Corey Koskie is sitting in Agra Culture in Edina, looking fit, eating kale and salmon with massive hands inherited from his farmer father.
He wears a "Hockey Night in Canada" cap; lights up when talking about his favorite teammates; and, as we learned during his career as a Twins third baseman, juggles the deep thoughts that fight for front-row seats in his active brain.
Recently voted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, Koskie steers the conversation away from his honor, toward youth sports, leadership, fatherhood, and the moments that defined his interrupted career.
He will enter Canada's Hall on June 13, along with Carlos Delgado, Matt Stairs, Felipe Alou and baseball writer Bob Elliott.
Koskie says he doesn't regret the concussion that altered his life. His primary regret involves the dimensions of Yankee Stadium.
"The one thing I do remember, from an individual standpoint, is my double against Mariano Rivera," he said. "The double that bounced out. By that much."
That happened in Game 2 of the 2004 ALDS in Yankee Stadium. The Twins won Game 1.
They trailed 4-3 in the top of the eighth in Game 2 when Koskie fought back from an 0-and-2 count, and sliced a 3-and-2 pitch down the left field line with Luis Rivas running from first base on the pitch. One run scored. If the ball hadn't bounced over the fence, Rivas would have scored, too, and the Twins likely would have taken a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series to the Metrodome.
Instead, the ball bounced out, Rivas was sent back to third and the Yankees won 7-6 with two runs in the 12th.
"I thought we were going to the World Series," Koskie said. "I felt it within our team dynamic."
Koskie signed with Toronto after the 2004 season, and was traded in 2006 to Milwaukee, where he suffered the concussion that ended his career. For long stretches, he couldn't stand to watch TV, or sit in a lighted room.
"It took me about 2½ years to get over it," he said. "I went through an anxiety stage, then a depressive stage, then I guess you'd call it an obsessive-compulsive stage. If I left the house, I worried that I had left the oven on.
"I still find myself doing a systems check every time I wake up. I feel fine now, but I'd like to get past that."
About seven years ago, Koskie was sitting in his home office when a friend of one of his sons asked what Koskie did for a living. "Joshua said, 'I don't know, he really doesn't do anything, he plays some golf and sits on his computer,' " Koskie said. "I was 33, 34 at the time. Everything I learned about life and hard work and what it takes to be a success, I learned from my father. I have four boys. I needed to do something to show them how the real world works."
Koskie tried to buy commercial real estate. That did not go well. "Those people know what they're doing," Koskie said. "So I spent a lot of money for a few years getting my education in the business world. I lost money, but I learned a lot."
A friend eventually suggested a Planet Fitness gym franchise. "It costs $10 a month to join," Koskie said, "and it's a 'Judgment Free Zone.' I love that because if I go to the gym, I can be insecure, too, seeing what some of those guys do."
Now he's a Planet Fitness franchisee who coaches his sons in baseball and hockey. He's an avid reader, always looking for expertise on leadership and youth sports. His studies have led to this conclusion: "We're doing it all wrong."
He sees youth coaches with massive amounts of information but no feel for leadership. He sees children forced to play sports year-round, turned into "robots" by incessant instruction. He sees the joy being leeched out of youth sports, and kids quitting before they reach the age of 14, "and from 13-18 is when kids need sports the most."
"Youth sports isn't a treat anymore," he said. "It's a job. The coaches don't understand the dynamics of athleticism. They just have talking points. You'll have a 16-year-old kid who's been told how to do something six different ways, and all of those instructions are about how he's doing it wrong.
"They're playing under someone else's structure all the time. Under a coach's structure."
Koskie grew up on a farm in Anola, Manitoba. His batting practice consisted of hitting rocks with a whiffle ball bat on a field constructed in his imagination, or throwing a baseball against a small trampoline, hitting it as far as he could … and then retrieving it and taking another swing.
"I later read, 'The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,' and I did all of those things without knowing I was doing them," he said.
Koskie said that he's honored by the Hall of Fame election but that the real rewards of his playing career occurred long ago, when the Twins staved off contraction and became winners.
As the rare player who wintered in Minnesota, Koskie visited block parties and senior centers, and talked to parents who used batting averages to teach children math. "I saw the connection between fathers and sons, and families and the Twins," he said. "I realized how lucky I was that my skills and abilities were able to bring joy into other people's lives."