Jerry Coleman, a former MLB second baseman with the New York Yankees, longtime broadcaster for the San Diego Padres and World War II veteran, passed away on Sunday at the age of 89.
The MLB's official Twitter account reported the news, adding a story with comments from current Commissioner Bud Selig:
Commissioner Bud Selig on the passing of Jerry Coleman: http://t.co/8DGGq4SKYz— MLB (@MLB) January 6, 2014
Coleman passed away at Scripps Hospital after complications of head injuries he suffered in a fall in December. He was in and out of the hospital for treatment during that time.
Selig's comments in the story were not only about Coleman as a man or baseball player, but about the legacy that he left behind and the culture that he helped to create in MLB:
Jerry Coleman was a hero and a role model to myself and countless others in the game of Baseball. 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 a half-century, a beloved broadcaster, including as an exemplary ambassador for the San Diego Padres. 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.
Major League Baseball began its support of Welcome Back Veterans to honor the vibrant legacy of heroes like Jerry Coleman. Our entire sport mourns the loss of this fine gentleman, and I extend my deepest condolences to his family, friends, fans of the Padres and the Yankees, and his many admirers in Baseball and beyond.
The reactions from the sports world began flowing in following the announcement of Coleman's death. Players, sportswriters and even the Padres' official Twitter account began to tweet about the man they knew.
First were the Padres, who announced that Coleman's statue will remain open later for fans to visit:
The Jerry Coleman statue will remain open until 11:30 p.m. tonight for fans who would like to pay their respects. pic.twitter.com/lUkEiOsrM2— San Diego Padres (@Padres) January 5, 2014
Jake Peavy, who pitched for San Diego from 2002-09 and is currently with the Boston Red Sox, expressed his gratitude to a man he calls "genuine":
Incredibly saddened to hear of the passing of Jerry Coleman. As genuine & true of a man as I've ever been around in the game!— Jake Peavy (@JakePeavy_44) January 6, 2014
Jerry Posnanski, a national columnist for NBC Sports, tells about a side of Coleman other than just the great baseball player and announcer:
RIP Jerry Coleman, a great American, a wonderful storyteller and a all-around good guy.— Joe Posnanski (@JPosnanski) January 6, 2014
Keith Olbermann of ESPN also tweeted about the impact Coleman had on his life before his passing:
Jerry Coleman was one of the best people I've ever had the privilege of knowing.— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) January 6, 2014
Coleman was known mostly for the 42 years he spent with the San Diego organization as a broadcaster. The former Padres announcer was enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, was a four-time World Series Champion with the Yankees and won the Ford C. Frick Award back in 2005.
Along with Coleman, one of the most legendary broadcasters in the game today is Vin Scully, who has been the announcer for the Los Angeles Dodgers for 65 years. Chris Jenkins of U-T San Diego noted what Scully said he will remember most about Coleman as a broadcaster and the man he was:
Bottom line: People loved Jerry and respected him, because you could tell from listening to him what a wonderful person he was. I considered it a great privilege for me to be one of those who voted for Jerry’s induction into Cooperstown. What an amazing life.
Coleman was a man who was not only an exceptional broadcaster and baseball player, but was also a war hero. According to Jenkins, Coleman was a World War II bomber pilot with 57 missions flown in the Pacific.
After playing for just a few seasons in the MLB, he was forced to return to the Corps, flying another 60 missions in Korea, including surviving a horrific crash. Coleman is the only MLB player to see active combat in two separate wars.
The passing of Coleman marks a very sad day for not only the MLB, but for the sport of baseball as a whole.