Sunday, January 05, 2014
R.I.P. Jerry Coleman
I loved Jerry.
He was your favorite uncle. Always cheerful, always there for you. His passion for the game of baseball was infectious and his zest for life was inspiring. Other than having to broadcast meaningless spring training games, I can’t think of anything Jerry Coleman didn’t view in a positive light. You can see why it was such a pleasure to be around this man.
He was also incredibly humble. To baseball fans of a certain age, Jerry was a God in New York. Whenever we would go into New York to play the Mets, the pressbox attendants and TV tech people treated Jerry as if he were Prince Charles. And yet he always downplayed it. He shook everyone’s hand, asked how they were, and joked with them.
When my son Matt was bar mitzvahed Jerry drove up to Los Angeles to attend the reception. When we were on the road I picked his brain for hours, and he graciously and patiently answered all of my questions. A lot of what I know about baseball I learned from “the Colonel.”
Jerry is known of course for his malapropos. A typical example: "Winfield goes back to the wall. He hits his head on the wall and it rolls off! It's rolling all the way back to second base! This is a terrible thing for the Padres." But truthfully, calling play-by-play for three hours every day, every baseball announcer has those. I’ve had my fair share, believe me. Many way more embarrassing. What I learned (from Jerry) is to take it in good humor. It all goes back to not taking yourself too seriously. Thank you, Jerry.
Jerry Coleman worked Padres games up until his death. He led a rich full life. He would often point out how lucky he was. So many of his friends had died young in a war. He lived to be 89 in relatively good health. There was not one day he didn't appreciate his good fortune.
I will miss him greatly. And I can almost hear him. “At least I won’t have to do the damn spring training games from Peoria.”
RIP Jerry Coleman. You will forever be a Hall of Famer.