Coolbaugh's death prompts MLB to adopt helmets for base coaches

Updated: November 8, 2007, 10:48 PM ET
Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Baseball wants to prevent another tragic accident like the one that killed Mike Coolbaugh.

General managers decided Thursday that first- and third-base coaches will wear some sort of head protection next season, a move that came four months after Coolbaugh was struck in the neck by a line drive during a minor league game.

Coolbaugh, a former major league player, was a coach for the Colorado Rockies' Double-A team in Tulsa when he died July 22. He had been hit by a liner as he stood in the first-base coach's box during a Texas League game at Arkansas.

Some major league coaches responded by wearing helmets the rest of the season.

"There was a sentiment that as a concept this was a good idea," said Joe Garagiola Jr., senior vice president for baseball operations in the commissioner's office.

GMs will decide on the exact form of protection when they meet next month at the winter meetings.

"We're going to come back in Nashville with some options: liners, hard caps, helmets without flaps, helmets with flaps," Garagiola said.

Larry Bowa, the Los Angeles Dodgers' new third-base coach, understands the decision and already has a preference for headgear.

"They're just trying to take safety measures," Bowa said. "I prefer to wear an insert. With an ear flap, I would definitely think it would be a hindrance, it would get in the way."

While no formal vote was taken, Garagiola said the thinking of the GMs was clear.

"Everybody just felt it was a situation that made sense," Detroit Tigers president Dave Dombrowski said.

Many batters started wearing helmets after Ray Chapman, a shortstop for the Cleveland Indians, was killed when he was hit by a pitch during a game in 1920. A rule requiring helmets for batters was adopted in 1971.

"If you think about the evolution of the batting helmet, unfortunately what ended up happening this year is essentially what happened with Ray Chapman," Oakland general manager Billy Beane said. "I think we need to come up with a recommendation."

Garagiola said the recommendation adopted by the GMs next month will not need additional approvals.

Coolbaugh's widow, Amanda, gave birth to his daughter, Anne Michael, on Friday in San Antonio, the Drillers said.

Rockies players voted Amanda Coolbaugh a full postseason share last month. The couple's two sons, 5-year-old Joseph and 3-year-old Jacob, threw out ceremonial first pitches before Game 3 of Colorado's first-round playoff series against Philadelphia.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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