Coleman's toss highlights opener's festivities

Coleman's toss highlights opener's festivities

Coleman's toss highlights opener's festivities
SAN DIEGO -- Longtime radio broadcaster Jerry Coleman threw out the first pitch before the Padres opened the 2012 season against the Dodgers on Thursday at Petco Park, but cleverly found a way to give his 86-year-old right arm the best chance possible to throw a strike.

Coleman, a Hall of Fame broadcaster who is in his 70th season of professional baseball and 40th with the Padres, marched to the top of the mound, smiled and then walked back to the edge of the grass in front of the mound before firing a strike to manager Bud Black.

"I took about 10 feet off the mound so that I didn't kill myself," Coleman said, smiling. "But it was great. I was very flattered they asked me to do it."

Coleman's toss was one highlight of the pregame ceremony before a sold-out crowd on a sun-kissed day at the Padres' downtown ballpark.

Television play-by-play announcer Dick Enberg emceed the ceremony, which celebrated San Diego, the military and baseball.

The national anthem was performed by the Navy Band Southwest. There was also the unfurling of the Holiday Bowl Big Flag, which was held by 225 sailors from the USS Peleliu, and a flyover of Marine Corps Harrier jets from Marine Attack Squadron 311 (VMA-311) out of Yuma, Ariz.

Also, Cmdr. Abe Thompson from the Navy's Third Fleet was set to perform "God Bless America" before the seventh-inning stretch.

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.