DENVER -- Joseph Coolbaugh, 5 years old, said he was going to throw a fastball. Jacob Coolbaugh, 4, said he was going with the curveball. Former Rockies Minor League coach Mike Coolbaugh's two sons threw out the first pitch at Saturday's Game 3 of the National League Division Series in front of a soldout Coors Field, which gave the boys a standing ovation as their father was remembered. Mike Coolbaugh died July 22, when he was coaching first base and struck in the left temple by a foul ball in the ninth inning of a Double-A Tulsa Drillers game in Arkansas. Mike had been hired 19 days earlier as the Drillers' hitting coach and first-base coach after a 16-year playing career.
Since Coolbaugh's death, the Rockies have gone out of their way to help the Coolbaugh family, including the players voting to donate a full playoff share to the family and Matt Holliday donating the $7,500 from his Roberte Clemente Award nomination to the Mike Coolbaugh Memorial Fund. "I can't say enough about the Rockies organization," said Scott Coolbaugh, Mike's brother, who escorted the two boys Saturday. "They've been tremendous through the whole ordeal, nothing but supportive to my brother's wife, Mandy, and the two boys. Can't say enough -- they've taken them in as a family in a short period of time, and that's very unusual. ... I can't thank them enough." Mike retired as a player following the 2006 season and decided to get back into baseball this summer as a coach. "Baseball has always been our lives," said Scott Coolbaugh, a former third-round Draft pick of the Rangers who spent four seasons in the Major Leagues. "Since the time I've been 8 years old, we've tried to get as far as we could into the game. Sometimes it doesn't work out for all of us, but he and I both made it to the Major Leagues as players, and it got to a time in our careers where we had to make a transition. [Rockies director of player development] Marc Gustafson offered him the position at Tulsa, and [Mike] was excited about it, and I think it showed early on. The players responded to some of the things that he had to offer, and I think he would have been a really good coach. He started to fill into that role awful quickly." Mike Coolbaugh made it to the big leagues as a player twice, and his boys made their debut Saturday night, delivering two strikes to Rockies pitchers Jeff Francis and Jason Hirsh, and some teardrops among those assembled. "He didn't live for baseball," Scott Coolbaugh said. "He lived for his boys."
C.J. Moore is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.