Mike Coolbaugh was born on June 5, 1972 in Binghamton, New York. An accomplished athlete in high school, Mike was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 1990, where he followed his older brother Scott’s footsteps into professional baseball. After several 11 seasons in the minor leagues, Mike made his major league debut in 2001 with the Milwaukee Brewers and spent part of 2002 with the St. Louis Cardinals. After retiring as a player in 2006, Mike dedicated his career to sharing his knowledge and passion for baseball through coaching. Although Mike made an impression on the lives of many people through baseball, he was most proud of his family: his wife, Mandy, and their two sons. Mike made many friends throughout his minor league travels, and he was respected by all who knew him for his character, professionalism, and dedication to his family.
On July 22, 2007, while coaching first base for the Tulsa Drillers in the AA Texas League, Mike was struck by a line drive in foul territory and killed instantly. Since that moment, the lives of those who knew and loved Mike have been forever changed.
Not long after Mike’s death, Mandy gave birth to the couple’s daughter. The baseball community rallied around the Coolbaugh family and helped raise money for Mandy and the children. The Colorado Rockies, the parent club of the Tulsa team for whom Mike was coaching, voted Mandy and the kids a full playoff share after their trip to the World Series in the fall of 2007. And, in an effort to ensure that there would be no more similar tragedies, Major League Baseball implemented a new rule before the 2008 season, mandating that all base coaches wear head protection while on the field. Minor league baseball and amateur baseball have followed suit with similar requirements.
To honor Mike and his contributions to baseball, and to advance Mike’s passion for perpetuating the game and helping others, Scott and Susan Coolbaugh (Mike’s brother and sister-in-law) started Diamond Dreams in 2009. Since that time, Diamond Dreams has assisted people involved in baseball that have experienced similar losses and identified and raised money for causes that Mike would have wanted to be a part of.