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HAMMOND'S MIKE COLES SIGNS WITH RAILCATS

Thursday, February 2, 2012 • POSTED BY:  Hillary Smith - Times Correspondent

Somewhere in the back of his mind, Hammond High grad Mike Coles knew he'd play for the RailCats again.

How soon that might happen, he didn't know.

Before heading to a class at Purdue-Cal on Thursday morning, Coles dropped off his contract and will pull on the RailCats uniform this summer, marking a return to the spot where he started his minor league career.

"I don't know what ultimately made the decision in me, but deep down in my heart I knew some way, some how I'd be back with the RailCats," Coles said. "(Manager Greg) Tagert felt the same way, that he knew he would have me back at some point.

"This is a great situation for me."

A career .312 hitter, Coles batted mostly lead-off for the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks for the past three seasons. He won a pair of Northern League titles in Fargo, fresh off of two Frontier League-winning seasons in Windy City.

Coles was drafted by the Orioles in 2001 and played in college at Purdue, where he hit .297 in 105 games.

He was found by the RailCats during an open tryout in 2006, and played in 74 games that season, hitting .274.

He was a Frontier League All-Star in 2007 and a Northern League All-Star in 2009.

"We're extremely pleased to have Michael back in a RailCats uniform," Tagert said in a release. "This is where he began his professional career and not only has he become a great player, he has carried that winning-type personality his entire career. It's good to have him back on our side and I know he's excited to be back home."

In the past three seasons that Coles has been with Fargo-Moorhead, his family and friends have attended RailCats games and given the RedHawks a loud, boisterous cheering section. Now, they'll be back as RailCats fans, Coles said.

"I just told my grandma this morning," Coles said. "My mom knew a few weeks ago, and everybody is pretty excited. It hasn't quite gotten out yet, I've been keeping it a pretty good secret."