Jerry Coleman – former MLB second-baseman with the New York Yankees and longtime broadcaster for the San Diego Padres – has died. He passed away yesterday at 89.
Coleman’s career in MLB was interrupted – like Ted Williams, when recalled to the USMC for service in Korea. However, unlike Ted Williams Coleman had flown in combat previously. Prior to his career in baseball, Coleman had flown combat missions for the USMC in World War II, and did so again in Korea. He was reputedly the only MLB player to see combat in both wars. He retired from the USMC Reserve as a Lieutenant Colonel, giving rise to his nickname “The Colonel” among his professional colleagues within the San Diego organization.
Coleman’s military awards included two Distinguished Flying Crosses, 13 Air Medals, and 3 Navy Citations (I’m pretty sure this was the forerunner of the Navy Commendation Medal; Navy types, correction please if I’m wrong). He was no slouch as a ballplayer or broadcaster either; he was the MVP of the 1950 World Series, and received the Ford C. Frick Award in 2005 for his contributions to baseball as a broadcaster.
Coleman was honored by the San Diego Padres with a statue near PETCO Park in 2012. When interviewed about his military career shortly before the statue was unveiled, he remarked: “Your country is bigger than baseball.”
Truly a life well-lived. Rest in peace, my elder brother-in-arms. Rest in peace.