Season to Savor
Chris Coste ‘95 sprinted out of the dugout and jumped
onto a pile of Phillies celebrating their 2008 World Series
title. He was among the first to join the party on the
pitcher’s mound before being buried in bedlam by the rest of
his teammates. For the former journeyman minor-leaguer,
the thrill of winning it all was difficult to describe.
“It was such a surreal moment,” says Coste, the Phillies’ back-up catcher and three-time Concordia All-American.“I honestly didn’t even believe it was happening. It was like a microcosm of my entire career – it felt like a dream.”
Joining Coste on the field for the post-game pandemonium was his former Cobbers’ and F-M Red Hawks’ teammate Greg Salvevold ’97. The Moorhead High School baseball coach and former Rays’ minor league pitcher was thrilled to have a ticket for the pinnacle moment in Coste’s career.
“Being on the field with Chris was pretty special,” Salvevold says. “He was told many times that he would never make it. Many players would have given up the dream many years ago, but he just kept believing. To see him go to the World Series and win it is just unbelievable.”
Salvevold and Coste capped their on-field celebration by digging up some history they could share forever.
“We said, ‘we have to go over and get some dirt,’” Coste says. “We filled our pockets with dirt from the pitcher’s mound and home plate.”
Coste says the magnitude of the moment began to sink in a few days later during the team parade through downtown Philadelphia, where more than 2 million fans turned out to cheer their heroes.
“I almost had to wipe away tears at least 50 times because it was just so exciting,” Coste says. “Every positive human emotion you could feel was just heightened.”
Though Coste appeared in only one World Series game – going 0-4 as the designated hitter in Game 1 – his contributions to the Phillies’ title run were significant. He belted nine homers in 98 regular season games and was hitting over .300 until a late-season slump saw his batting average settle at .263.
Much beloved, Coste has become a fan favorite in Philly earning the nickname “Chris Clutch” for his ability to deliver timely hits. Among his most memorable performances was Aug. 26 against the N.Y. Mets, when Coste came off the bench to get four hits, including the walk-off winner in the 13th inning to put the Phillies back in first place.
“I had an incredible first half (of the season) where I was up to .320 for awhile and then I came back down to earth and had a rough finish,” Coste says. “I wish I could have been more consistent, but the fact that I got to play a lot more than anyone expected, including myself, was a major positive.”
Coste’s improbable rise to the majors after enduring more than a decade in the minors is well chronicled in his book, “The 33-Year-Old Rookie.” And his World Series win has fueled speculative talk of making his story into a movie.
For now, Coste, who turns 36 in February, isn’t interested. After all, he’s not done writing the script; he’s getting ready for spring training – wherever that might be this season. (As Concordia Magazine went to press, Coste had become the subject of trade rumors after the Phils acquired another catcher from the Pittsburgh Pirates.) He says retirement is nowhere on his radar screen. “For me to walk away, they are going to have to rip the uniform off of my back.”