Jerry Coleman: Legendary San Diego Padres announcer passes away at 89

It was certainly a bittersweet Sunday in San Diego. Hours after the Chargers secured an impressive playoff victory in Cincinnati, and moments after the city’s top 15 college basketball team became the first non-Big 12 school to win in Lawrence, Kan., since 2006, San Diego lost perhaps its most legendary sports icon not named Tony Gwynn.

Jerry Coleman died Jan. 5 from complications from head injuries he suffered during a fall in December. He was 89 years old.

Jerry ColemanOne could surmise “The Colonel,” as he was affectionately known (he actually ended his military service a lieutenant colonel), accomplished more before age 30 than 95 percent of people do in a lifetime. Like many of the Greatest Generation, Coleman postponed his baseball aspirations by volunteering to fight the Second World War. During three years as a marine bomber pilot in the Pacific theatre, he flew 57 combat missions.

After the war, the native Californian worked his way through the New York Yankees’ farm system before arriving in the big leagues on Opening Day in 1949. Still just 24, Coleman captured American League Rookie of the year honors, helping the Yankees to their first of five consecutive world titles.

Avoiding a sophomore jinx, he was an All-Star in 1950 and, after key hits in the Fall Classic against Philadelphia, was named World Series MVP. Spectacular defensively, Coleman became the first and only Major Leaguer to see active combat in two wars when he was recalled for the Korean War (I want readers to ponder this self-sacrifice, devotion to duty and patriotism, and compare it with today’s athletes).

Coleman flew another 120 missions in Korea, was nearly killed, and earned numerous honors, including 13 air medals and two Distinguished Flying Crosses. He stayed in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves until 1964, seven years after his playing days were over. The Colonel finished his career in 1957 as a four-time World Series champion.

Following five years in the Yankee front office, a position he attained at just 33 years old, Coleman broadcast games for the Bronx Bombers from 1963-1970, calling former roommate Mickey Mantle’s 500th career home run in 1967.

He returned to California with the Angels announcing team for two seasons, then began a four-decade career as the San Diego Padres play-by-play, and then eventually color man. Coleman’s military experience and appreciation for servicemen was perfect in the city’s large veteran community.

As someone raised in San Diego, I recall one famous phrase from listening to Padres games on radio and watching on television: “Oh doctor, you can hang a star on that baby!”

Jerry Coleman statue fans

Fans gathered near the Jerry Coleman statue at Petco Park to pay their respects.

Young fans like myself would peer down from our third deck seats at Jack Murphy Stadium toward the press box to see if the venerable voice of the Pads had indeed hung a star (Coleman had an actual star attached a pole that he would wave out of the broadcast booth) to signify a Roberto Alomar diving stop, Benito Santiago pick off or Tony Gwynn lunging grab had earned the honor.

One of my childhood friends is Josh Stein, Padres Director of Baseball Operations since 2010. He knew Coleman personally.

“Jerry was an uplifting presence on a daily basis, always quick with a quip or to point out a bright spot in the previous night’s game,” Stein told me. “He was also a pure gem of a man, accomplished at pretty much everything in life, yet humble as they come.”

Coleman was given the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting excellence at the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005 and was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2007. The Padres also unveiled a statue of Coleman on September 15, 2012. It is just the second statue in the park, the other belongs to Gwynn.

Humble, humorous, self-effacing, statesmanlike and, in a simple word, legendary.

Jerry Coleman, Rest in peace, sir. You are a true American icon.



About AJ Kaufman

A former schoolteacher and military historian, A.J. now works in public relations. As an MSF columnist since 2009, he supports anything baseball-related. Raised in San Diego, A.J. has since resided in numerous parts of America, including Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Ohio and Washington State. After departing the coasts in 2005, he's traveled the back roads of all 50 states and prefers the Heartland. Married to Maria, A.J. is the author of three books and enjoys reading presidential biographies.

Comments

  1. Neat summary of a truly great man. A hero in a world where today’s athlete is far removed from tge sacrafises of the greatest generation both in time and in deed

  2. Bill Morgan says:

    Ted Williams also flew in two wars

    • AJ Kaufman says:

      Thanks, Bill.

      Williams was indeed involved in both wars, but did not see “active combat” in WW2. After extensive training in North Florida, he was actually in Hawaii awaiting orders as a replacement pilot when the war ended.

      As a former military historian, this was important for me to get correct. I checked and re-checked all Sunday evening. Every single story (and I read 14) clearly noted that Coleman was “the only Major League player to see active combat in two military conflicts.” Here is a detailed summary (not written yesterday):

      http://www.militarymuseum.org/Williams.html

      Like Coleman, Williams was an incredible patriot. I hope you were able to learn more about “The Colonel” despite your questions about that portion.

  3. left hander says:

    Nice synopsis of a great man. Did not know he worked for the Yankees in the 60’s before SD, interesting. The radio men of his generation were/are just classic and legendary (vin scully, ernie harwell, jerry coleman, bob murphy, etc) and exmplify the humbleness and no-ego of days gone by.

    • AJ Kaufman says:

      Not only worked for Yanks, but played on 5 WS champ teams with them, won ROY, WS MVP and much more.

      “The best second baseman I ever saw on the double play,” said Yankee manager Casey Stengel.

  4. Aren’t many men like Jerry Coleman left in America….just a bunch of androgynous pajama-onesie wearing pole smokers.

    • AJ Kaufman says:

      Heh, some truth to that, though our servicemen today are as tough and dedicated as ever. But yes, as I noted, Coleman accomplished more (of consequence) before age 30 than most will in a lifetime. No debate on that. Greatest Generation grew up in the Depression. That molded them. No other group since has actually struggled economically. Every restaurant, theatre, stadium, concert hall is full during our current “recession.”

  5. Thank you for summarizing the accomplishments of a truly great man. There are many sports figures who are not really worthy of praise when you look deeper. However, from all indications, it looks like Mr. Coleman was not only a legend in baseball (on and off the field), but one as a human being. His service to his country is the most impressive on his list of accomplishments. Similarly, as a Dodger fan, it’s going to hit me like it did you, when Vinny steps down or no longer graces this earth.

  6. He did not pass away, he died (I know that was just the headline).

    I was waiting with my mom for the La Jolla fireworks to start one year (1987? ’88?), the JC/Dave Campbell heyday. Game goes into extra innings (early start for post game fireworks at the Murph), Padres win on walk off home run. To hear everyone reacting, listening to the game as Coleman goes ‘IT’S AT THE WALL, TO THE WALL…..IT’S OVER THE WALL!!’ made me realize how legendary he was.

    Here is a great story of Campbell defending Coleman the year he was managing…

    http://www.gaslampball.com/2014/1/6/5280344/a-story-of-dave-campbell-standing-up-for-his-friend-jerry-coleman

    And then there is Keith Olbermann’s tribute:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-OHPjIsisI

  7. Requires longer.

  8. Wrapped up within Pacific ocean Urban center, the particular crime ridden metropolitan middle of the town will purchase a cleanup simply call from your awesome police officers.

  9. Us states offers held 310 happens within Pakistan considering the fact that The year 2004, together with questions about the injury tally are accumulating.

  10. Those strategies are normally suitable for SMEs (Medium and small Sizing Small businesses).

  11. If you ever function out-of-doors an important fee concentrated, bucks can more often than not end up being previous thing to the number.

  12. The very thought of being at houseboats, not likely all the madding crowd plus in area that will mother nature herself, lures all people..

  13. qctvoouayytfooplryislwak

  14. khsrcrxlbzxhhjxptdvqvnp

  15. ckrfjqtlkhejurvscufpxjyvwm

  16. vnzsowvncntjlnjtrndlepdnwvwd

  17. ponqmnvurwkowyzoxafkzn

  18. vavkfnciwkdzqjkvcuwnqrqscr

  19. jzpsewmrkhgxqykaythge

  20. bkcwtgxobvlvqkmqojuupffwmnxm

  21. ihjdawnxgonqwifootetziatnld

  22. rmlfyszeqpdfwlidrwsnhviljv

  23. thsmtjlvovwnlzccztcssi

  24. annyupugeqiazhmnbqvkorqnn

  25. yptqgdnsvepthgccbdyyptva

  26. Hello! Quick question that’s entirely off topic.
    Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly?

    My weblog looks weird when browsing from my iphone4.
    I’m trying to find a template or plugin that might be able to correct this problem.
    If you have any suggestions, please share. With thanks!

  27. If some one desires to be updated with newest technologies then he must be visit this web page and be up to date everyday.

  28. Hi there, I think your blog could be having browser compatibility issues.
    Whenever I take a look at your website in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer,
    it has some overlapping issues. I just wanted to give you
    a quick heads up! Besides that, wonderful blog!

  29. If you desire to improve your familiarity simply keep visiting this website and
    be updated with the hottest news posted here.

  30. Highly descriptive blog, I liked that bit. Will there be a part 2?

  31. Spot on with this write-up, I truly feel this website needs much more attention. I’ll probably be returning to read more, thanks for the information!

  32. An impressive share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a colleague who had been doing
    a little homework on this. And he in fact bought me lunch
    because I found it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this….
    Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending the time to discuss this topic
    here on your internet site.

  33. Now I am going away to do my breakfast, after having
    my breakfast coming yet again to read additional news.

  34. I’m no longer positive where you are getting your info, however good topic.
    I must spend some time finding out more or working
    out more. Thank you for magnificent information I was on the lookout for this information for my mission.

  35. This post is invaluable. Where can I find out more?

  36. Greetings! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could
    get a captcha plugin for my comment form? I’m
    using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having
    trouble finding one? Thanks a lot!

  37. It’s not my first time to visit this web page, i am browsing this website dailly and obtain pleasant data from here everyday.

  38. I visit every day some blogs and information sites to
    read articles or reviews, except this web site gives feature based articles.

  39. Hi, after reading this awesome piece of writing i am too happy
    to share my experience here with mates.

  40. Howdy! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be okay.
    I’m definitely enjoying your blog and look forward to new updates.

  41. I am not sure where you are getting your information, however great topic.
    I needs to spend some time finding out much more or
    figuring out more. Thanks for magnificent info I used to be looking for this information for my mission.

  42. I constantly emailed this weblog post page
    to all my contacts, because if like to read it next my
    contacts will too.

  43. This article gives clear idea designed for the new
    people of blogging, that truly how to do blogging.

  44. I like the helpful info you provide in your articles.
    I’ll bookmark your weblog and check again here frequently.
    I’m quite certain I’ll learn a lot of new stuff right here!
    Good luck for the next!

  45. If you would like to improve your know-how just keep visiting
    this site and be updated with the newest news update posted
    here.

  46. I’ve been browsing on-line more than three hours nowadays, but I never discovered
    any attention-grabbing article like yours. It is beautiful price sufficient for me.
    In my opinion, if all site owners and bloggers made excellent content material as you did, the net will likely be a lot
    more useful than ever before.

  47. Hey! Do you know if they make any plugins to protect against hackers?
    I’m kinda paranoid about losing everything I’ve worked hard on. Any tips?

  48. When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four e-mails with the same comment.
    Is there any way you can remove me from that service?
    Bless you!

  49. Its like you learn my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote
    the book in it or something. I believe that you
    just can do with some p.c. to pressure the message house a bit, but other than that, this is magnificent blog.
    A great read. I will certainly be back.

  50. Hello! I could have sworn I’ve been to this website
    before but after going through some of the articles I realized it’s
    new to me. Regardless, I’m definitely delighted I stumbled upon it and I’ll
    be bookmarking it and checking back frequently!

  51. It’s hard to come by experienced people on this topic, however, you sound like you
    know what you’re talking about! Thanks

  52. You’ve made some decent points there. I looked on the web for additional information about the issue and found most individuals will go along
    with your views on this web site.

  53. Since the admin of this web site is working, no hesitation very rapidly it will be well-known, due to its feature contents.

  54. I am genuinely thankful to the holder of this site who has shared this wonderful post at
    at this time.

  55. Excellent pieces. Keep posting such kind of info on your site.
    Im really impressed by your blog.
    Hi there, You have performed an incredible job. I’ll certainly digg it and in my opinion suggest to my friends.
    I’m sure they’ll be benefited from this web site.

  56. I think the admin of this web page is in fact working hard for his site,
    because here every data is quality based material.

  57. Hi, i feel that i saw you visited my blog so i came to return the desire?.I am
    attempting to in finding issues to improve my web site!I
    guess its ok to make use of a few of your ideas!!

  58. It is perfect time to make some plans for the future and it’s time to
    be happy. I’ve read this post and if I could
    I desire to suggest you some interesting things or advice.

    Maybe you can write next articles referring to this article.
    I wish to read even more things about it!

  59. Hello, Neat post. There’s a problem with your site in internet explorer, may test this?
    IE still is the market chief and a huge section of folks will pass over your great writing because
    of this problem.

  60. Hi, I think your blog might be having browser compatibility issues.

    When I look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some
    overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up!
    Other then that, terrific blog!

  61. Good post however I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this subject?
    I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit more.
    Thank you!

  62. Do you mind if I quote a few of your articles as long as I provide credit and sources back to your blog?
    My website is in the exact same area of interest as yours and my visitors would genuinely benefit from
    a lot of the information you provide here. Please let
    me know if this alright with you. Appreciate it!

  63. Have you ever thought about publishing an ebook or
    guest authoring on other sites? I have a blog based upon on the same
    topics you discuss and would love to have you share
    some stories/information. I know my subscribers would appreciate your work.
    If you are even remotely interested, feel free to shoot
    me an e mail.

  64. I do not even understand how I stopped up right here, but I believed this post was good.
    I do not know who you might be however certainly you are going to a famous blogger if you are not already.
    Cheers!

  65. Hi, after reading this awesome post i am too happy to share my
    knowledge here with colleagues.

  66. For hottest news you have to pay a visit world-wide-web and
    on world-wide-web I found this web page as a best site for hottest updates.

  67. What’s up to every one, since I am in fact keen of reading this
    web site’s post to be updated daily. It includes good material.

  68. Good day very nice web site!! Guy .. Excellent ..
    Amazing .. I will bookmark your website and take the feeds additionally?
    I am satisfied to search out so many useful information here within the publish, we’d like develop extra
    techniques in this regard, thank you for sharing.
    . . . . .

  69. Article writing is also a excitement, if you be acquainted with afterward you can write otherwise it is complex to write.

  70. Very good article. I definitely appreciate this website.

    Stick with it!

  71. Hello! Do you know if they make any plugins to assist with SEO?

    I’m trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords
    but I’m not seeing very good results. If you know of any please share.
    Cheers!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Francisco ChronicleEx-Yankee Infielder, Padres Broadcaster Jerry Coleman Dies at 89BusinessweekMidwest Sports Fans -KUSIall 125 news […]

Speak Your Mind