Chris Coste remembers the good times he had when he played in the State Tournament in the early 90s. That was before he was a three-time MIAC Most Valuable Player, minor leaguer, an author (The 33 Year Old Rookie) and backup catcher for the Philadelphia Phillies as they won the World Series in 2008.
“I played amateur ball in Glyndon. We had a phenomenal team in 1994 like 38-4 but we were class C and we faced one good pitcher and got knocked out. It was here (Hutchinson). I have yet to win a game in this ballpark,” said Coste.
That’s because his Moorhead Brewers’ team had just fallen to Grant Larson and the Burnsville Bobcats 2-1 in 10 innings. Moorhead could only manage two hits in the game against Larson. Coste, 38, caught the whole game and got plunked solidly in the back his last time up.
“This has been a lot of fun—we qualified to get here and the thing is I’m good for about two days and then I need about five days off,” said Coste. “I had fully intended to play independent ball and see if I could get back somehow to triple A and see where that would lead, but the first day I played I strained a hamstring and then when that got better I pulled a quad. The body just wasn’t ready to play. I knew retirement day would be a tough day, but I knew my body would tell me and it certainly has.”
After the 2008 season Coste had a stint in Houston. In 2010 he was in spring training with the Mets and got sent to the Nationals. His first day with the Nationals he threw a ball down to second and his elbow popped. He had Tommy John surgery in May of that year. Now he is playing again, only not at the level he had hoped.
So how does he feel about playing Minnesota Amateur baseball? “As we all know, Minnesota amateur baseball is like a very unique and special thing,” said Coste. “This has been a lot of fun. Last night we got here about seven, we drove over to Glencoe and watched some of that game. It’s just the people walking in and out, the smoke from the grill and the smell, I remember ‘92 to ‘94 playing in the tournament and then when it ended, going back to Concordia and playing fall ball, it was such a letdown. You get to the height of this and it’s an incredible environment.”
Coste also has a job that takes a lot of his time. “I do pre and post-game TV for the Phillies for like one week a month, kind of like Ron Coomer,” he said. “So I go to Philadelphia for eight to ten days a month. That is my part time job so I’m going to see where that leads.”
He is also going to be an assistant coach for Concordia College (his alma mater) this Spring. He and Bucky Burgau, Concordia College-Moorhead head coach, have had several talks and Chris says that Concordia could be a very real possibility for the future. “I always thought I’d go into managing in the minor leagues, it seemed to be my destiny,” explained Chris. “I played all over the world, I’ve played every position, being a catcher gives me experience to be a manager, but I’ve travelled so much throughout my career that I realized that having been home now for the last few years more than before, I really don’t want to leave home anymore. As tough as it was to make it as a player it’s equally or more difficult to make it as a coach or manager so that’s why the Concordia thing is very interesting.”
Before the interview could even start, Coste had things to do. His 12-year old daughter Casey was travelling with him and she had her volleyball. They went down to the left field area in Hutchinson and practiced bumping and spiking. “I spike it as hard as I can and she hits it harder,” smiled Coste. “She’s a tough kid, I like it because volleyball is actually a sport I can help her with.” She doesn’t appreciate this [amateur baseball] as much because she is spoiled by the big league life.”
The Brewers play Savage in Brownton at 11 a.m. on Sunday.
Will Coste catch? “I’ll catch tomorrow,” he said. Casey isn’t the only tough Coste.