The year was 1984.
The Padres were in the midst of their first run to respectability and their first World Series. However, during the 1984 season, fans did not know this yet. We knew this was a good Padres team, and we also knew the LA Dodgers were the “big boys” in Southern California baseball.
This is the backdrop to my favorite Jerry Coleman story – My favorite story because it is one I was lucky enough to witness personally.
In 1984, my mother and Jerry’s wife Maggie were working together on a charitable event for KPBS , and they became friendly. When Maggie Coleman heard about our family’s love of baseball, she arranged for Jerry to invite us to join him in the radio booth to watch a Padres game. A game that happened to be against the LA Dodgers.
The Padres radio booth at the then Jack Murphy Stadium (before it was renamed Qualcomm Stadium) had some seats in the back where guests could watch the game. So there I was, watching the Padres play the Dodgers with Jerry Coleman and Dave “Soup” Campbell calling the game right in front of me and my parents.
The Padres radio booth was right next to the visiting team’s radio booth, which on that day housed the legendary Dodgers broadcaster – Vin Scully.
The Dodgers took a big early lead over the Padres, and between innings Vin Scully leaned around the wall separating the two radio booths to talk a little trash. “How about this Dodgers team? Pretty good aren’t they?” he bragged.
Typical Dodgers stuff. At the time, the Dodgers were baseball royalty, coming off a successful run in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s; and the Padres were – well pre-1984, the Padres were not very good. The Dodgers were condescending, and the Padres were used to taking insults from LA.
Well this was 1984, and this Padres team was pretty good – eventually World Series good. And as the Atlanta Braves could attest later in the season (see the infamous Padres-Braves brawl), this Padres team had some fight in it.
As luck would have it, the Padres came back and eventually won the game despite the Dodgers big lead. A sign that a better brand of baseball was being played in San Diego.
After the Padres victory, and after Jerry Coleman had turned the broadcast over to the post-game show, Jerry leaned over to the Dodgers radio booth and said, ‘Vin, I don’t think your team is quite as good as you think they are.”
Boom – Classic Jerry Coleman.
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