Jerry Coleman was best-known to most as a long-time broadcaster for the San Diego Padres. But before his days in the booth he racked up a lot of other accomplishments. He was a war hero in WWII and Korea and he was an infielder for the New York Yankees.
Here is a list of facts about Jerry Coleman, who passed away Sunday at the age of 89.
Jerry Coleman was born in San Jose, California in 1924. He signed with the New York Yankees as an amateur free agent in 1942. He spent three years in the military, seeing active combat in WWII, before resuming his baseball career.
Made his major league debut with the Yankees in 1949. Finished 3rd in rookie of the year voting after posting a .275 batting average as a second baseman. Hit .250 in the World Series against Brooklyn, with four RBI and 3 doubles. The Yankees would go on to win the championship.
Coleman made the All Star team in 1950. He finished the year with a .287 average and 69 RBI. He hit .286 with 3 RBI in the World Series that year against the Phillies, claiming the World Series MVP award. The Yankees once again won the title.
Coleman interrupted his career a second time to serve his country in the Korean War, once again seeing live action as a flyer. In his military career, he would fly 120 missions, win two Distinguished Flying Crosses, 13 Air Medals and three Navy citations.
Would win two more titles as a member of the Yankees, in 1951 and 1956. He retired with a career .275 average in the Fall Classic, 19 hits in 69 at bats, with 6 doubles, 9 RBI and 6 runs.
Retired from baseball in 1957. Became lead announcer for the Padres in 1972. Took a hiatus from the broadcast booth in 1980 to serve as Padres manager, compiling a 79-83 record in one season.
Coleman was given the Ford C. Frick award by the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005. He became known over the years for his on-air gaffes, much like fellow beloved announcer Harry Caray, and also for his signature phrases including “Oh Doctor!”, “You can hang a star on that baby!”, “And the beat goes on”, and “The natives are getting restless.”
Coleman passed away after a brief illness. According to Baseball Reference’s similarity scores, he was a similar player to Craig Grebeck and D’Angelo Jimenez.
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