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Minor league coach, who once played for Cardinals, killed by line drive

By AP/KWMU

North Little Rock, Ark. – A minor league baseball coach who was struck in the head by a line drive in Little Rock died Sunday night.

Mike Coolbaugh was coaching first base for the Double-A Tulsa Drillers when he was hit in the head by a foul ball in a game with the Arkansas Travelers. Coolbaugh played five games for the Cardinals in 2002. He had one hit in 12 at bats, and also played 39 games for Milwaukee in 2001.

The game was suspended in the ninth inning after Coolbaugh was struck by a hard-hit foul ball off the bat of Tino Sanchez and taken to Baptist Medical Center-North Little Rock.

Travelers spokesman Phil Elson said Coolbaugh was hit on the right side of his head or on the forehead -- "I'm getting conflicting reports," he said -- and fell to the ground immediately.

According to a report posted on the Drillers' Web site late Sunday, Coolbaugh was knocked unconscious and CPR was administered to him on the field.

Sgt. Terry Kuykendall, spokesman for North Little Rock police, said Coolbaugh was still alive when he was put in an ambulance, but stopped breathing as the ambulance arrived at the hospital.

"They tried to resuscitate him, but he was pronounced dead at 9:47 p.m.," Kuykendall said.

The Drillers' Web site said Coolbaugh, 35, joined the Tulsa staff on July 3 as a batting coach. He played for the team briefly in 1996. Tulsa is a Colorado Rockies affiliate.

A native of Binghamton, N.Y., Coolbaugh went to high school in San Antonio and was drafted in 1990 by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 16th round.

He played third base and bounced around the minors for a decade, before making his major league debut with the Brewers in 2001. He played five more big league games for the Cardinals in 2002. He hit two home runs in 70 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.

The Travelers, an Angels affiliate, led 7-3 at the time the game was suspended with no outs and a runner on first in the top of the ninth inning. Officials said a date and time for finishing the game had not yet been chosen.

Coolbaugh is survived by his wife, Mandy, and two young sons, Joseph and Jacob. Mandy Coolbaugh is expecting another child in October.

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