Pulse: 60-Second Critic: The 33-Year-Old Rookie

Review of The 33-Year-Old Rookie by Chris Coste

The 33-Year-Old Rookie
By Chris Coste
Ballantine Books; $25

Grade: B+

Chris Coste became a Phillies fan favorite the minute he was called up to the big club in ’06. Because of his age (33), his time in the minor leagues (11…long…years), and his position (catcher), he was likened to a real-life Crash Davis, from the 1988 movie Bull Durham. But unlike the grizzled, dour Davis, Coste provides a sunnier outlook toward a life both blessed (and cursed) by baseball. Coste is neither controversial nor bitter about his predicament, but he isn’t Zen-like about it, either. He confesses that he often thought about quitting baseball— mostly because the minor league pittance could barely provide for him, let alone his wife, Marcia, and their newborn—and how he felt snubbed by big ball clubs even though he consistently put up good, if not eye-popping, numbers throughout his minor-league career. So when he finally does get the call in 2006, it’s a little anti-climatic. Coste’s story would be a lot better had the world not already seen Invincible (or Rudy … or insert myriad of other Hollywood sports movies here), but his good-guy appeal and throwback approach to the game makes it impossible not to root for him. For 2008, it appears Coste has a roster spot as back-up catcher. He’s a proven commodity because of his ability, but it’s also great to have a player on the team who’ll treat every at bat like it might be his last—because, based on the trajectory of his career, it just might.