San Diego, CA, United States (4E Sports) – Major League Baseball (MLB) expressed sadness over the passing of iconic broadcaster Jerry Coleman, who spent 71 years as a player and later as play-by-play announcer for the San Diego Padres. He was 89.
According to UT-San Diego, Coleman died at Scripps Hospital after complications of head injuries he suffered in a fall recently and that he had been in and out of the hospital.
“Jerry Coleman was a hero and a role model to myself and countless others in the game of Baseball,” Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement.
“He had a memorable, multifaceted career in the National Pastime — as an All-Star during the great Yankees’ dynasty from 1949-1953, a manager and, for more than a half-century, a beloved broadcaster, including as an exemplary ambassador for the San Diego Padres,” Selig added.
Selig also hailed Coleman’s service to the country in both World War II and Korea and expressed gratefulness over the friendship that they shared through the years.
“Our entire sport mourns the loss of this fine gentleman, and I extend my deepest condolences to his family, friends, fans of the Padres and the Yankees, and his many admirers in Baseball and beyond,” Selig said.
The Padres also expressed sadness over the passing of Coleman, who called games on radio for the team from 1972 through last season. The only exception was when he managed the team in 1980.
“Jerry was a great human being,” Padres manager Bud Black said. “What I loved about Jerry was he was a guy that truly loved life, loved being around the ballpark, loved the Padres, he was very well-liked within our clubhouse, stadium and the city.
Coleman was an infielder for the Yankees from 1949-57 and was the only active Major League player to see combat in two military conflicts — World War II and the Korean conflict. Coleman was elected to the Padres’ Hall of Fame in 2001.
Coleman, still nearly a year from turning 18, signed with the Yankees, as did Silvera, and they headed off to a Class D team in Wellsville, New York.
Coleman was an instant hit, batting .304 in 83 games, although he was merely biding his time until he was old enough to enlist in the Marines to become a fighter pilot.
Coleman returned from the war in 1946 and reported for Spring Training. Despite missing four seasons, Coleman played as though he hadn’t missed any time at all. He spent three seasons in the Minor Leagues before arriving in New York for good in 1949.
A shortstop by trade, Coleman hit .275 for the Yankees during his rookie year as a second baseman, teaming with Phil Rizzuto for a potent double-play combination.