FARGO — Chris Coste was throwing batting practice prior to Tuesday's American Association game at Newman Outdoor Field, on a date that had great significance in his professional baseball career.

May 21, 2006, was the day the former Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks player and current hitting coach got the call.

"It was a pretty special day, but so much happened after that," Coste said.

The aforementioned day 13 years ago was when Coste found out he was headed to Major League Baseball with the Philadelphia Phillies. He was 33 years old.

Coste was on the bench for the RedHawks Tuesday night as they continued their series against the Milwaukee Milkmen. T.J. Bennett had four hits and drove in three runs to spark the RedHawks to a 6-4 victory at Newman. F-M scored four runs in the eighth inning to rally to victory.

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Earlier Tuesday, the 46-year-old Coste tweeted out his recollection on the phone call he got from his Triple-A manager John Russell about his promotion to the Phillies from Scranton/Wilkes Barre, Pa., more than a decade ago. Coste remembers it being a total surprise since his batting average was below .200.

Coste had a strong spring training in 2006 and thought he had a chance to make the Phillies for opening day. So he wasn't sure what to make of the phone call, which came on a Sunday morning before a day game for Scranton/Wilkes Barre.

"Five weeks into the season in Triple-A, I was hitting .177 and just couldn't get off the ground, thinking my spring training opportunity had been washed away," Coste said. "The last thing in my mind was going to the big leagues. In fact, I was thinking maybe I was getting released."

Coste played in the Major Leagues from 2006-2009 for the Phillies and Houston Astros. He won a World Series championship with Philadelphia in 2008. Coste played for the RedHawks for four seasons, from 1996-1999. He batted at least .312 in each of his seasons with F-M, which was then in the Northern League.

Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks hitting coach Chris Coste won a World Series championship with the Philadelphia Phillies. David Samson / The Forum
Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks hitting coach Chris Coste won a World Series championship with the Philadelphia Phillies. David Samson / The Forum

Coste said he nearly didn't give his Major League dream a chance. After his 1999 season with the RedHawks, Coste said he at first turned down a chance to sign with the Cleveland Indians organization. At the time, his wife, Marcia, was pregnant with their first child and Coste worked for the RedHawks year-round as he was also the team's director of merchandising.

"We had what we thought was a fantastic life in Fargo," Coste said. "Life was great. RedHawks were incredibly popular. We were winning a lot of games. Even though I wasn't making a lot of money, I felt like a Major Leaguer when I put on that uniform."

Coste said at the time he assumed Cleveland wasn't going to give him much of an opportunity. He had seen fellow Northern League players, who he thought were better than him, sign with MLB organizations and not make it. That's when then-RedHawks manager Doug Simunic intervened, Coste said.

Simunic talked Coste into signing with the Cleveland organization.

"He said, you're going to wake up in your bed when you're 50 and wonder what would have happened. And when he said that, I had that vision of me having regrets," Coste said, recalling his conversation with Simunic. "I can't even put into words how big that was for my career."

Coste, 26 years old at the time, signed with Cleveland. That started his journey through the minor leagues that led him to that call-up with Philadelphia, where he became a fan favorite.

"What a great phone call Doug Simunic and I had because he pushed me. If I hadn't listened to him, I might still be here, but I certainly don't have a World Series ring," Coste said. "Even if I hadn't made it (to the Major Leagues), he was right. I would have had regrets."

Coste said it's fitting his baseball journey has him back in independent baseball. This is his second season as F-M's hitting coach.

"The RedHawks were huge factors in my climb to the big leagues," said Coste, also the head baseball coach at Concordia College in Moorhead.

The RedHawks (2-3) snapped a two-game losing streak with Tuesday's victory. F-M plays Milwaukee (3-3) at 11 a.m. Wednesday, May 22, at Newman in the third game of a four-game series.