Jerry Coleman Dies: Yankees Former Second Baseman, Broadcaster Was 89

Monday, 06 Jan 2014 03:34 PM

By Michael Mullins

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Jerry Coleman, the former New York Yankees second baseman and longtime sports broadcaster, died Sunday. He was 89.

Coleman, who interrupted his Major League Baseball career to fly as a Marine Corps pilot in World War II and Korea, underwent surgery shortly before Christmas for bleeding in the brain, a source told The Associated Press. No further details as to what caused the bleeding were released by the source.

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In addition to his time with the Yankees, Coleman managed the San Diego Padres in 1980, and was the team's broadcaster for more than four decades.

"It's a sad day," Padres manager Bud Black told the AP. "We're losing a San Diego icon. He's going to be missed. ... He was a wonderful human being and a great guy."

The Padres kept Coleman's statue at Petco Park open until 11:30 p.m. Sunday so that fans could pay tribute to him into the night.

During the statue's unveiling, which took place in September 2012, Coleman said, "Your country is bigger than baseball."

Coleman flew 120 missions between the two wars, for which he was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses, 13 Air Medals and three Navy Citations. He retired from the Marines with the rank of lieutenant colonel, giving way to his common Petco Park nickname "The Colonel," the AP noted.

"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's best season was in 1950. While playing alongside the likes of Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Phil Rizzuto, and Johnny Mize, he was named MVP of the Yankees' four-game sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series.

"Oh, Doctor!" and "You can hang a star on that!" were among Coleman's most famous baseball catchphrases.

Coleman is survived by his wife, Maggie, and two daughters.

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