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Jerry Coleman

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Gerald Francis Coleman

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[edit] Biographical Information

Yogi Berra, center-left, Lou Brissie, left with cane, second baseman Jerry Coleman (in black shirt and coat), center, and outfielder John "Mule" Miles, right

Jerry Coleman played nine seasons for the New York Yankees and appeared in six World Series. After his playing days, he was a longtime broadcaster, primarily for the San Diego Padres, spending 71 years in baseball overall.

Coleman signed with the Yankees as a 17-year-old in 1942 and began his pro career that summer, hitting .304 in 83 games with the Wellsville Yankees of the PONY League. He then missed the next three seasons while serving in the Marines during World War II. During the conflict, he was a fighter pilot, attaining the rank of 1st Lieutenant and piloting SBD Dauntless dive bombers on 57 missions in the Solomon Islands.

After the war, Coleman returned to baseball, and despite modest batting averages in the minors, he took over from Snuffy Stirnweiss as the Yankees' regular second baseman in 1949. That summer, he hit .275 as a rookie and finished third in the Rookie of the Year Award voting as his club was World Series champs. In 1950, he made the All-Star team for the only time in his career and was the World Series' Most Valuable Player, although the formal award did not yet exist. He also played in the Fall Classic in 1951.

Coleman missed most of the following two years while returning to the military during the Korean War. During that conflict, he attained the rank of Captain and flew 63 missions in F4U Corsairs. Overall, during his military career, he earned two Distinguished Flying Crosses and 20 Air Medals. When he returned to the Yankees, it was as a utility infielder, but he appeared in the World Series three more times, from 1955 to 1957.

Following his playing days, Coleman began work as broadcaster on NBC's Game of the Week in 1960, then was the Yankees play-by-play broadcaster from 1963 to 1969. It was not a career choice he had necessarily contemplated, but he was encouraged by old friend Howard Cosell to get into the profession. He moved to the West Coast in 1970, worked briefly for the California Angels, then joined the Padres as a broadcaster in 1972, and aside from 1980, when he managed the team, was a member of their broadcasting team until the end of the 2013 season, when he was 89. He was known for a series of unintentional malapropisms that put him in a class with his former teammate Yogi Berra. Nonetheless, he was the recipient of the 2005 Ford Frick Award. He was elected to the Padres' Hall of Fame in 2001 and in 2012, the Padres honored him with a statue outside of PETCO Park.

He passed away on January 5, 2014, in a San Diego, CA hospital, after suffering head injuries in a fall at home a few days earlier. Commissioner Bud Selig issued a statement upon learning of his death, saying "Jerry Coleman was a hero and a role model to myself and countless others in the game of Baseball. He had a memorable, multifaceted career in the National Pastime." A public memorial service for him was held at PETCO Park on January 18th.

[edit] Notable Achievements


Preceded by
Roger Craig
San Diego Padres Manager
1980
Succeeded by
Frank Howard

[edit] Year-By-Year Managerial Record

Year Team League Record Finish Organization Playoffs
1980 San Diego Padres National League 73-89 6th San Diego Padres

[edit] Further Reading

  • Jerry Coleman and Richard Goldstein: An American Journey: My Life On the Field, In the Air and On the Air, Triumph Books, Chicago, IL, 2008.

[edit] Related Sites

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