SI, SEPT. 24
On Oct. 1, Mandy Coolbaugh—whose husband, Mike, the first base coach for theTulsa Drillers, died at age 35 after he was struck by a foul ball on July22—began rooting for the Colorado Rockies in earnest. The organization (Tulsais one of its minor league affiliates) sent word that Mandy and Mike's sons,Joey, 5, and Jake, 4, would be invited to throw out the ceremonial first pitchof the team's first home game if it made the playoffs. The boys (below) lovedgoing to the ballpark with their dad. "They lived for that," Mandysaid.
When the Rockiesqualified, the game that had taken so much from the Coolbaughs began to giveback. Then it gave a bit more: The Colorado players voted Coolbaugh's family afull playoff share—sure to be more than $120,000—even though Mike (inset) hadbeen with the organization less than three weeks. "Mike would be sohonored," Mandy said. "It shows such great generosity."
On Saturday theboys, wearing Mike's number 29 and accompanied by his brother Scott, made thepitches. Mandy, eight months pregnant, stayed home. "I'm still having ahard time," she said. "At nights I wait for the phone to ring, thinkinghe'll call. People doing things like the playoff share gives hope. It keepsMike alive to me."