User ID
Password
  Forgot User ID
or Register Today!
VegasInsider.com
Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us on Google+ VI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds
Home
NFL
NBA
NHL
MLB
NCAA FB
NCAA BK
Golf
Auto Racing
Horses
More
Betting Tools

 
Former Yankee, Marine pilot Coleman dies

New Sportsbook.ag customers: Make your 1st bet, get your 2nd bet free, 100%, winnings paid in cash.
Join Now

Already have an account? Click here to view new Exclusive Rewards!

SAN DIEGO (AP) - Hall of Fame broadcaster Jerry Coleman, a former second baseman for the New York Yankees who interrupted his pro career to fly as a Marine Corps pilot in World War II and Korea, died Sunday, the San Diego Padres said. He was 89.

Advertisement
Coleman spent more than four decades with the Padres as a broadcaster. He managed the team in 1980.

Padres president Mike Dee said Coleman died at a hospital Sunday afternoon. He said the team was notified by Coleman's wife, Maggie.

A family friend told The Associated Press on Sunday night that Coleman had surgery before Christmas for bleeding in the brain. Doctors discovered more bleeding last week and Coleman had more surgery, said the friend, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the situation.

''It's a sad day,'' Padres manager Bud Black said. ''We're losing a San Diego icon. He's going to be missed.''

The Padres planned to keep Coleman's statue at Petco Park open until 11:30 p.m. Sunday so fans could pay tribute.

While recounting his military career in an interview days before the statue was unveiled in September 2012, Coleman said: ''Your country is bigger than baseball.''

Coleman spent some seven decades in pro baseball, a career that included four World Series titles with the Yankees and was interrupted by his service in World War II and the Korean War.

He flew 120 missions combined in the two wars. Coleman was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses, 13 Air Medals and three Navy Citations.

Around Petco Park and on Padres radio broadcasts, Coleman was known as ''The Colonel,'' having retired from the Marines with the rank of lieutenant colonel. He was the only major leaguer to see combat in two wars.

''He was a wonderful human being and a great guy,'' Black said. ''He was one of a kind. He sort of blazed his own path from San Francisco and ended up as a war hero and a major league ballplayer and doing so many things in our game. As much as he's remembered for all he accomplished as a baseball man, he was more proud of his military service.''

Coleman's broadcast schedule had been reduced to home day games. He also did a pregame interview with Black, who said Coleman was self-deprecating and preferred to talk about the Padres rather than anything he'd done with the Yankees or in the Marines.

''You wouldn't know it walking down the street that he was a World Series champion and also a guy that flew fighter planes,'' Black said.

Coleman was known for calls of ''Oh, Doctor!'' and ''You can hang a star on that!'' after big plays. He received the Ford C. Frick Award from the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005.

He also was known for malaprops, like the time he was describing Dave Winfield going back for a long fly ball.

''I said, `Winfield hit his head against the wall and it's rolling toward the infield.' I meant the ball, of course,'' Coleman said in 2012.

In a statement, commissioner Bud Selig said Coleman ''was a hero and a role model to myself and countless others in the game of baseball. ... But above all, Jerry's decorated service to our country in both World War II and Korea made him an integral part of the Greatest Generation. He was a true friend whose counsel I valued greatly.''

After graduating from high school in 1942, Coleman traveled three days by train from San Francisco to Wellsville, N.Y., to report to the New York Yankees' Class D affiliate.

Still 17, he was too young to enlist and fight in World War II, so he got to spend the summer playing ball. After he joined the military, he flew Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bombers in the Pacific in World War II. He played three more seasons of minor league ball before making his big league debut with the Yankees on April 20, 1949. He was The Associated Press' Rookie of the Year that season.

Coleman's best season was 1950, when he was an All-Star and was named MVP of the Yankees' four-game sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series. Among his teammates were Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Phil Rizzuto and Johnny Mize.

''We won the first game 1-0 and I drove in that run,'' Coleman recalled in 2012. ''We won the second game 2-1. I scored one of the two runs and DiMaggio hit a home run in the 10th to win it. In the third game I drove in the winning run in the last inning, and in the fourth game I rested.''

By ''rested,'' he means he went 0 for 3. ''I was exhausted,'' he said.

In October 1951, Coleman found out that Marine pilots from World War II were not discharged, but on inactive status and that he'd be going to Korea for 18 months. He missed the bulk of two seasons.

Coleman said he took his physical along with Ted Williams in Jacksonville in 1952. Williams, a San Diego native, also was a Marine pilot in World War II, but didn't see combat duty. He did fly combat missions in Korea.

When Coleman returned to the Yankees, he hit only .217. He was sent to an eye doctor, who told him he'd lost his depth perception.

''If you're trying to hit a baseball and you don't have depth perception, you have a problem,'' Coleman said.

He got that corrected but then broke his collarbone in April 1955. The night he came back from that injury, he got beaned.

His last season was 1957, when he hit .364 in a seven-game World Series loss to the Milwaukee Braves.

Coleman worked in the Yankees' front office before beginning a broadcasting career that eventually brought him to San Diego.

''First and foremost, he was an American hero whose service to this country is his lasting legacy. He was also a great Yankee, a true ambassador for baseball, and someone whose imprint on our game will be felt for generations,'' Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said. ''On behalf of the entire New York Yankees organization, we send our deepest condolences to the Coleman family.''

Coleman managed the Padres in 1980, when they went 73-89 and finished last in the NL West. Coleman was fired and returned to the booth.

''I should never have taken it,'' he said. ''I look at it now and see the mistakes I made. If I wanted to be a manager, I should have gone to the minor leagues and developed there.''

Coleman's statue at Petco Park depicts him in a flight suit.

Coleman said the closest he came to being killed was in Korea when the engine in his Corsair quit during takeoff and his plane flipped. He preferred to talk about his comrades.

Coleman remembered a mission over Korea when a plane piloted by his buddy, Max Harper, blew up and flew straight into the ground.

''I knew there was no need for help. It was an unpleasant thing,'' Coleman said.

In describing the two-seat Dauntless he flew in the Solomon Islands and the Philippines, Coleman said the gunner ''was the bravest man I knew. If I did something wrong, he died, too.''

Longtime San Francisco Giants broadcaster Duane Kuiper mentioned the various halls of fame Coleman belonged to and added: ''More than anything he's just a Hall of Fame guy. If he had a bad day, it was never around us. He was always in a good mood. He was quite funny. Northern California guy. Really just a great guy. I'm shocked and saddened that he passed away.

''Here's a guy, what didn't he do in life?'' Kuiper said.

---

AP Baseball Writer Janie McCauley in San Francisco contributed to this report.

---

Follow Bernie Wilson on Twitter at http://twitter.com/berniewilson

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

  
HEADLINES
Rogers: Thursday's Tip Sheet
Akins: Diamond Trends - Thursday
Lawrence: August Pitchers Report
Rose: Who's Hot - NL Edition
Tigers acquire ace Price from Rays
A's acquire Lester, Gomes for Cespedes
Red Sox trade Lackey to Cardinals
D-backs send OF Parra to Brewers
M's acquire OF Denorfia from Padres
MORE HEADLINES
 
Why Buy Picks From VegasInsider.com
MLB Pro Baseball Handicapper Sports Picks Records
MLB Hot Streaks
7-1 Y'day, 20-8 G-Plays, +8,568 TY
6-0 L6 Guarantees, 15-6 L7 Days
5-0 +599 Run, +2,568 This Year
6-1 L3 Days, 27-13 +1,730 L40
15-5 L20 Totals, +2,499 This Year
15-7 +918 L22, +2,573 TY
18-7 L25 Guarantees, +1,795 TY
7-3 L10 Over/Under Plays
2-0 Yesterday, +2,059 Totals TY
7-4 L11 Totals, +2,095 TY
25-14 Last 39 Selections
7-3, +449 L10 Guaranteed Plays
MLB Pro Baseball Expert Sports Picks - Atlanta Braves at Los Angeles Dodgers
2014 MLB SEASON PICK RECORDS
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 8568
John Fisher + 2573
Dave Cokin + 2568
Underdog Leaders
Handicapper Money
Bruce Marshall + 3259
James Manos + 2542
Dave Cokin + 1776
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 2464
Matt Zylbert + 2059
Tony Stoffo + 1322
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Dave Cokin + 1448
Doc's Sports + 1237
Kyle Hunter + 976
Favorite Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 3889
Doc's Sports + 1607
Kevin Rogers + 1364
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Mike Rose + 2292
The Gold Sheet + 1052
Bruce Marshall + 946
MORE PICK RECORDS
  
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!