What happened to the Phillies championship, folk hero catcher Chris Coste?
MLB franchises like the Phillies are constantly searching for the next young superstar. Top prospects are the shiny new toys that every ball club salivates over.
What about the “other guys”? I’m talking about the 20th round pitcher who had a great college career but throws low 90’s. The undrafted position player that never got the proper exposure in front of pro scouts.
Being a minor league journeyman isn’t for everyone. It takes a mental toll on players aspiring to reach the highest level. Ask any major leaguer and they will tell you about the grind and constantly second-guessing themselves as they climbed the minor league ladder. Not to mention the lack of pay.
Former Phillies catcher Chris Coste has one heck of a story. The persistence throughout his journey has been admirable.
Born in Fargo, North Dakota, Coste made a name for himself at Concordia College, a Division III college in Moorehead, Minnesota. He became a three-time All-American as a pitcher and third baseman. To this day, Coste still holds school records for career batting average and pitching ERA.
Coste wasn’t drafted out of college. Most College Division III players don’t get the opportunity to display their talent in front of top level Major League scouts. That didn’t stop him from pursuing his dream as he played Independent pro baseball from 1995 to 1999.
From 2000 to 2007, Coste got his chance to play minor league baseball for MLB affiliated clubs. Coste slashed .286/.340/.421 with an OPS of .761 in the minors. There was never any doubt he could provide value with the bat while converting to catcher.
After spending 11 total years in a variety of minor league levels, the 6-foot-1, 200 pounder made his major league debut with the Philadelphia Phillies at catcher on May 26, 2006. At the ripe old age of 33, Coste had reached the pinnacle.
The native North Dakotan enjoyed success with the Phillies and he was a fan favorite who helped kickstart the Phils’ golden era of 2007-2011.
In his four seasons with the Phillies, Coste hit 23 home runs with 108 RBI, while batting .272 in 703 at-bats. He provided an offensive boost at the catcher position as a young Carlos Ruiz hadn’t yet found his rhythm with the bat.
Here’s a tidbit that all Phils fans can appreciate: He raked against Atlanta. In 27 games vs the Braves, he posted a line of .351/.383/.532 which resulted in a .915 OPS. Coste was also known to be a thorn in the side for the New York Mets, picking up four hits off the bench (including a 13th inning walk-off hit) on Aug. 26, 2008.
What’s the former World Champion up to these days?
After spending time in the Comcast SportsNet studio with the Phillies as the pre-game and post-game analyst, Coste is now coaching the game he loves. He is back at his alma mater, Concordia College, entering his sixth season as the head baseball coach.
Coste has won over 100 games since he’s taken over as the skipper.
His baseball career doesn’t stop there. He’s also the bench coach for the Fargo Moorehead Hawks, one of his former Independent league teams.
Coste has written two books about his playing days. He wrote his first book while playing in 1997 called, “Hey… I’m just a catcher”. This autobiography captures the grind of playing independent professional baseball. Something Coste became far too familiar with in the late 90s.
In 2008, Coste went on to publish another book titled, “The 33 Year Old Rookie”, which contains a foreword by former Philadelphia Phillie, John Kruk. The book covers Coste’s 11 year minor league career as well as his 2008 championship season with the Phillies.
Any readers in the movie business? Because this is a story I would love to see put to film; another hard worker with humble beginnings making it big.