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Beloved Padres Sportscaster Memorialized Saturday Morning

Patch file photo
Patch file photo

A public memorial service for beloved Padres broadcaster and Marine veteran Jerry Coleman is scheduled this morning at Petco Park.

The celebration of Coleman's life will feature special guests, according to the Padres.

Coleman died Jan. 5 at age 89 from complications from a fall last month, coupled with a bout of pneumonia. He was laid to rest Monday at Miramar National Cemetery with full military honors.

The stadium gates will open at 9:30 a.m. Fans can enter through the East Village gate on 10th Avenue or the Park Boulevard gate.

Free parking will be provided in three locations: two surface lots along Imperial Avenue -- the Parcel C lot and Tailgate lot -- on the southeast side of Petco Park, and the Padres Parkade garage at 10th Avenue and J Street.

Coleman began his professional baseball career in 1942 as a New York Yankees minor leaguer and made his big league debut in 1949. He played nine seasons as a second baseman and was a member of six World Series teams.

In 1950, Coleman was selected the World Series' Most Valuable Player after the Yankees swept the Philadelphia Phillies. He also was an American League All-Star that year.

The La Jolla resident retired from professional baseball after the 1957 season with a lifetime .263 average, 16 home runs and 217 runs batted in during 723 games.

Like many players of his era, Coleman interrupted his professional baseball career twice to serve in the military. However, he was the only one to see combat in both World War II and the conflict in Korea -- as a Marine pilot.

Coleman earned two Distinguished Flying Crosses, 13 Air Medals and three Navy citations before retiring as a lieutenant colonel. He was often referred to by his nickname, “The Colonel.”

Coleman made a transition to the broadcast booth in 1960, and in 1972, he became lead radio play-by-play announcer for the Padres, a role he held every year except 1980, which he spent as the team's manager.

He also called national regular season games for CBS Radio until the 1990s.

In 2005, Coleman received the National Baseball Hall of Fame's prestigious Ford C. Frick Award, given to a broadcaster who has made “major contributions to baseball.”

Team officials said this past season was Coleman's 40th, and he still stirred fans with his patented “Oh Doctor!” and “Hang a Star!” calls, which became signatures of Padres baseball.

He was inducted into the Padres Hall of Fame in 2001, the U.S. Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame in 2005 and both the National Radio Hall of Fame in Chicago and the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.

The Coleman family suggests fans who want to make a donation in his memory  give to the Semper Fi Fund, a nonprofit that provides immediate financial assistance and lifetime support for injured and critically ill members of the armed forces and their families.

Information about the fund is online at www.semperfifund.org.

—City News Service

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