Jerry Coleman, who had been a San Diego Padres broadcaster since 1972, passed away on Sunday at the age of 89. Coleman's career in baseball stretched back 71 years, beginning as a player (and later a broadcaster) with the New York Yankees. He was a member of four Yankees World Championship teams, and called Yankees games on the radio for seven years in the 1960s.
But outside of baseball, Coleman was a war hero. The former Marine served in both World War II and the Korean War – the only Major League player to see active duty in multiple wars. During his service as an aviator, he received two Distinguished Flying Crosses, among other honors.
In recent years, Coleman had scaled back his commitments with the Padres, but was still a beloved member of the organization. Coleman is just one of two people to be honored with a statue outside of Petco Park, along with Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn. Coleman's broadcast partner, Ted Leitner, said that his heart was broken over the loss of his friend.
Across people, reactinos were similar. Legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully said, "we were much richer for having known him." Baseball Hall of Famer Johnny Bench said that his heart was sore over Coleman's passing. In a statement, Yankees managing partner Hal Steinbrenner called Coleman "a true ambassador for Baseball", and proclaimed that Coleman's "impact on our game would be felt for ages". MLB Comissioner Bud Selig said that Coleman was "a hero and a role model to myself and countless others in the game of Baseball."
We leave you with a pair of Coleman's most famous calls – Mickey Mantle's 500th career home run, and Tony Gwynn's 3,000th career hit.