The 33-Year-Old Rookie

The 33-Year-Old Rookie

How I Finally Made it to the Big Leagues After Eleven Years in the Minors

By Chris Coste

Ballantine Books, Hardcover, 9781400066865, 224pp.

Publication Date: March 18, 2008


Chris Coste dreamed of playing major-league baseball from the age of seven. But after eleven grueling years in the minors, a spot on a major-league roster still seemed just out of his reach–until that fateful call came from the Philadelphia Phillies in May 2006. At age thirty-three (“going on eighty”), Coste was finally heading to the big time.

The 33-Year-Old Rookie is like a real-life Rocky, an unforgettable and inspirational story of one man’s unwavering pursuit of a lifelong goal. Beginning in a single-parent home in Fargo, North Dakota, and ending behind home plate on the flawless diamond of the Phillies’ Citizens Bank Park–where fans and teammates call him “Chris Clutch” because of his knack for getting timely hits–this intimate account of Coste’s baseball odyssey is a powerful story of determination, perseverance, and passion.

For eleven seasons, Coste hustled, fought, and gritted his way to his breakthrough–and never lost faith in his abilities. Along the way, he gained the affection and admiration of baseball fans from Ottawa and Scranton to various Mexican and Venezuelan cities. Battered by years spent behind a catcher’s mask, and faced with bracing realities–there were bills to pay, and his young daughter was entering first grade–Coste decided to give it one last shot in 2006. But that year, during the Phillies’ major-league spring training, Coste was demoted to the minors at the last minute to make room for a utility outfielder, despite having hit a blistering .463 and earning the trust of the team’s pitchers. Later that season, though, Coste finally got the call-up, and he hit .364 during the Phillies’ furious battle to nail down the final postseason berth.

Coste takes us through the 2006 spring training season–with its pulse-quickening moments and close calls–and into his first season as a major-league catcher with the Phillies. From tense stretch-run games that kept Phillies’ fans on the edge of their seats to moments of intimate personal reflection, Coste’s saga offers baseball aficionados an inside look at a remarkable life and career. In this stirring, wry, and candid look at the life of a professional baseball nomad who never surrendered his dream, we savor the sometimes bittersweet fruits of victory against seemingly insurmountable odds.

About the Author

Chris Coste was an All-American at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, and played five seasons in various independent leagues before finally getting a shot with the Cleveland Indians’ organization in 2000. From there, he moved to the minor league systems of the Boston Red Sox, Milwaukee Brewers, and Philadelphia Phillies. Coste was awarded the 2006 Dallas Green Award for Special Achievement and the 2007 Media Good Guy Award in the Philadelphia area. He lives in Fargo, North Dakota, with his wife, Marcia, and their daughter, Casey.

Praise For The 33-Year-Old Rookie

Advance praise for The 33-Year-Old Rookie

“Anyone who has played in the minors can respect what Chris went through to reach his goal. He endured eleven minor league seasons and should be applauded for never giving up. We have all fought through difficulties to achieve our dreams and Chris’s story speaks volumes about determination, drive, and perseverance.”
–Cal Ripken, Jr., baseball’s all-time “Iron Man”

“What amazes me most about Chris Coste’s unlikely career is that he did it playing the hardest position on the field, enduring the daily barrage of nicks, bruises, and head-on collisions that are the life of a catcher. The 33-Year-Old Rookie is a great story of a man’s triumph over adversity, but it’s also a fascinating account of the view from behind home plate.”
–Tim McCarver, broadcaster, Fox Sports

“The 33-Year-Old Rookie is the best of Rocky, Rudy, and The Rookie–it brought out all the emotions . . . especially when Chris made the team, and the tears started flowing. If you have an impossible dream, and want to see a man and family who paid the price to make theirs come true, you have to read this book.”
–Vince Papale, subject of the Disney movie Invincible

“Chris Coste’s story inspires us because he is a man driven not only by his loyalty to team over self, but also by his love for his family, strong morals, and passion for the great game of baseball. The 33-Year-Old Rookie will remind everyone who’s ever had a dream to keep fighting for it.”
–Mike Schmidt, Hall of Fame third baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies

“Chris Coste is the epitome of the phrase ‘never give up hope.’ His dream was to be a major-league baseball player, and at the age of thirty-three, Chris not only reached the majors but showed that he belonged.”
–Harry Kalas, Hall of Fame broadcaster for the Philadelphia Phillies