Chris "Cogs" Coghlan, star out-fielder of the Florida Marlins baseball team, was named the National League Rookie of the Year on November 16, 2009, and yes, Coghlan is "as Irish as a four-leaf clover." He relaxed after his historic rookie season by taking a golfing trip to the Emerald Isle in the off-season. According to witnesses, "Cogs" did some proud chest-pounding when he saw many a street in Ireland named “Coghlan.”
Christopher B. Coghlan was born to Tim and Heather Coghlan on June 18, 1985 at Palm Harbor, Florida, but grew up in Gaithersburg, Maryland and Tarpon Springs, Florida. Chris’ father, Tim Coghlan, was a police officer in Maryland for nearly 20 years before he was injured in a SWAT team raid and moved his family to Pinellas County, Florida. He was killed in a head-on traffic accident during a business trip in Maryland on June 5, 2001. Chris, who has a younger brother and two younger sisters, was the last family member to get the terrible news. Chris found solace and support from his friends and coaches at the Winning Inning Baseball Academy. Chris was one of the academy’s first students when it opened in 1998 up the road in Dunedin. Randy Holland and Roy Silver, who run the academy, were among a handful of local men who helped rescue Coghlan when he was a vulnerable15-year-old, grieving over the sudden death of his father. Holland was a trainer for the Toronto Blue Jays for 18 years and Silver spent 16 years as a minor-league player and coach. Chris’ support group also included Randy Fierbaugh, a retired minor-league pitcher, Lee Byers, Coghlan’s baseball coach at East Lake High School in Tarpon Springs, and Chip Snare, who was Coghlan’s principal at East Lake. All had families of their own, but each pitched in to guide Coghlan over the last 10 years as if he were a son. "When my husband died, it was just an awful time," said Coghlan’s mother, Heather, "Boys tend to look up to their dads and he didn’t have a dad to give him any guidance. Now, God has blessed him with a number of father figures. They really helped Chris become who he is today."
Coghlan graduated from East Lake High School in Tarpon Springs, Florida. He was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 18th Round (546th overall) of the 2003 Major League Baseball Draft, but did not sign, choosing instead to attend the University of Mississippi. After three years at Ole Miss, Coghlan was selected by the Florida Marlins in the 1st Round (36th overall) of the 2006 Major League Baseball Draft, and signed.
Since joining the Marlins organization, Coghlan has played for the Gulf Coast Marlins (Rookie level), the Jamestown Jammers (Low-A), the Greensboro Grasshoppers (A), the Jupiter Hammerheads (High-A), the Carolina Mudcats (Double-A) and the New Orleans Zephyrs (Triple-A). Much of his time in the minors was spent switching positions from his college position of third baseman to second baseman, and eventually left fielder upon being called up to the Florida Marlins.
Coghlan made his major league debut on May 8, 2009. On August 9, 2009, he set the Marlins team record for consecutive multi-hit games at 8. Coghlan had 47 hits in August 2009, the most for a rookie since Todd Helton hit 45 in August 1998, earning him Rookie of the Month honors. He then followed with 50 hits in September/October 2009, the first rookie with back to back 47+ hit months, and the first player to do so since Ichiro Suzuki in 2004. His .321 batting average was 6th in NL among all players and 1st among all rookies. After the MLB All-Star break, Coghlan led all major league players in batting average (.372) and hits (113). His overall performance earned him the National League Rookie of the Year Award on November 16, 2009.
Those who know Coghlan best believe he’ll blossom into an All-Star if he continues to honor his father through his performance on the field. "He channeled his frustration, that trauma and heartache, into his efforts. Initially that helped him get through the grief. As a result he ended up playing for his dad. He probably still does," his high school coach Byers said. Coghlan agrees that he has found a special meaning in his father’s death, and has grown because of it. "It changed my outlook on life and I really believe I would have never made it to the big leagues," Coghlan said, "That being said, I’d rather have my dad than be playing in the major leagues, any day of the week."
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