Cole, Alex

Position: Centerfield
Birthplace: Fayetteville

First, Middle Names: Alexander Jr.
Date of Birth:  Aug. 17, 1965                         

Current Residence: Undetermined

High School: Jefferson-Huguenot-Wythe High School, Richmond, VA
College: State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, FL

Bat: L   Throws: L        Height and Weight: 6-0, 170
Debut Year: 1990       Final Year: 1996          Years Played: 7
Team(s) and Years: Cleveland Indians, 1990-92; Pittsburgh Pirates, 1992; Colorado Rockies, 1993; Minnesota Twins, 1994-95; Boston Red Sox, 1996

Career Summary
G         AB       H         R          RBI      HR       BA.      OBP.    SLG.     WAR
573   1760  493   288     117      5          .280     .360     .351     4.2

Alex Cole arrived in the major leagues accompanied by the promise of stardom. He departed seven seasons later as merely a good player, his road to greatness blocked by injuries and indifferent outfield play. His life later spiraled out of control into the depths of drugs and included time in federal prison.

Cole was born in Fayetteville where his father, Alex “Fuzzy” Cole Sr., had played football for what’s now Fayetteville State University. The family moved to Richmond, Virginia, where the younger Cole played high-school baseball and football. He later concentrated on baseball at State College of Florida, a two-year school near Sarasota.

The St. Louis Cardinals, enamored at the time with Vince Coleman-type players., drafted Cole, a speedy, slap hitter, in the second round of the 1985 amateur draft. He languished for six years in the Cardinals’ farm system, however, before being traded to the San Diego Padres and then to the Cleveland Indians midway through the 1990 season.

In the final 63 games of the year, Cole stole a staggering 40 bases for the Indians while hitting .300. He swiped five in one game to set a major-league record. Indians’ management and fans rightfully thought that this speedster with the distinctive goggle eyeglasses was a budding superstar who would top their lineup for a decade or more. So convinced were they of Cole’s potential that the team’s owners moved the centerfield fence back at old Municipal Stadium before the 1991 season to take advantage of Cole’s ability to hit the gaps for doubles and triples.

All those hopes slipped away when Cole did as he stumbled out of the box in spring training trying to beat out a slow tapper. He hit the ground hard, dislocating a shoulder. The team’s manager later blamed the injury for the cautiousness that Cole displayed on the base paths throughout the season and his hesitancy to slide headfirst into second base. Cole would end up with 27 stolen bases – only 10 more than his failed attempts. He also developed a habit of being picked off. His batting average was a respectable .295, but a full season exposed his poor defensive play in centerfield. His inconsistent defense would be a liability for the rest of his career.[I]

The Indians traded Cole in 1992 to the Pittsburgh Pirates, who let him go in the expansion draft later that year. Cole was the starting centerfielder for the first Colorado Rockies team. Then, it was on to Minnesota, where Cole seemed to be reaching the potential everyone saw in him as a rookie. He was hitting .342 during the first 28 games of the 1995 season for the Twins, while getting on base more than 40 percent of the time. It was the best start of his career.

And the end of it, as it turned out. Cole broke his right leg and dislocated an ankle while chasing a fly ball. His season and career were over. His attempted comeback with the Boston Red Sox in 1996 ended after only 24 games and a .222 average.

Though stardom eluded him, Cole played well wherever he landed. His 148 career stolen bases rank eighth among North Carolina players with more than 1,000 at bats. His .360 lifetime on-base percentage is 14th and his .280 batting average is tied for 18th.

Cole settled in Florida where he was a mortgage broker. He played ball in Mexico and in independent leagues in the United States. Cole was playing for the Bluefish in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in the Atlantic League on Aug. 9, 1991 when federal agents arrested him at the ballpark for selling heroin to undercover agents. He pleaded guilty the following year to conspiring to possess heroin with the intent to distribute and was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison. Four years later, a judgment in excess of $30,000 was entered against him for running up credit card debts under a friend’s name.[II]

References
[I] Kreitzer, Chris. “Alex Cole: Tales from the Teepee.” Bleacher Report,  May 29, 2008. https://bleacherreport.com/articles/26048-alex-cole-tales-from-the-teepee.
[II] “Ravens On the Move?” Hartford (CONN) Courant, June 7, 2002.

 

 

 

Cole, Stu

Position: Second base
Birthplace: Charlotte

First, Middle Names: Stewart Bryan
Date of Birth:  Feb. 7, 1966                           

Current Residence: Charlotte

High School: South Mecklenburg High School, Charlotte
College: University of North Carolina- Charlotte

Bats: R             Throws: R        Height and Weight: 6.1, 175
Debut Year: 1991       Final Year: 1991          Years Played: 1
Team and Year: Kansas City Royals, 1991

Career Summary
G         AB       H         R          RBI      HR       BA.      OBP.    SLG.     WAR
1          7          1          1            0          0          .143       .333     .143       0.1

Stu Cole’s baseball career probably didn’t turn out as he had hoped when the Kansas City Royals drafted him out of University of North Carolina-Charlotte in 1987. He didn’t become a big-league star. There were no dives at second base to save a World Series game, no dramatic homers in the ninth to win one, no film clips on ESPN. In fact, his major-league playing days were over almost as soon as they began: one month, one game started, one hit.

Yet, here he is all those years later, a respected elder in the game and a mentor to hundreds of young players. Cole celebrated 25 years with the Colorado Rockies’ organization in 2020. Most of that time was spent as a minor-league manager, but Cole has been a fixture in the third-base coaching box at Coors’ Field for eight years.

“Just to see the guys come up through the organization, to watch them improve and make it to the big leagues has been very rewarding,” Cole said in a Denver Post podcast in 2019. “It’s been a joy to see guys get better and know you were a part of it.”[I]

Cole had played baseball since his childhood in Charlotte. As a 12-year-old, he starred on an all-black little league team that won a state championship. He lettered in baseball and football at South Mecklenburg High School and played baseball at UNC-Charlotte.

It took him four years to work his way up the Royals’ farm system, making his big-league debut on Sept. 5, 1991. He got seven at bats over the next month. One resulted in a single, his only hit in the major leagues. “You always dream about playing in the big leagues and to go and make that dream come true and to participate and get a big-league hit,” Cole said in that podcast. “That’s something that can never be taken away from you. It was something special and I will always treasure that moment.”[II]

Cole was back in the minors in 1992. He was playing for Colorado Springs, Colorado, the Rockies’ Triple A club, three years later when his knees began aching. He had had two previous knee surgeries and didn’t want another. He retired at age 29.

He became a Rockies’ minor-league manager in 2001, managing in more than 1,600 games at every level of the team’s farm system for the next 12 years. He was named the Manager of the Year Award in 2003 in the California League. Cole joined the big-league club as its third-base coach in 2012.

Cole still lives in Charlotte with his wife, Maria. They have two children.

Footnotes
[I] Newman, Kyle. Episode 91, Stu Cole. On the Rox podcast. Denver (CO.) Post. May  2, 2019. https://soundcloud.com/rockiespodcast/ep-91-rockies-third-base-coach-stu-cole.

[II] Ibid.