Lovers of baseball history and fans of the San Diego Padres would definitely enjoy visiting the new Padres Hall of Fame at Petco Park. Inside, one can see many great exhibits concerning baseball in San Diego.
I checked out the Padres Hall of Fame last weekend during the Celebrate San Diego event. Here’s just a small preview of what you’ll see…
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Today, an estimated 5000 people turned out for the public memorial service celebrating the life of the late Jerry Coleman. The service took place at Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres. “The Colonel” had been the central figure in the Padres baseball organization for over four decades. Jerry’s broadcasting voice will be missed by generations of fans. An excellent argument can be made that he was the most loved public figure in the history of our city.
I apologize that my camera isn’t of the highest quality. I do hope you enjoy a few images that I captured.
Dick Enberg noted that the stage was located on Jerry’s favorite spot: second base. After the playing of the National Anthem by the Marine Band, F-18 fighter jets roared overhead in the missing man formation.
After speeches by Randy Jones, Bob Chandler, Ron Fowler and Ron Roberts, fan-favorite former Padres player Tim Flannery sang his own stirring composition about Jerry Coleman, the man who hung the stars.
Joe Torre received great applause when he related a few humorous and touching old Yankees stories, and spoke of Jerry Coleman’s heroism and humility.
Ted Leitner, Jerry’s broadcast partner for many years, brought laughter and tears with his intimate accounts of a baseball legend’s modest personality and funny quirks. He concluded that Jerry Coleman was the best man he’d ever known.
After a salute by the Marine Corps, a T-6 SNJ aircraft from 1942, similar to the one Coleman flew in World War II passed overhead to honor the former Marine.
Jerry’s daughter Chelsea then spoke about her dad. She said that all he really lived for was his country, the game of baseball, and the people he loved. Dick Enberg concluded the memorial by saying that we all were fortunate to be part of the legacy of Jerry Coleman.
I loved the cheerful voice of Jerry Coleman. The good humor, dignity and optimism it conveyed during Padres broadcasts were an important part of my life. I listened to that voice for over thirty years.
Jerry Coleman was a remarkable man. He was both a genuine war hero and genuine baseball superstar. There was nothing phony or inflated about his life achievements. And he remained humble. He didn’t have a trace of conceit. He simply loved life, his family and country.
In a world where many self-centered people are hungry for fame, and make fools of themselves to achieve it, I think it was the humility of this truly legendary man that made him so loved by ordinary San Diegans. That and his simple good humor.
I never met him. But losing Jerry Coleman feels like losing a friend.
Another very well-liked person in San Diego is Padres radio announcer Jerry Coleman. His accomplishments have been so impressive, he’s got a statue and memorial at Petco Park, just inside the east entrance to the Park at the Park.
I remembering listening to Jerry when I was a kid. At the time he did the Padres radio play-by-play, and was teamed with Dave Campbell who provided color commentary. Today, at the lively age of 89, he takes part in the broadcast during day games.
Jerry, also known as “The Colonel”, was named major league baseball Rookie of the Year in 1949 as Yankees second baseman. In 1950 his defensive plays made him most valuable player in the World Series.
As a Marine aviator, Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Coleman interrupted his baseball career to serve in the Korean War. He flew 120 combat missions and received two Distinguished Flying Crosses. He also flew during World War II, making him the only major league baseball player to serve in two wars.
Jerry, famous for his enthusiastic phrases “Oh, Doctor!” and “You can hang a star on that baby!” was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2007.