Jerry Coleman died on Sunday at age 89, prompting an outpouring of condolences for the legendary baseball announcer.
Coleman had a career in pro baseball that spanned more than 70 years, including four World Series titles during his playing career with the New York Yankees. Coleman won his titles between stints in the United States Marine Corps, where he served in World War II and the Korean War as a pilot, flying 120 missions.
It was actually his service in the Korean War that brought about the end of his playing career, Coleman’s announcing partner Bob Chandler recalled.
“I mean, he really cut short his baseball career for the second World War, and the Korean War. The Korean War is really what ended his career. Flying in one of his missions, his best friend was in an airplane right in front of his and he got blown out of the sky.”
After his playing career, Jerry Coleman became the voice of the San Diego Padres in 1972.
“It’s hard to put into words what Jerry meant to this franchise,” said Padres president Mike Dee.
On Sunday, the Padres released an official statement about the broadcaster’s death:
“The San Diego Padres are deeply saddened by the news today of the passing of Jerry Coleman. We send our heartfelt sympathy to the entire Coleman family, including his wife, Maggie, his children and grandchildren. On behalf of Padres’ fans everywhere, we mourn the loss of a Marine who was truly an American hero as well as a great man, a great friend and a great Padre.”
Coleman was plucked from the broadcast booth in 1980 to manage the team, and in 2012, the Padres unveiled a statue in his honor at the stadium.
There was such an outpouring from fans that Padres officials decided to open the gates of Petco Park on Sunday. Many fans came to pay their respects to Jerry Coleman, with some leaving flowers and other mementos.