Jerry Coleman, War Hero, World Series Star and Hall of Fame Broadcaster, Dead at 89

He played on four Yankees World Series champs despite two military stints interrupting his career and called San Diego Padres games for 33 years

Jerry Coleman, who was a decorated war hero, a Yankees World Series star and later a Hall of Fame broadcaster, died Sunday at the age of 89.

His death was announced by the San Diego Padres baseball team, for whom he had called games for 33 years.

“We send our heartfelt sympathy to the entire Coleman family, including his wife, Maggie, his children and grandchildren. On behalf of Padres’ fans everywhere, we mourn the loss of a Marine who was truly an American hero as well as a great man, a great friend and a great Padre,” the team said in a statement.

Coleman was a Marine Corps combat veteran of World War II and the Korean War, who flew more than 120 combat missions and was awarded two Disinguished Flying Crosses. That limited his baseball career to nine seasons in the majors, but despite the military stints, he played second base on four Yankees teams that won the World Series.

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Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement that Coleman was a hero and a role model to him and others.

“He had a memorable, multifaceted career in the National Pastime – as an All-Star during the great Yankees dynasty from 1949-1953, a manager and, for more than half a century, a beloved broadcaster, and an exemplary ambassador for the San Diego Padres.

jerry coleman pilot“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.”

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Coleman began broadcasting for the Padres in 1972 and spent 33 years in his assignment. He began in broadcasting after his playing career, working for CBS, the Yankees and Los Angeles Angels before landing in San Diego. He even managed the Padres to a 79-83 record in 1980.

He received the Ford C. Frick Award in 2005 and entered the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2007.

“People loved Jerry and respected him, because you could tell from listening to him what a wonderful person he was,” legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully told the UT of San Diego. “I considered it a great privilege for me to be one of those who voted for Jerry’s induction into Cooperstown. What a life!”