Corey Koskie spent a decade in Major League Baseball playing at a high level. The vast majority of his career was spent in Minnesota, anchoring the infield and the middle of the lineup for the Twins.
A multi-talented athlete, Koskie actually grew up excelling on the volleyball court and as a hockey goalie in his native Canada.
In the newest installment of Card Back Q&A, he talks about his time on the court and ice, his career year in Minnesota, sleeping in cars (for charity) and much more.
Tony Reid–The back of your 1998 Bowman rookie card said that you are once an MVP of a national volleyball tournament in Canada. What was your volleyball career like back in the day?
Corey Koskie-Volleyball was my best sport. I loved it because I was good at it. When you are really good at something it’s hard not to love it. I played on a provincial volleyball team. I played for the University of Manitoba juvenile team. I played at national and international tournaments. I thought I was really good because I was good at the national level but when we started playing at the international level it put me in my place a little bit. At the national level when we were playing against the provincial teams your average setter was between 5’11” to 6’3” and I could jump. I could jump and go over the blocks when the setter was in the front row. When we started playing internationally the setters were anywhere between 6’3” and 6’7”and they could jump like me. All of a sudden it was a completely different game. In my mind my plan was to go play internationally. I thought that was where my career was going to lead me. After I saw what else was out there internationally maybe I’m not as good as I think I was.
TR-Your 1999 Fleer Brilliance card also mentioned your time playing volleyball but also mentioned the fact you played Canadian junior hockey. What is your fondest memory on the ice as a youngster?
CK-Gosh, maybe when I made the junior hockey team. I was still in high school. I played a year before and basically went to the camp because that’s what people do. You go to a junior camp just to go. I wasn’t expecting to make the team but I made it all the way through the team. I remember meeting the head coach and the GM at a restaurant with my parents and the said they wanted me to play junior hockey. Then it was the whole decision to play or not. Junior hockey was a whole different level. We are traveling across Manitoba. You are playing and practicing every day. We decided to play. It was cool. You got paid to play so it was a pretty good winter job.
TR–Your 2003 Donruss card says “one of the Twins cornerstones, Koskie became the first 3rd baseman in AL history to record at least 100 runs, 25 homers, 100 RBI and 25 stolen bases in 2001.” What a fun season that must have been to be firing on all cylinders in so many facets of the game. What was 2001 like for you and those numbers you put up?
CK-It was one of those things where everything clicked. One thing that really sucked about that year was September 11th. I remember going into Detroit and during the course of the season you have your ups and downs. We were in Anaheim and I started to feel my swing click a little bit. The last game in Anaheim I was 2 for 3 but I hit four balls on the screws. I felt like I had a chance. I felt like I was going to hit 30 homers and hit .300. It was about to come on. The first game in Detroit I was 2 for 4 with a double and then September 11th happened. We had that week off of baseball and you felt completely dejected. I didn’t even want to play baseball.
You are trying to figure yourself out in the middle of all of this chaos that we dealt with as a country. It was the year that T.K. (manager Tom Kelly) moved me to cleanup, so I went from sixth or seventh in the lineup to hitting cleanup. The amount of confidence he put in in that, it was exciting. I felt like a power hitter. I felt like a bigger part of the team. I hit cleanup that whole year. The following year T.K. retired. The next year I come in having that year and the next year I get in the clubhouse, in my mind I am entrenched as the cleanup hitter for the Twins. I get to the clubhouse and I see the first day we go into spring training, the lineup goes up and I am hitting sixth. That’s when Gardie took over for T.K. as the manager. I felt like I was sideswiped. All of the players were like ‘What did you do?’
David Ortiz was hitting fourth. It took like three weeks to even have that conversation with Gardie. I told him I thought I had a great year, why did I move down in the lineup? I was told that David was a prototypical cleanup hitter and I was hitting in the second three hole. What? I completely agree with statement number one that David is a prototype cleanup hitter. I am just super confused what it means to hit in the second three hole. You break all these records and become the first third baseman to do all of this stuff and the next year you are moved down in the lineup. I was super confused on that one. But yeah, that year was a fun year. Even as an organization 2001 was a special year for a lot of guys.
TR–You had a card released in 2004 by the Minnesota Twins entitled “A Ballpark for Minnesota”. The back of the card states ‘off the field Cory and his wife Shannon have helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for homeless families by supporting the efforts of Bob’s Sleepout Foundation benefitting Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners.
How special is your time spent giving back to the community through various charities and organizations?
CK-Being a part of charities things are all set up and I just show up and do my thing. There are hundreds of people behind the scenes doing everything to make this thing work. Bob’s thing was that he would sleep out every night until a certain amount of money was raised. You hear the numbers about how many people are living paycheck to paycheck and how close some people are to being homeless. I reached out to Interfaith to see how I could get involved. The way was that I would sleep out one night in a tent. I was able to get some of the other guys involved, too. We were able to get Joe Mauer and all of his brothers to sleep out with us one time. The night that we slept out was typically the coldest night in Minnesota and it was cold.
The one thing I was able to do was transition them from the tent sleepout to a car sleepout because when families transition and become homeless 95% of them sleep in their car. The last two or three years I was with them we did car sleepouts. It can get cold in the car. The tent was cold but it didn’t seem as cold as sleeping in a car. It is a great organization and they have raised millions of dollars to fight homelessness. Really homelessness is a lose term because the majority of the money went to keep people in their homes.