Jerry Coleman

From BR Bullpen


Gerald Francis Coleman
(The Colonel)

BR page

Biographical Information[edit]

"He was a wonderful human being and a great guy. He was one of a kind. He sort of blazed his own path from San Francisco and ended up as a war hero and a major league ballplayer and doing so many things in our game. As much as he's remembered for all he accomplished as a baseball man, he was more proud of his military service." - Bud Black

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 became a legendary broadcaster and a "Master of the Malaprop", primarily with 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 in 128 games 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, batting .287/.372/.381 in a career-best 153 games, 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.

Jerry Coleman.jpg

Following his playing days, Coleman began working as a broadcaster on NBC's Game of the Week in 1960, then was the Yankees play-by-play man 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. Aside from 1980, when he managed the team - not particularly successfully - he 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. He was the recipient of the 2005 Ford Frick Award, joining Joe Garagiola, Tony Kubek, Bob Uecker and Tim McCarver as winners who played big league ball. In 2007, Jerry was an inductee into the National Radio Hall of Fame for his work. 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. For his his work as a pilot in the military, Jerry was inducted into the International Aerospace Hall of Fame in 2011.

He passed away on January 5, 2014, in a San Diego 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. In 2015, the Jerry Coleman Award was created to honor a United States Marine Corps Staff Noncommissioned Officer (SNCO).

Notable Achievements[edit]

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

Year-By-Year Managerial Record[edit]

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

Further Reading[edit]

  • 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.

Related Sites[edit]