Through all the joy and celebrating of two big wins in San Diego with the Chargers victory over the Bengals and the impressive win by San Diego State over Kansas came the heartbreaking news of Jerry Coleman’s death. For me growing up as a Padres fan, hearing Jerry every year coming from Yuma for the start of spring training always meant optimism for what I would hope was a great season to come. He was the voice of my beloved Padres and all was right in Padre Land when Jerry was on the air. As I became involved in covering the Padres for AP Radio and Metro Networks, I got to interact with Jerry on a regular basis at Petco Park as he would sit either next to me or just across the aisle and we would share stories of everything from current Padres to those of the past and even from memories of Jerry’s Yankees days. It’s those times I will remember forever. Jerry’s life speaks for itself: war hero, Padres icon etc but it was the man behind all of those accomplishments that outweighs everything else. He was truly one of the most amazing persons I have ever met and I thank him for all he did for this country and for the Padres and its fans – RIP Jerry, you will be missed. You touched many people’s lives and was admired by even more. As I sit here, remembering Jerry I am thinking of him being greeted in Heaven by his former Yankee teammates and then by former Padres owner Ray Kroc who asks Jerry about the last 30 years of “his team” – The thought of Jerry telling Ray what has happened to the Padres and that the O’Malley family owns them and that the brown was replaced with blue makes me laugh at how Ray would take that news. But the trusting voice of Jerry calms Ray by reassuring him that the Padres are in good hands!
As the Padres plan to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their first NL Championship in 2014, one can’t help to think back to January of that year when we lost Ray and how the year played out here in San Diego. Hopefully we can honor Jerry’s memory in the same way we did Ray’s then.