Sunday, January 12, 2014

Requiem, Jerry Coleman

Still getting used to some changes, so posting is going to be more irregular than it has been.

I remember former Yankees second baseball and San Diego Padres broadcaster Jerry Coleman from a book by the late baseball umpire Ron Luciano, wherein Luciano noted Coleman's malapropisms, uttered while Coleman would be calling baseball games. Here are some of his gems, taken from the Baseball Almanac:
  • Dave Winfield  goes back to the wall, he hits his head on the wall and it rolls off! It's rolling all the way back to second base. This is a terrible thing for the Padres."
  • "They throw (Dave) Winfield out at second — and he's safe."
  • "There's a hard shot to (Johnnie) LeMaster and he throws (Bill) Madlock into the dugout."
  • "Pete Rose has three-thousand hits and three-thousand and fourteen overall."
  • "He slides into second with a stand up double."
  • "He (Graig Nettles) leaped up to make one of those diving stops only he can make."
Despite these, as well as other gems, Coleman apparently called a good game, since he was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame for his play-by-play broadcasting for the San Diego Padres, for whom Coleman lent his voice over the air for 42 years.

I never got to hear Coleman call a game; everything I know about him comes from books such as that of Luciano's and David Halberstam's "Summer of '49", where Coleman, as a rookie, was prominently mentioned. It was through reading about him that I admired what I thought was a plucky and energetic player and broadcaster.

Coleman was also part of the "Greatest Generation", having fought in World War II and the Korean War as a Marine Corps pilot; his participation in these conflagrations shortened his career, although I doubt Coleman gave it any thought, as he probably felt that he was best serving his country. Coleman flew on bombing missions, and, according to an article in the U-T San Diego by Chris Jenkins, experienced a harrowing crash wherein he nearly died. For his service to his country, he was awarded several medals, including two Distinguished Flying Crosses.

As a baseball player, Coleman was outstanding for a brief period of time, finishing third in Rookie of the Year balloting in 1949, playing in the 1950 All-Star Game, and being part of four New York Yankees championship teams.

Coleman passed away last January 5, 2014, after being hospitalized for complications from injuries suffered in a fall last December. He was 89.

Requiescat in pace, Jerry Coleman. Keep on calling the good game up there.

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