE. IF THEY DIDN'T THINK OF IT THAT WAY, THEY CERTAINLY KNEW SOMEBODY LIKE MIKE COOLBAUGH. I THINK WE ALL KNOW SOMEBODY LIKE MIKE COOLBAUGH.

SUCH A GREAT STORY. WE HAVE A LITTLE TRADITION ON THE SHOW THAT WE HAVE THE AUTHOR READ A LITTLE BIT OF THE BOOK. I PICKED UP A PASSAGE.

I'LL TAKE IT.

IF YOU COULD START AND FINISH THIS PARAGRAPH STARTING WITH MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL THAT GOES ON TO THE NEXT PAGE.

OKAY. MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL ALSO SELLS ITSELF AS A PLACE WHERE MAJOR LEAGUE DREAMS ARE BORN, THE PLACE TO SEE STARS BEFORE THEY GET TOO BIG AN LEAVE AND AS A MARKETING PLAY, IT'S THE ON ONE TO MAKE. YOU ALWAYS WANT TO FLATTER YOUR AUDIENCE. IT'S NEVER BAD TO REINFORCE THE HOOK THAT, LIKE THOSE BALL PLAYERS, WE'RE ALL JUST PUNCHING OUR TICKETS HERE. WE ALL CAN MOVE UP AND OUT OF THIS SMALL TOWN SOME DAY. WE ALL HAVE ROOTS BUT ARE CAPABLE OF LEAVING THEM BEHIND. TRUTH WOULDN'T SELL NEARLY AS WELL. THE FACT IS, FROM THE PLAYER'S PERSPECTIVE THERE'S NOTHING CASUAL OR FORGETTABLE ABOUT ANY GAME IN THE MINE NO, SIR. EVERY PITCH AN EVERY PLAY IS TO AT LEAST ONE MAN THERE, LOADED WITH SIGNIFICANTANCE. THE PRESSURE TO PERFORM IS CRUSHINGLY HEAVY. FINANCIAL CUSHION NONEXISTENT. LINE BETWEEN HAVES AND HAVE NOTS VIVIDLY PRONOUNCED. MAYBE TWO OR THREE OF THE PLAYERS YOU SAW HAVE A CHANCE AT PLAYING IN THE MAJOR LESION. REST, NO MATTER HOW THEY PERFORM ARE LEARNING, MAYBE EEFREN TONIGHT, THAT THIS YEAR OR NEXT YEAR OR THE YEAR AFTER THEY'LL BE GOING BACK TO THEIR OWN HOME TOWNS AND HUM DRUM JOBS FOR GOOD.

GOOD. HEART OF THE GAME IS THE NAME OF THE BOOK. SCOTT PRICE WE WANT TO THANK YOU. ARKANSAS LITERARY FESTIVAL WHO IS PARTIALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR SCOTT BEING HERE. THANK YOU VERY MUCH. BEST WISHES ON THE BOOK, WHICH COMES OUT IN MAY. MAY BE SEEING THIS AFTER THAT TIME. DEFINITELY WORTH CHECKING IT OUT. THANK YOU FOR JOINING US ON "ON THE SAME PAGE."

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