Orioles' Danny Coulombe on his career: 'Such a crazy journey' - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Orioles’ Danny Coulombe on his career: ‘Such a crazy journey’

Photo Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel USA TODAY Sports


Danny Coulombe was a 25th-round draft pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012. The 34-year-old left-handed reliever made his major league debut in 2014 and has played two seasons for the Dodgers, four for Oakland, three for Minnesota, and he’s in his second season with the Orioles.

This interview has been edited for brevity.

Question: What’s the difference between life in the major and minor leagues?



Danny Coulombe: “Everything. It’s so different, especially when you’re younger and you’re not married, single, it’s pretty simple, minor leagues. When you’re in the minor leagues with families, it just gets so much more complicated. Just the travel is so much harder. You’ve got to pay for a hotel room on the road to have your family here. The food is not as good. It’s like a way different game, a lot harder because my job, first of all is, I need to be a good husband and a good father, and it’s really hard to do that when you’re in the minor leagues because you’re away a lot. You don’t make as much money. It’s really hard.”

Question: You were playing in the minor leagues at an advanced age in some expensive places to live, Nashville, San Antonio, Saint Paul. At that time, teams didn’t pay for housing. How difficult was that?

Coulombe: “It was hard. My wife and I really had to be really careful about not overspending, especially in Nashville. Now with the teams paying for housing, it’s a lot better. When I was in High-A, we were in Rancho Cucamonga, California, and California is so expensive. I remember there being six or seven guys in a two-bedroom apartment, sleeping in the kitchen, just to survive. I look back on my career, and I’ve been so lucky because I had host families, and that wasn’t always the case for a lot of people. Now, it’s going to be a lot better in the minor leagues with them paying for housing. It was a grind. I would say that 40-50 percent of the players that get weeded out is just because they can’t afford to keep playing because you don’t make anything anyway. A lot of the players I played with were really talented but they’re like, ‘I’ve got a family’ or ‘I’m getting married’ or ‘I want to start providing for my family.’”

Question: What was it like as an adult, living in a host family’s house?

Coulombe: “The coolest part about being in a host family is you get to meet so many different types of people. In Midland, Michigan, I had an awesome host family, and I slept in a closet, but it was a great closet. It was really dark. That family, I really appreciate that. In Rancho, I had a great elderly couple that was like, ‘we have a room for you, and we’d love to have you.’ There are some horror stories with some host families. I’ve been so fortunate not to be a part of those.

Question: Did they cook for you?

Coulombe: “They would. They would have cookouts for us. In Ogden, Utah, I stayed with some people, and we’d have a cookout every Friday night. They would cook for us and provide for us. They really enjoyed it. They loved baseball. They didn’t want anything from us. Minor league tickets are free. “Just get us tickets to the game, and we’re g.’ Really thankful for that.”

Q: Do you keep in touch with them?
Coulombe: “I’m Facebook friends with a few of them. Not anymore. It was 10 years ago. Once in a while, they’ll message something on Facebook. There are some awesome people I’ve met through this game.”

Q: You weren’t a big-name prospect, and your father was a physician. How many times did you question yourself?

Coulombe: “I’ve had a really interesting path in baseball. I was a super prospect in high school. I got drafted by the Dodgers. I was Arizona ‘Player of the Year,’ and then I went to college, and I got hurt four years straight. I went to a showcase in Dodger Stadium. We had some familiarity because they drafted me out of high school. It was a guy throwing 98, me throwing 83 and the next guy throwing 98. They were like, ‘hey we’re going to draft you. We’re going to give you a shot.’

“So, they drafted me in the 25th round. It was just a wild story. I was drafted in ’12. 2014 was an interesting year because my wife and I, she was my fiancée at the time, and I said, ‘I’ve got to provide for you. If I don’t at least make it to the [Arizona] Fall League this year, I’m hanging it up. I was in High-A almost the whole year in ’14. I got called up to Double-A. I think it was August, pitched in August and September in Double-A, made it to the playoffs, pitched really well and then they called me up to the big leagues. That was 2014, and you’re looking back on it, and it’s been such a crazy journey. It’s pretty wild.”

Question: Does success at a later age make you appreciate what you have more?

Coulombe: “I was just talking to Dillon Tate yesterday after the anthem. During the anthem, I’m always thinking, ‘I’m in a big league stadium, and I’m still playing baseball at 34 years old, and we were just talking about it afterwards. He was like, ‘I think about that, too, all the time.’ I have such an appreciation for it. It’s just been such a blessing. I can’t even explain it. No matter what happens in baseball, I’m really thankful for what I’ve been able to do. We’ll see what the next few years have in hold.”

Question: Did your father ever tell you to get realistic?

Coulombe: “His thing was, ‘if you’re going to get married you’ve got to provide for your wife.’ That’s number one. There were times when we had conversations. He never said that, but I told him more than anything. ‘I don’t know if I’m going to be playing this game much longer.’ He was really big into academics, and I promised my mom I’d get my degree. I went back to school two years ago and finished my degree online in business management at Grand Canyon University. I fulfilled my promise. Whatever life holds after baseball, I’m pretty ready, pretty excited for it.”

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