Heart of the Game
Life, Death, and Mercy in Minor League America
By S.l. Price
(Ecco, Hardcover, 9780061671302, 320pp.)
Publication Date: May 2009
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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From the author of Pitching Around Fidel and Far Afield comes an account of the accidental death of minor league first base coach Mike Coolbaugh, illustrating the many ways in which baseball still has a hold on America.
Heart of the Game centers on the death of Mike Coolbaugh, a minor league coach who was killed on a sweltering Sunday evening in Little Rock in July 2007 when a foul ball rocketed off Tino Sanchez's bat. Coolbaugh died almost instantly, his body carted off the field of the Double-A Arkansas Travelers. He was thirty-five years old and the father of two; a third child was on the way.
Mike's exemplary life—his devotion to the game and to his family—is the spine of the story. But it isn't the drama. The drama is in the telling of what can happen when a projectile hits the human body, of the narratives of the remarkable people who happened to be in the ballpark at that fatal moment, of the impact of Coolbaugh's death on the man who hit the ball, and of all the lives left behind.
Price reveals anew that classic heart of Americana—small-town sports, small-town lives—and makes us understand that a game played away from the mindless churn of Internet blather and highlight shows can be more important than those played on the national stage.
S. L. Price, a senior writer at Sports Illustrated since 1994, has written two other books—Pitching Around Fidel, which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and Far Afield, which Esquire named one of the top five books of 2007. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his family.
“I was reminded, as I read HEART OF THE GAME, what baseball has meant to me. The story of Mike Coolbaugh’s life and death will break your heart – and you won’t ever look at the game in quite the same way.”
“A superb storyteller. . . . S. L. Price has done a masterful job.”
“Price brilliantly takes the reader through life in the minors, and as such it is also a portrait of small-town America. . . . Heart of the Game is a piece of literary excellence.”
-Trenton NJ Times
“S.L. Price’s work, “Heart of the Game: Life, Death, and Mercy in Minor League America” is more than just another baseball book being released. It’s a legacy, an heirloom that can be handed from a father no longer here to his children.”
“S.L. Price has become a powerful force in giving readers a front-row seat to the spectacular. Through his unique gifts of observation and prose, the veteran journalist has painted compelling portraits of the special people, places and moments that define the games we play and watch.”
-San Antonio Express-News
“It’s a story of hard luck in a hard game but, in the lives of two minor leaguers, Scott Price reveals the code of baseball. This is one of the baseball books that will endure as long as the game is played.”
-Richard Ben Cramer, author of "Joe Dimaggio: The Hero's Life"
“[A] superbly written book . . . a story that’s both heartbreaking and uplifting, much like baseball itself.”
“Hear the heartbeat of America and feel its breath in this beautifully-told tale of love, fate, and forgiveness. The best sports book I’ve read in many seasons.”
-Robert Lipsyte, former New York Times sports columnist
“The best baseball book I have ever read...Dazzling...a welcome antidote to the poisonous steroid sleaze that hogs the headlines and crams the bookshelves...If you read only one baseball book this year, make it ‘Heart of the Game.’”
-Stan Hochman, Philadelphia Daily News
“[V]eteran Sports Illustrated writer S.L. Price weaves his magic. Genuine and raw, Heart of the Game is a heartfelt work of despair, triumph, and redemption.”