A Memorial Day Tribute to Padres Legend, Jerry Coleman

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(Photo by Andy Hayt/San Diego Padres/Getty Images)

The San Diego Padres franchise has been in existence for 48 years.

Tony Gwynn will always be known as Mr.Padre, but not too far behind our hometown hero, is Jerry Coleman.

“The Colonel” was a member of the Padres’ organization from 1972 through his unfortunate death in January of 2014. His iconic voice will always be remembered in the hearts of Padres fans. I still miss his voice when listening to a Padres game on the radio.

Coleman was an excellent member of the baseball community. He was a former Rookie Of The Year in 1949, for the New York Yankees. The following year, Coleman was named an all-star, and the team went on to win the World Series. He was named the World Series MVP that year, and went on to win four world championships with the Yankees in six appearances. Jerry Coleman retired from the Yankees in 1957, with a career. 263 average and 212 RBI.

His accomplishments in baseball are plenty, but they are nothing to what Coleman did for his country. On this Memorial Day, we at East Village Times would like to show our respect for Jerry Coleman. “The Colonel” has the honor of being the only major league player to have ever seen combat in two wars. Ted Williams served in both the Korean War and World War II, like Coleman, but he did not see combat in World War II. I recently heard Ted Leitner proclaim that Jerry Coleman was his hero. He was his hero because Coleman led such a fulfilled life, but was never boastful about it.

Jerry Coleman flew a grand total of 120 combat missions for the U.S. Marine Corps. He flew 57 missions in WWII and 63 missions in the Korean War. The man was active in both wars…it’s not as though he was sitting behind a desk pushing papers around. Jerry Coleman was truly a hero to our country.

Coleman flew missions with the VMSB-Torrid Turtles in WWII and was a member of the VMA-323 Death Rattlers in the Korean War. He received two Distinguished Flying Crosses, and was named to the USMC Hall Of Fame. The man served our country with respect, and was an American hero in every sense of the word.

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In 1972, the Padres were looking for a lead radio announcer and Coleman was immediately hired and held that position until his death. Even at the age of 89, his insight to the games and catch phrases were a joy to hear. He is widely recognized as one of the iconic announcers of the 70’s and 80’s. Coleman’s #1 catch phrase of “Oh Doctor” is written in the press box of Petco Park and his catch phrase of “You can hang a star on that baby!” is one of my personal favorites.

In 1980, the San Diego Padres named Jerry Coleman their manager. A 73-89 record and a sixth place finish resulted in Coleman being fired. He always joked about his tenure as Padres manager. That’s the kind of man he was. He was always modest about his accomplishments in life, either bad or good.

The man was truly an American hero, I can’t stop expressing that to you. He is greatly missed among Padre fans and his commitment to the team was legendary. I had the pleasure of meeting Jerry Coleman many times, and he was always a pleasure to talk to. He had an aura about him that is kind of hard to describe. You could just feel his greatness, but the humbleness he displayed always ruled. He never wanted to get any accolades for his accomplishments and simply said he was doing his job.

On this Memorial Day, let’s take time to think about the Veterans who served our country, and especially those that never returned to their families. The day is about being thankful for those who serve our country. Without the sacrifice of these men and women, nothing you see before you would be possible.

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