If I live 1/1000th of the life Jerry Coleman did, then I say job well done. The stories and tributes that have come out this week about our beloved Jerry have been such a blessing to read. What an awesome life. He was a humble hero that gave Padres fans hope. We listened to his words. He painted a picture of the game we love and he did it with character and grace. Character was something Mr. Coleman was in no short supply. And boy do we miss him already. But that’s okay, he is a Padres ambassador forever. He is an American ambassador forever. He will always be the voice of the Padres. And he will always be a hero.
I love the San Diego Padres, and from 1999 to 2003, I had the privilege of working for my home town team in the media relations department. For the first three years, I worked exclusively in the press box for every single Padres home game. My job was to make copies, get stats, put out press releases, and help out all the press with whatever they needed. It was a stressful and manic job and I loved it. I got to work with Jerry Coleman on a daily basis. He was one of the first ones to arrive each day to the press box. I would personally deliver him the daily game notes, stat packs, the latest press releases, and lineup cards. Sometimes he would have the lineup before all of us because he got there so damn early and already made a visit to the clubhouse. Because Jerry was punctual, those late afternoons were a good time for him to catch a little nap in the press box before the game. And I never bothered him, he earned his nap.
He was so gracious to guests who would stop by the press box. Shaking hands, taking pictures, signing autographs, letting people sit in for the broadcast. People would be in awe, and I don’t blame them, this is a legend we are talking about! I look back at those days in the press box, working with Jerry everyday, helping Dave (Jerry’s engineer) getting the famous star from the closet ready to swing away on a fantastic Padres play, hearing that most recognizable voice in the hallway and I have to tell you, it was one of the highlights of my life. He was always professional and treated me and everyone around him with respect. So many memories that I will cherish forever. I had the true honor of working with Mr. Jerry Coleman.
Here are my two favorite calls from the Colonel. Two of the biggest moments in Padres history that will always be remembered with Jerry narrating in the best of ways. God Bless you Jerry. My colleague. My hero.
“And the Padres drape the National League flag around their shoulders for 1998! Oooooh Doctor!”
“Oh Doctor! You can hang a star on that baby! A star for the ages for Tony Gwynn! Number 3,000!”