When I opened up the box of books that came in the mail from my friend @kayakgal, I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the book on the very top. I never saw the title-my focus was immediately on the cover photo: a view from behind of a man holding two small boys, his jersey said "Coolbaugh." I froze. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. @kayakgal knows I'm a baseball fan, but I don't think there was any way for her to know that I was once a season ticket holder for a Texas League team in Wichita, Kansas or that I knew exactly who this story was about and the tragedy that befell him and his family. I had no idea that a book had been written about him, so I was absolutely stunned to have received it.
"Heart of the Game" follows two "lifers" in baseball: Mike Coolbaugh and Tino Sanchez. Their paths became forever entwined on July 22, 2007 when Tino hit a foul ball that struck Mike in the neck, killing him almost instantly. On that day, Mike was coaching and Tino was playing for the Tulsa Drillers, a Texas league team and AA affiliate of the Colorado Rockies.
Each chapter discusses first Mike, then Tino. The reader learns about their youth, their road to professional baseball and about their lives outside of baseball. The book gives an inside glimpse into the world of baseball and what it's like for most of the men who play it, like Mike and Tino. Along with telling about the ups and downs of a lifer's career, some eerie coincidences are revealed.
If you are a baseball fan, especially a minor league fan, this is a great book to read. It has it's happy moments, but it is a melancholy tale of what life is really like when you're trying to break into the majors or fighting to stay there. I feel like by reading it I was let into a secret club where I got to know what is really happening on the field when I'm cheering on my favorite team.