Saving Jerry Coleman

The other night I sent the following request to our small corner of the world:

I thought this was a great question from Gaslamp Ball because, well really, what do we do now? While the Padres have been finished for awhile, the 2013 officially came to its conclusion last night when the Boston Red Sox defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in game six of the World Series. With the Hot Stove season upon us . . . what now?

Rick and I each gave our suggestions for our fellow fans during the Padres and Pints podcast but as Melvin completed his thoughts an idea came to me:

“Let’s start a petition to move the Colonel’s statue from that shady hellhole next to the Tilted Kilt.”

For those of you who don’t know, Tony Gwynn is not the only person with a statue inside of Petco Park. In September of 2012, Colonel Jerry Coleman – longtime announcer and one time manager of the San Diego Padres – was honored with a statue right inside of the park near the East Village Gate entrance. The statue is not of him in a Yankees uniform from his playing days nor is it of him in announcers garb, dangling a star for fans to see. It is a statue of Jerry Coleman in his Marine Corps pilot gear.

Jerry Coleman Statue

On September 16th, 2012, MLB.com’s Corey Brock wrote the following*:

The statue depicts Coleman in the way he wanted — in a Marine fighter uniform, modeled after the one he wore during harrowing bombing missions in World War II and later in Korea. Coleman is the only Major League player to have seen combat in two wars.

In my opinion, the unveiling of a statue commemorating Colonel Coleman’s military service and his time in baseball (New York and San Diego), is one of the things that former CEO Tom Garfinkel really got right during his short stay in San Diego.

*Click that link and watch the video tribute to Mr. Coleman. I defy you not to get teary eyed.

The what, where, who, gate?

But here’s the problem: Where’s the East Village entrance?

The East Village entrance is the one by the Tilted Kilt which enters from the east side of the Park in the Park. The East Village gate is the least trafficked gate in the park. I don’t have hard data from the Padres front office to support this claim but I do have empirical evidence based on attending Petco Park regularly over the past 10 seasons.

I spent 2004-2008 entering the park from the 7th Avenue/ Tony Gwynn Drive entrance next to the Western Metal Supply building. I routinely waited in long lines to get into the park during this stretch of years. During the last 5 seasons I have either entered at the home plate entrance or from the East Village Gate and I can honestly say that if you desire ease of access the EVG is where it’s at. But for whatever reason people just don’t choose to use that gate (My observations tell me that it has a whole lot to do with the proximity of parking garages to this gate).

Cut to the chase

What does this all mean in more stark terms? One of the most beloved figures in franchise history, Colonel Jerry Coleman, is honored in a location that very few fans ever see – a shady hellhole next to the Tilted Kilt.

Could one go on a pilgrimage through the park to find the Colonel? Sure, in fact, it sounds like a lot of fun for someone who hasn’t been to the park! But what about the young Padres fans out there – the ones who need to see these small parts of franchise history? Do their parents have time to redirect their efforts during a visit to Petco to go find the Colonel? Heck no. Taking small children to a game is no easy task and it is an event that often consists of A to B lines of movement which makes visiting the Colonel a challenge. Even from the Park in the Park, where families with young children often sit, the Colonel’s statue is obscured and hidden from fan view.

The Padres must move the Colonel to a location where it can bask in the San Diego sun for all fans to see. Move his statue to the home plate gate so the majority of fans entering the park can see it – maybe at the base of the stairs or near the top of the stairs by the . . . waterfall?

Where else in the park could you envision one of our favorite people in franchise history?

***

I contribute to Padres Public on Thursday mornings and when I’m feeling particularly inspired or just outraged by the location of statues. I can also be found on twitter at @AvengingJM. The dusty archives of AJM are located at avengingjm.blogspot.com

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  • ItsDis

    Not to be contrary, but I use that gate probably 80% of the time.

    • You are but one human. Aren’t you?

      • SDPads1

        I use that gate 99.9% of the time. But the statue is located IN A SHADY HELL HOLE!!! It’s a travesty that they put it there as most people will easily walk right by it without ever knowing it was there. HORRIBLE planning on the Padres part.

      • ItsDis

        Yeah, regardless of that gate usage, it needs to be more prominent.

  • Lonnie Brownell

    I say make duplicates, and put one at each gate. The Colonel as the Official Brass Greeter of the Padres.

    BTW, our family enters at the EVG most of the time, too, because we park in the Padres Parkade so we can charge our EV there (thanks Garf). Otherwise, we park in one of the lots on Imperial, where it’s about 50-50 if we go into the EVG or Home Plate gate.

  • Sac Bunt Melvin

    I used the centerfield gate for the first time this season. It was weird since I never know if it’s going to be open or not. I thought because of that fact the line would be short, but was I ever wrong! They only had one bag checking station, and it was the Yankees weekend game so we waited forever to get through.