Mike Coolbaugh played in nearly 1,700 Minor League games, and 44 Major League games, before becoming a coach. Coolbaugh was thirty-five years old and coaching first base for the Rockies Double-A Tulsa affiliate when he was killed after being hit in the neck by a line drive in a game at Arkansas on July 22, 2007.
Bob Jones, the first receipient of the Mike Coolbaugh Award, said in the MiLB Press Release, "I am so proud and honored to be the first recipient of the Mike Coolbaugh Award. This is very special to me. Mike was a great guy, devoted to baseball and his family. I feel very lucky to have known him and had him play for me on one of my clubs. I am extremely proud to accept this prestigious award named in his honor."
Did you know that General Managers decided on November 7, 2007, that first- and third-base coaches would wear some sort of head protection in 2008, a move that came four months after Coolbaugh was struck in the neck by a line drive during a Minor League game?