Jerry Coleman

Gerald Francis Coleman (September 14, 1924 – January 5, 2014) was a Major League Baseball (MLB) second baseman for the New York Yankees and manager of the San Diego Padres for one year. Coleman was named the rookie of the year in 1949 by Associated Press, and was an All-Star in 1950 and later that year was named the World Series Most Valuable Player. Yankees teams on which he was a player appeared in six World Series during his career, winning four times. Coleman served as a Marine Corps pilot in World War II and the Korean War, flying combat missions with the VMSB-341 Torrid Turtles (WWII) and VMA-323 Death Rattlers (Korea) in both wars.[2] He later became a broadcaster, and he was honored in 2005 by the National Baseball Hall of Fame with the Ford C. Frick Award for his broadcasting contributions.[3]

Jerry Coleman
Jerry Coleman, August 2005
Second baseman / Manager
Born: (1924-09-14)September 14, 1924
San Jose, California, U.S.
Died: January 5, 2014(2014-01-05) (aged 89)
San Diego, California, U.S.
Batted: Right
Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 20, 1949, for the New York Yankees
Last MLB appearance
September 29, 1957, for the New York Yankees
MLB statistics
Batting average.263
Home runs16
Runs batted in217
Managerial record73–89
Winning %.451
As player

As manager

Career highlights and awards
Military career
Coleman receiving the Lone Sailor Award in 2011
Nickname(s)The Colonel
Miramar National Cemetery, San Diego, California
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchUnited States Marine Corps
*Marine Forces Reserve
Years of service1942–1964[1]
RankLieutenant colonel
Battles/warsWorld War II Korean War
Distinguished Flying Cross (2)
Air Medal (13)
Other workNew York Yankee Second Baseman
San Diego Padres Radio Announcer

Playing career

Born in San Jose, California, Coleman graduated from Lowell High School,[4] then spent his entire playing career with the New York Yankees. He played six years in the Yankees' minor league system before reaching the big club in 1949. Coleman hit .275 in his first year and led all second basemen in fielding percentage. He was the Associated Press rookie of the year in 1949 and finished third in balloting by Baseball Writers' Association of America.[5]

Coleman avoided a sophomore slump by earning a selection to the All-Star team in 1950. He then shone in the World Series with brilliant defense, earning him the BBWAA's Babe Ruth Award as the series's most valuable player.[5]

Nicknamed "The Colonel" because he was a U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant colonel,[6] Coleman was a Marine aviator who postponed his entry into professional baseball in World War II and later left baseball to serve in the Korean War. While a Marine Corps aviator he flew 120 combat missions (57 during World War II and 63 in Korea).[2][3] and received numerous honors and medals including two Distinguished Flying Crosses.[7] In the years before his death, Coleman received numerous honors, including induction into the USMC Sports Hall of Fame,[8] for his call to duty. Coleman was the only Major League Baseball player to see combat in two wars. (While Ted Williams served during both World War II and Korea, he flew combat missions only in the Korean War.) [9][10][11]

Coleman's career declined after he was injured the following season, relegating him to a bench role. He was forced to retire after the 1957 season, but he left on a good note, hitting .364 in a World Series loss against the Milwaukee Braves. He appeared in the World Series six times in his career, winning four of them.[12]

Coleman appeared on the February 5, 1957 of the CBS game show To Tell the Truth as an imposter for singer Don Rondo. He received two votes.[13]

Broadcasting career

In 1958, New York Yankees general manager George Weiss named Coleman personnel director, which involved Coleman scouting minor league players. Roy Hamey terminated Coleman from that position, upon becoming the Yankees' general manager.[14] It was only after Coleman met with Howard Cosell that Coleman considered becoming a broadcaster.[14]

In 1960, Coleman began a broadcasting career with CBS television, conducting pregame interviews on the network's Game of the Week broadcasts. His broadcasting career nearly ended that year; he was in the midst of an interview with Cookie Lavagetto when the national anthem began playing. Coleman kept the interview going through the anthem, prompting an avalanche of angry letters to CBS.[15]

In 1963, he began a seven-year run calling Yankees games on WCBS radio and WPIX television. During this time, he lived in Ridgewood, New Jersey, which he described as being "19.9 miles from Yankee Stadium, but a million miles from New York".[16]

After broadcasting for the California Angels for two years, in 1972 Coleman became the lead radio announcer for the San Diego Padres, a position he held every year until his death in 2014 except for 1980, when the Padres hired him to manage (predating a trend of broadcasters-turned-managers that started in the late 1990s).[17] He was known in San Diego for his signature catchphrase, "You can hang a star on that one, baby!", which he would deliver after a spectacular play.[18] During home games, the phrase would be accompanied by a tinsel star swinging from a fishing pole that emanated from his broadcast booth.[19] Coleman's other catchphrases included "Oh Doctor!", "And the beat goes on," and "The natives are getting restless."[20]

Coleman lent these catchphrases to great use when the Padres defeated the Chicago Cubs in Game 5 of the 1984 National League Championship Series to clinch the pennant and their first ever trip to the World Series.

Here's the Goose...the 1–1 pitch. A one hopper to Nettles, to Wiggins...and the Padres have the National League pennant!!! Oh doctor, you can hang a star on that baby!!!

He also called national regular-season and postseason broadcasts for CBS Radio from the mid-1970s to 1997.[21]

During an interview in the height of the steroids scandal in 2005, Coleman stated, "If I'm emperor, the first time 50 games, the second time 100 games and the third strike you're out",[22] referring to how baseball should suspend players for being caught taking steroids. After the 2005 World Series, Major League Baseball put a similar policy in effect.

The Padres named their press box at Petco Park "The Jerry Coleman Broadcast Center" in Coleman's honor

Coleman was known as the "Master of the Malaprop" for making sometimes embarrassing mistakes on the microphone,[23] but he was nonetheless popular. In 2005, he was given the Ford C. Frick Award of the National Baseball Hall of Fame for broadcasting excellence, and is one of six Frick award winners who also played in the Major Leagues (the others are Joe Garagiola, Tony Kubek, Tim McCarver, Bob Uecker and Ken Harrelson.)[24]

He was inducted into the San Diego Padres Hall of Fame in 2001.[25] In fall 2007, Coleman was inducted to the National Radio Hall of Fame as a sports broadcaster for his years as the play-by-play voice of the San Diego Padres.[3] The Padres would also dedicate their press box to Coleman, renaming it "The Jerry Coleman Broadcast Center".

Ted Leitner and Andy Masur replaced Coleman for most of the radio broadcasting efforts for each Padres game. He did, however, still work middle innings as a color analyst. As of the 2010 season, he reduced his broadcast schedule down to 20–30 home day games.[26] As of November 2010, Coleman was the third-oldest active play-by-play announcer, behind only fellow Hall of Famers Felo Ramirez and Ralph Kiner.[27]

Coleman collaborated on his autobiography with longtime New York Times writer Richard Goldstein; their book An American Journey: My Life on the Field, In the Air, and On the Air was published in 2008. On September 15, 2012, the Padres unveiled a Coleman statue at Petco Park.[28] Coleman's statue is the second statue at Petco Park, the other being of Hall of Fame outfielder Tony Gwynn.[14]


Statue of Coleman at Petco Park.

Coleman was the recipient of the following medals:[29]

In 2011, Coleman was inducted into the International Aerospace Hall of Fame in a ceremony at the San Diego Air & Space Museum for his service as a combat pilot in World War II and the Korean War.[30] Although several Major League ballplayers flew during WWII, he was the only active member of MLB to do the deed twice, forgoing his career to fly in combat in both wars.[31] The SDASM restored a vintage F4U "Corsair" fighter-bomber in the markings of Coleman's aircraft during the Korean War and it is displayed under their SBD "Dauntless" dive bomber (which Coleman flew in combat during WW2).[32]


Coleman's death was reported by the San Diego Padres on January 5, 2014. He died after being hospitalized after a fall in his home.[33] He was 89.[3] Coleman was interred at Miramar National Cemetery after a private funeral.[34]


In 2015, a sports facility at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego was named in honor of Coleman.[35]

See also


  1. "Jerry Coleman". Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame. Marine Corps Community Services. March 13, 2007. Retrieved July 15, 2009.
  2. High Iron Illustrations, "Lt. Col. Jerry Coleman - Pilot". Archived from the original on March 24, 2012. Retrieved January 22, 2012.
  3. Schudel, Matt (January 7, 2014) "Baseball legend was also a military hero" The Washington Post, page B5. Digital version retrieved January 19, 2013
  4. "Famous Lowell Graduates". Lowell Alumni Association. Archived from the original on September 24, 2014. Retrieved July 15, 2009.
  5. "Coleman given Ford C. Frick Award". Associated Press. February 23, 2005. Archived from the original on April 16, 2014. Coleman played in six World Series and was The Associated Press's rookie of the year in 1949. He was also the MVP of the 1950 World Series.
  6. "Lt. Col. Gerald 'Jerry' F. Coleman – Pilot". Rogues. high iron illustrations. 2009. Archived from the original on March 24, 2012. Retrieved January 22, 2012.
  7. Grant, Kris (May 21, 2008). "Veterans Memorial to honor Jerry Coleman". La Jolla Light. MainStreet Media Group. Archived from the original on June 12, 2012.
  8. "2005 United States Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony" (PDF). Marine Corps Community Services. July 29, 2005. Retrieved July 15, 2009.
  9. "Ted Williams Official Web Site".
  10. "The Truth About Jerry Coleman". opinion. May 20, 2008. Archived from the original on September 19, 2008. Retrieved July 15, 2009.
  11. "Museum pays tribute to Jerry Coleman". The San Diego Union-Tribune. October 27, 2011. Archived from the original on October 29, 2011.
  12. Anderson, Dave (October 28, 2009). "The Yankees' World Series Ring Leaders". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 15, 2012.
  13. "To Tell the Truth". CBS. Archived from the original on December 13, 2021. Retrieved May 5, 2020.
  14. Bill Center (September 16, 2012). "Hang a Star on that Statue". San Diego Union Tribune. Archived from the original on January 6, 2014. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
  15. Smith, Curt (2005). Voices of Summer. New York City: Carroll & Graf. ISBN 0-7867-1446-8.
  16. Brock, Corey. "Oh, Doctor! Coleman synonymous with Padres; In 40th year as radio voice of club, 'The Colonel' to be honored on Saturday", Major League Baseball, September 13, 2012. Accessed September 21, 2015. "Coleman started out calling the national game of the week for CBS, but he began calling Yankees game in 1963. Working and living in New York, Coleman said, was intense. He lived in Ridgewood, N.J., which was '19.9 miles from Yankee Stadium, but a million miles from New York.'"
  17. Jay Posner (February 23, 2005). "Baseball will honor Padres' longtime voice with broadcast award". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved January 22, 2012.
  18. Price, Steve (January 6, 2014). "A life you could hang a star on: Jerry Coleman 1924–2014". Archived from the original on August 31, 2014.
  19. Smith, Ron (2000). The Ballpark Book: A Journey Through the Fields of Baseball Magic. The Sporting News. p. 83. ISBN 0-89204-633-3.
  20. "Padres Announcer Jerry Coleman Dies at 89". KNSD. San Diego. Associated Press. January 6, 2014. Retrieved June 2, 2015.
    "Author and Hall of Fame Sports Announcer Jerry Coleman". Escondido Public Library. City of Escondido. October 31, 2011. Retrieved June 2, 2015. Coleman is famous for his pet phrases "Oh Doctor!", "You can hang a star on that baby!", "And the beat goes on", and "The natives are getting restless".
  21. Posner, Jay (July 31, 2005). "About the Ford C. Frick award". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved June 2, 2015. 2005: Jerry Coleman – Yankees: 1963–69; Padres: 1972–79, 1981–present; CBS Radio: 1970s–1997
  22. "Ashway: Coleman a true American hero". Forsyth County News. Forsyth County, Georgia. January 21, 2014. Retrieved August 14, 2019.
    Vecsey, George (January 6, 2014). "Jerry Coleman, 89, Yankee Infielder, Fighter Pilot and Voice of the Padres". The New York Times. Retrieved August 14, 2019.
  23. Geisler Young. "Jerry Coleman Quotes". Quotes. Baseball-almanac. Retrieved January 22, 2012.
  24. National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum: Ford C. Frick Award
  25. "Padres Hall of Fame". Archived from the original on August 16, 2014.
  26. Maffei, John (February 4, 2010). "Coleman will have reduced role in 2010". North County Times. Archived from the original on February 7, 2010. Retrieved February 18, 2010.
  27. Bryan Hoch (November 11, 2010). "Marines, not baseball, Coleman's proudest days". news. Major League Baseball. Retrieved July 18, 2011. Still enjoying his time in the game as baseball's oldest active play-by-play announcer with the Padres, Coleman is just grateful to have come home safely.
  28. Chris Jenkins (September 14, 2012). "Coleman gets the star – and the statue – at Petco". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
  29. "Broadcasters". San Diego Padres. Major League Baseball. Retrieved July 11, 2013. His military service record includes 120 missions, earning him two Distinguished Flying Crosses, 13 Air Medals and three Navy citations.
  30. "Jerry Coleman". San Diego Air and Space Museum. 2015. Retrieved June 2, 2015.
    "Jerry Coleman to be inducted into International Air & Space Hall of Fame". San Diego Padres. Major League Baseball. November 4, 2011. Retrieved June 2, 2015. The San Diego Padres today announced Hall of Fame radio broadcaster Jerry Coleman will be inducted by the San Diego Air & Space Museum into its International Air & Space Hall of Fame on Saturday, November 5. Coleman will be honored, along with the rest of the distinguished Class of 2011, at the 48th Hall of Fame Induction Celebration, Legends of Flight.
  31. Sisk, Richard (January 13, 2014). "Jerry Coleman & Ted Williams: Korea Battle Buddies". Retrieved June 2, 2015.
    Rosgaard, Jessica (November 11, 2010). "Ballplayers served country on battlegrounds". CNN. Retrieved June 2, 2015.
    Hal Bodley (2014). How Baseball Explains America. Triumph Books. p. 9. ISBN 978-1-62368-807-3.
  32. Andy Strasberg (2014). San Diego Baseball Fantography. Arcadia Publishing. p. 126. ISBN 978-1-4671-3169-8.
    Center, Bill (October 27, 2011). "Museum pays tribute to Jerry Coleman". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved June 2, 2015.
  33. "Statement from the San Diego Padres on the passing of Jerry Coleman". Archived from the original on January 14, 2014. Retrieved January 5, 2014.
  34. "Jerry Coleman remembered at Petco". ESPN. Associated Press. January 18, 2014. Retrieved June 2, 2015.
    "Public memorial held for beloved Padres broadcaster Jerry Coleman". KGTV. San Diego. January 18, 2014. Retrieved June 2, 2015.
  35. Nguyen, Alexander (April 3, 2015). "Marine Corps Recruit Depot Names Sports Facility After Jerry Coleman". Times of San Diego. Retrieved June 2, 2015.
    Millburn, Mike (April 3, 2015). "MCRD San Diego to name facility after Jerry Coleman". KUSI. San Diego. Retrieved June 2, 2015.
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