FARGO — He has the kind of story made for Hollywood: Nice guy from the Midwest battles it out in the minor leagues of baseball for years before making it the big league at the ripe old age of 33.
The story of Fargo native Chris Coste isn't just a pie-in-the-sky idea. Movie studio representatives from Hollywood have been in touch with Coste about making a movie based on his autobiography, "The 33-Year-Old Rookie: How I Finally Made it to the Big Leagues After 11 Years in the Minors." With a dose of typical Midwestern modesty, Coste tells us not to hold our breath.
Coste graduated from Fargo South High School in 1991 before playing for Concordia College, the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks and, eventually, the Philadelphia Phillies, where he helped the team win a World Series in 2008.
Since that time, he's returned to Fargo-Moorhead to coach baseball at Concordia and work as a hitting coach for the RedHawks. Coste was also an in-studio analyst on Comcast SportsNet and appeared on "Phillies Pregame Live" and "Postgame Live" shows. He and his wife, Marcia, have two daughters.
We decided to invite Coste to The Silver Lining Creamery in downtown Fargo to mark the opening day of baseball season and get to know one of Fargo's favorite athletes over a couple of scoops of ice cream. To watch our complete interview, visit inforum.com.
Tracy Briggs (TB): Thanks for joining us on "The Scoop." Since we're at Silver Lining Creamery today, I have to ask, what's your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Chris Coste (CC): Maybe some dark chocolate with some mint and maybe rainbow sprinkles in honor of my daughter. She loves rainbow sprinkles.
TB: If baseball didn't exist, what do you think you would have done with your life?
CC: I would hope that I would have gone into teaching of some kind. The college environment I'm in now is so great. I majored in accounting. Fortunately for me, I won't have to do that.
TB: Today (March 28) is opening day for Major League Baseball. Do you miss it?
CC: I'm a former major leaguer who might have a different attitude than most. It took me so long to get to the major leagues that every day felt as important as opening day. Every day, whether it was Game 1 or Game 60, every time I stepped on the field I'd look around the crowd. I'd look at the grandstand, whether it was Yankee Stadium, Philadelphia or Dodger Stadium. It always felt like opening day.
TB: Since this is the earliest opening day ever for the MLB, it might be a little chillier than most baseball openers. Did you like playing in hot or cold weather more?
CC: I love the humidity!
TB: Really? You're a North Dakota guy. You're supposed to like the cold weather.
CC: For our spring trip with Concordia we went to Florida and it was warm every day. I loved it!
TB: What surprised you most about the major leagues?
CC: How easy it was to get there. (He laughs). No, I'm just kidding. Really how Philly fans took me in. It was a really easy team to wrap yourself around. I should have been an anonymous backup catcher, but they treated me like (Phillies teammate and 2000 first-round draft pick) Chase Utley — just way better looking than Chase Utley.
TB: You've written a couple of books ( "Hey... I'm Just the Catcher: An Inside Look at a Northern League Season From Behind the Plate," published in 1997, and "The 33-Year-Old Rookie" in 2008). I've heard there might be a movie made about your life based on that second book?
CC: It's come up. It's not like I'm receiving calls from Disney. I'll just have to make sure my phone is on (laughs). It's highly unlikely it will happen. My only worry about that — I don't know if Matthew McConaughey will be young enough to play me when the movie comes out.
TB: Well, you answered my question. I always like to ask people in "Scoop" interviews who would play them in a movie about their lives.
CC: Yeah, I think it would be Matthew McConaughey or maybe Ryan Reynolds. But Ryan Reynolds might be too funny.
TB: How about what's-his-name, Reese Witherspoon's ex-husband, Ryan Phillippe?
CC: Oh yeah, I know him. I mean, I don't know him in person. I know who he is.
TB: You might want to talk to him about it.
CC: Yes, I could do that.
TB: How's your ice cream?
CC: I just hit the Snickers part. I forgot that was part of the deal. (We were both eating Silver Lining Creamery's "Liquid Gold" ice cream, which is salted caramel with Snickers bits.)
TB: Are you bringing the team some ice cream today?
CC: No, but we do feed them pretty well. But it's usually bananas. Wherever I go, they're going to get bananas, because I tell them you've never seen a weak gorilla, have you? Tell me, have you ever seen a weak gorilla?
TB: Never, never.
CC: Same thing with monkeys. You've never seen a monkey with a hamstring cramp, have you?
CC: Bananas will change your life.
TB: So if we learn nothing else from you today it's to eat bananas?
CC: But I learned that from Chase Utley. Pretty good source, right?
TB: What advice do you have for your players — I mean, besides the whole banana thing?
CC: A lot of what I learned was from Bucky Burgau, my coach at Concordia. You know we have guys on our team who will be teachers, coaches or doctors one day. We always say whatever you end up doing one day, do it 100 percent and be the best you can be. I want them to be the best they can be whether it's trying to get a hit, pass a test or be the best heart surgeon. It's important in life to want to win. There are, of course, more important things than wins or losses on a record. But whatever we do, we're going to do it to the nth degree.
TB: You could have settled anywhere after retirement from baseball. Why did you come home?
CC: My summer after retiring I spent most of it at the lake near Perham (Minn.). What an amazing summer! Then Bucky presented me with an opportunity to be his assistant coach, with the chance of taking over when he retired. I was his assistant for one year and I knew Concordia was where I wanted to be. I had a feeling I would like it, but I didn't realize I would love it right away. Part of it, in a place like Concordia, yes we want to win, but at the end of the day our shortstop is going to be a heart surgeon. So if he makes an error, as disappointed as he's going to be, we know that he's going to do far more important things in his life then try to get a hit. But at the same time, he's ferocious. He wants to get a hit, turn a double play. Those are the kind of guys I get to deal with on an every day basis at Concordia.
TB: Well, finally, you know I had to ask: Can I wear the ring? (Coste has a 2008 World Series ring.)
CC: Sure. Here you go.
TB: Wow! It's so heavy! Do you wear it every day?
CC: Nah, it doesn't go with my other pair of sweatpants.
Happy opening day, Coach Coste.