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Chris Coste
Longtime Minor Leaguer a major inspiration

By Mike Scarr /

Every player who reaches the big leagues takes a different road to his ultimate destination.

For some players, signposts along the way point to the express lane and a career filled with high expectations, All-Star selections and personal hardware.

Others get a taste of the Majors early, only to spend the next few seasons shuttling between the big club and the farm before hooking on as a regular.

Then there are those players who seem destined for a career in the Minors often through no fault of their own.

Such is the case for Chris Coste, backup catcher for the Phillies.

Coste cannot point to a lengthy Major League resume, but he can at least boast of one that includes stints in 2006 and '07 before latching on full time this past season.

Coste has played in a total of 648 Minor League games, 592 of which came before his first call.

"It was like winning the lottery," Chris' wife, Marcia, told after her husband made his big league debut.

Coste didn't catch on with a Major League organization until he was signed as a free agent by the Pirates in January 1999. From the time he left Division III Concordia College in 1995, the right-handed-hitting backstop kicked around the independent circuit, playing mostly in his hometown of Fargo, N.D.

He logged 359 games in the Northern League before getting the call from Pittsburgh, an experience that inspired Coste to commit his journey to paper.

Age: 35

Fargo, N.D.

School: Concordia College (N.D.)

Team: PHI

Video | Player bio
Coste's stated hobby is writing books, and for good reason: He's got a story.

It's one that attracted the attention of Ballantine Books, which published his autobiography, "The 33-Year-Old Rookie: How I Finally Made it to the Big Leagues After Eleven Years in the Minors," in 2008.

"When I was in the Minors, I'd sometimes dream that I was in the big leagues and hitting off Roger Clemens," wrote Coste on his Web site, "and it seemed so real that I'd be telling myself that it's not a dream, but then I'd wake up and be back in my bed at Triple-A.

"There were many times when I was actually playing in the big leagues when I felt I was going to wake up from a dream. There was a time I had a four-hit game and raised my average to .375, and I still felt like, 'Do these people know that I don't belong here?'"

The imposter syndrome, perhaps, yet Coste's dream of reaching the bigs blossomed into a berth on a 2008 squad that won Philadelphia's first World Series championship in 28 years.

"It is unbelievable, in a way," said Pam Coste, Chris' step-grandmother. "It is a dream come true. I think it is even bigger because it took a long time. He is a huge celebrity [in Fargo]. We're all big fans. The whole city."

Of course, Coste has an opportunity to add to his published works. He started Game 1 of the World Series and hopes to be a part of future championship teams.

Regardless of whether the Phillies make it back to the Fall Classic in 2009, Coste knows that he's arrived, having fulfilled a dream of a lifetime.

Mike Scarr is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.