Chris Coste retires from pro baseball, set to coach at Concordia
Moorhead - The 33-year-old rookie is now the 38-year-old assistant coach for Concordia. Chris Coste said Monday that he's retiring from professional baseball.
"As far as the major league aspirations, yeah, that's all in the past," said Coste, who played his last game in the Major Leagues for Houston Astros in 2009.
Coste will return to the Cobbers this spring as the team's associate head coach. Coste played for Concordia from 1993-95 and was a three-time baseball All-American for head coach Bucky Burgau, who has been the program's head coach since 1979.
"We're really fired up," Burgau said. "He brings a wealth of baseball knowledge to our program that you don't get from just any old assistant."
Coste had "Tommy John surgery" on his throwing elbow in 2010 and had hoped to attempt a pro comeback this season.
Coste played for a local amateur baseball team this summer, but wasn't able to play for an independent baseball team like he had planned - either for a team in the Atlantic League or with the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks of the American Association.
If he was to make a comeback, that was going to be one of the steps, but it never materialized. Coste said he was unable to get fully healthy this summer with nagging injuries to his hamstring and quadriceps.
"The elbow was great, but it was just the rest of the body that didn't want to get on board," said Coste, who authored two books, including "The 33-Year-Old Rookie," which was released in 2008.
"And in some ways, I'm glad an injury is what kind what the determining factor was because I always kind of wondered how it would be to look yourself in the mirror and say 'You know what, I don't have it anymore physically.' "
That's when he decided it was time to look into coaching and Concordia was the natural fit.
"Bucky and I have talked about this situation for many years," Coste said. "This is the first year where I have been able to do it. ... My entire playing career I was always in some way preparing myself for a coaching or managing situation."
Coste played four seasons in the big leagues from 2006 to 2009 for the Philadelphia Phillies and Houston. Coste has been a part-time analyst for pregame and postgame shows for Phillies' games this season on Comcast. Coste said he is scheduled to do another week in September and also playoff games.
Coste won a World Series ring with the Phillies in 2008. That was the pinnacle of an unlikely rise from his days as Division III player who started his pro career in independent baseball.
Coste was proud of his journey.
"It was just the desire to get one day in the Major Leagues turned into almost five," Coste said. "I guess in some ways defying the odds and achieving something that I wasn't sure was possible in my situation, getting to the major leagues was that goal."
Burgau said it was a treat to watch one of his former players ascend to the top level of baseball.
"Maybe the most pleasing thing to me is how he took care of the game and how he never forgot his roots," Burgau said.
Coste said he initially wanted to coach or manage in the minor leagues and try to work his way up through a system. However, Coste said being home with his family in Fargo the last couple years has made him "really appreciate being home." Coste and his wife, Marcia, have two kids.
"My wife is actually very excited about this, too, simply because she knows the potential of me being home," Coste said. "Me being in the minor leagues in the future for many years kind of worried her a little bit."
Coste said he can see himself being the head coach at Concordia some day if all goes well.
"This will be a good learning experience to see if this is what I want to do," Coste said. "I may do it and realize I'm not good at it or I may realize that I'm really good at it and this is exactly what I want to do. This is kind of a trial couple of years to see where it leads."
Burgau said Coste will have input in all phases of the team from hitting to pitching to defense. Burgau said Coste will coach third base and "run the offense."
"To add his name to our athletic staff at Concordia is a big boon for recruiting also," Burgau said. "He's big name guy. He played on a world championship team. To say the least, I'm ecstatic about it."