Fans will have the opportunity today to pay their respects to iconic Padres broadcaster Jerry Coleman at a free public memorial service at Petco Park. Gates will open at 9:30 a.m. PT, and the service is scheduled to begin one hour later.
Coleman, who spent 71 years as a ballplayer and a broadcaster, passed away Sunday at the age of 89.
The service will celebrate Coleman's life and accomplishments, both on and off the field. The event will also feature special guests whose lives were touched in one way or another by Coleman.
Fans planning to attend the service may enter through the East Village gate on 10th Ave. or the Park Boulevard gate. Free parking is available at the two surface lots along Imperial Avenue (Parcel C and Tailgate lot), as well as the Padres Parkade garage.
For those who would like to make a donation in Coleman's memory, the Coleman family suggests the Semper Fi Fund (www.semperfifund.org). The Semper Fi Fund, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, was created by a group of Marine Corps spouses nine years ago to provide immediate financial assistance and lifetime support for injured and critically ill members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families.
Elected to the Padres' Hall of Fame in 2001, Coleman always tried to deflect any type of praise bestowed upon him. Whether it was for winning the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting in 2005, or his decorated military career, Coleman preferred to stay out of the spotlight.
Prior to entering the broadcast booth, Coleman was an infielder for the Yankees from 1949-57. While trying to put together a successful baseball career, Coleman also served in World War II and the Korean conflict, making him the only active Major League player to see combat in two separate military conflicts.
Commissioner Bud Selig issued the following statement Sunday night after hearing news of Coleman's passing:
"Jerry Coleman was a hero and a role model to myself and countless others in the game of baseball. He had a memorable, multifaceted career in the National Pastime -- as an All-Star during the great Yankees' dynasty from 1949-1953, a manager and, for more than a half-century, a beloved broadcaster, including as an exemplary ambassador for the San Diego Padres. But above all, Jerry's decorated service to our country in both World War II and Korea made him an integral part of the greatest generation. He was a true friend whose counsel I valued greatly.
"Major League Baseball began its support of Welcome Back Veterans to honor the vibrant legacy of heroes like Jerry Coleman. Our entire sport mourns the loss of this fine gentleman, and I extend my deepest condolences to his family, friends, fans of the Padres and the Yankees, and his many admirers in baseball and beyond."
Following his playing career, Coleman first got into broadcasting in 1960. He started out calling the national game of the week for CBS, and later started calling Yankees games in '63. He later took a job as part of the Angels' broadcasting team before settling into a position in San Diego, where he became the lead broadcaster in 1972.
Coleman never left the position, in recent years calling Sunday afternoon games and weekday day games at Petco Park. He also spent many of his off-days at the ballpark, mingling in the clubhouse and talking to some of the countless players he had befriended over the years.
"Being around him, he was excited every day. He had energy and passion for the game," Padres third baseman Chase Headley said. "He was still very aware of what was going on [on the field]. You could have a conversation with him about a certain play and he'd be right on top of things. [Seeing him] was a bright spot every day."