Mike Coolbaugh’s Legacy Lives on Through Diamond Dreams
Five years ago today, the baseball community lost Mike Coolbaugh, the brother of Rangers’ hitting coach and former RoughRiders’ hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh. Mike Coolbaugh passed away after being hit with a line drive while coaching first base for the Tulsa Drillers during a game against the Arkansas Travelers. Frisco coach and Diamond Dreams board member James Vilade was on staff with Scott in 2007 and remembers getting the news.
“I remember getting a phone call from our hitting coordinator that it had happened and then talked with Scott. It was devastating for the family especially a tragedy on the baseball field,” Vilade said. “It was a tragedy in baseball, one of the worst tragedies in the history of the game.”
The accident raised awareness of baseball safety and the MLB instituted a rule where are base coaches were required to wear helmets as of the 2008 season. The Coolbaugh’s also wanted to continue Mike’s legacy while promoting baseball safety which is how Mike Coolbaugh’s Diamond Dreams came into being. The foundation was founded in 2009 and has since grown reaching out to the baseball community in multiple ways.
“One of the big projects we have going on right now is improving the batting cages over at Grapevine High School. Grapevine is where Chris Gavora was killed in 2007. That’s been one of our main focuses in Diamond Dreams is to raise funds and help get that project underway,” Vilade said. “We have an annual bowling event that we do to raise money for our scholarship fund. We have a scholarship fund that supports a graduating senior from Roosevelt High School.”
Diamond Dreams also reaches out to families that experience baseball tragedies.
“One thing we try to do is to help embrace and comfort families that suffer a loss in the game whether it’s the Shannon Stone memorial fund, Shannon was tragically killed at the Ballpark in Arlington, or whether it’s a local situation,” Vilade said. “A few weeks ago we had the Mauppin family out here (Dr Pepper Ballpark). Bruce and Bonnie lost their daughter to cancer in February so we just try to show people that the baseball community is a strong community. We’re all in it together. We’re all working towards being the best that we can be as keepers of the game.”
Viilade said the foundation has grown over the past two years.
“Thanks to a lot of great baseball people out there, we’ve been able to advance our scholarship fund. We’ve been able to embrace a few more situations in the community that need assistance,” Vilade said. “We’ve got an awareness of needs that we try to pay attention to what’s going on in the baseball community and our drive is to help take care of the baseball and as Susan Coolbaugh would say baseball never forgets their own.”
Diamond Dreams has partnered with Jamey Newberg of The Newberg Report for Newberg Report Night with all of the proceeds from that event going to Diamond Dreams. Diamond Dreams has several projects in the works that will be announced around August 1. For more information about the foundation, go to www.diamonddreams.org. With all of the support from the baseball community, the future looks bright for Diamond Dreams.
Written By: Jarah Wright