Wednesday, January 29, 2014

You Stay Classy San Diego, and I'm glad I stopped by....

I'm sure you’ve heard by now either via social media or somewhere else, that I am no longer with the San Diego Padres organization.  I was not offered a new contract after mine expired at the end of the 2013 season.  I was notified a couple of weeks ago, that there had been a "restructuring" of the broadcasting department and that I would not be a part of things moving forward.  It was very disappointing to hear this news, as I did not want to leave the Padres organization.  Today, I'm thinking back to all the good memories from my time with the team, to dwell on the "other" seems counterproductive. 

It's been an emotional time for me, what with the passing of dear friend Jerry Coleman and now with the thought of saying so long to so many great people, it's been rough.  I welcome a challenge, it's something I've always done, something my parents taught me.  I will be fine. Trust me. 

All of my focus now is on the next chapter of my career and life.  It's never easy to embark on the unknown.  I had the same uneasiness 7 years ago, as I left the safety and comfort of my hometown to head to San Diego.  My trepidations turned out to be a waste of time.  I landed in a great spot.  Americas Finest City.  I quickly realized what a great town it was.  I've been lucky to call it home for the past number of years.  San Diego will always hold a soft spot in my heart.  But unfortunately it is time to move on.  

I will certainly miss you, the fans.  I have gotten to know many of you.  Your outpouring of love and support today on Facebook and Twitter, have this broadcaster at a complete loss for words. That's not an easy accomplishment.  I've interacted with many of you over the years on social media, but today, please forgive me, but it would be impossible to respond to all of you, and I won't be able to do it. I hope you understand.  I know that a broadcaster, especially a baseball play-by-play man, is charged with making a connection to the fans.  I've taken this responsibility very seriously, and you never know how you're doing at that job, until unfortunately a day like today.  Your comments have touched me, and I'm truly grateful.  I thank you all for making this guy from the Midwest feel so welcomed in your town and with your team, I can't tell you how much your support has meant to me.  You have given me the ultimate compliment for a baseball broadcaster, reaffirming to me why I got into this business in the first place. To those friends in and out of the industry who have reached out via phone and email today, I will get back to you, I promise.

I’ve had the great pleasure to work with a group of talented people in the front office, in the broadcast booth, the press box and on the field.  A special thanks to Sandy Alderson and Jeff Overton, for taking a chance on me and hiring me back in 2007.  I always appreciated the way they just allowed me to do my job, with an occasional suggestion here and there, but what a pleasure it was to work with them.  I've had the distinct pleasure of working with one of the best manager's I've ever worked with, Buddy Black.  He and his staff have been an absolute pleasure to be around over the last 7 years.  Best of luck to you guys this season.  

I’d be remiss if I left out my second family in San Diego, the University of San Diego, it’s men’s basketball team and fans.  Bill Grier has been a big part of all of my off-seasons, and is a passionate basketball coach.  I have had so much fun getting to know him and the staff over the years, I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed the relationship with the school. The pleasure I’ve gotten out of watching some young men grow up as people and players is immense.  Keep up the good work guys.  Ky Snyder thank you for bringing me on board in 2007.  USD is also the place I met Ron Fowler for the first time, and let me tell you, he is a tremendous human being.  

To my media brethren, from the group at the Mighty 1090, Darren and Marty and too many others to name; to the guys on the beat for the UT, Bill Center, Chris Jenkins and Tom Krasovic, for, my good friend Corey Brock, Bernie Wilson of the AP, Scott Miller a fellow free-agent (how stupid is CBS for getting rid of that guy?), thanks for making the press box a great place to be, and thanks for your support.  Tip of my cap to the two guys that covered the media when I got to town, Jay Posner and John Maffei, thanks for all the kind words you’ve written about me over the years.  I sincerely appreciate it.   

I’ve gotten to work with many fine broadcasters too, Matt Vasgersian, Mudcat Grant, my Chicago homie, Mark Neely, Mark Sweeney, Mike Pomeranz, Dick Enberg, Bob Scanlan and the talented TV crews I got a chance to work with.  Tony Gwynn, wow, what can I say, I really disliked you in 1984, and now in 2014 I can’t think of too many other people that treated me as well as you did.  We got our chance to work together in 2012 and what I time I had.  Tony, thanks so much for making me feel like I knew you my whole life the first time I met you.  You are a Hall of Fame human being in my book.  Lefty, Randy Jones, the first person in San Diego I heard from when I was first hired in 2007, thanks for all the laughs, and good times.  

In our radio booth, the times were extra special.  Dave Marcus, our producer/engineer, you’ve become a good friend over the years, sometimes my stubbornness got in the way, but you were a constant back there in the booth and thanks for all you did.  You all know how I felt about the Colonel, one of the most special people I’ve ever met.  From the first time I cracked the mike on a Padres broadcast he made me feel welcomed and instantly a part of things.  He didn’t have to do that, but he did.  Colonel, thank you for everything.  Ted Leitner is the man. You are a true friend and partner, through thick and thin, not sure who you’ll use for “tech support” when it comes to your iPad, iPhone, MacBook and other electronic devices!   I’ll never forget all the fun times you and I shared on the air during Padres baseball. I have been honored to share the microphone with you these many years and wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.  Our chapter is certainly not finished.  

I will be staying in San Diego to finish out the basketball season, I want to be there when the Toreros get hot and make some noise in the WCC Tournament.  From there, well, it’s anybody’s guess.   I plan to keep tweeting (probably with a new handle), and blogging, so I will still be right here at least electronically.  

Alright, that’s gonna do it.  It has been a great ride.  I feel fortunate that it lasted as long as it did, and that I got to experience life in Southern California. Thanks to all of you for listening over the years, its much appreciated.  It’s been my pleasure bringing Padres baseball to you the last 7 seasons.  You will hear from me again, I promise. 

So many faces in and out of my life,
Some will last, some will just be now and then.
Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes-
I'm afraid it's time for goodbye again.   - Billy Joel “Say Goodbye To Hollywood”

“In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.” – Albert Einstein

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Time to Celebrate the many lives of Jerry Coleman...

Colonel Coleman was buried Monday with full military honors.  It was, if a funeral can be incredible,  an incredibly dignified and moving service.  The Marines did their retired Lieutenant Colonel proud. A 21 gun salute, the playing of Taps, and an F-18 flyover, with missing man formation.  There was not a dry eye among the close to 200 gathered friends, family and loved ones.  Again, just proving what we already knew, our friend Jerry Coleman was larger than life.  Larger than he ever portrayed himself or gave himself credit for.

I want to encourage you, the fans of the San Diego Padres, to come out to Petco Park Saturday.  Show the Colonel how much he meant to you as we celebrate his life in a free public memorial.  The gates will open at 9:30am, and please use the East Village or Park Blvd gates.  There will be free parking in the lots adjacent to the ballpark.  The ceremonies will begin at 10:30am, and I imagine will last a while.  I hope that there is not an empty seat in the place.  I hope that those of you that were unable to come down the park and pay respects, will do so on Saturday.  If you can, please attend.  Many dignitaries will be there, and some surprises along the way.  Expect an emotional roller coaster.  As I mentioned before, the Colonel would be upset if he were here, the way we are memorializing him, and remembering him.  But as I asked him last spring on a car ride from Tempe, to Peoria, "Jerry do you realize, WHO YOU ARE?  Do you realize the impact you have had on so many people?  Are you aware that you're a HERO?"  He looked at me as if he wanted to punch me, but instead, in typical Jerry style, chuckled, and said, come on just keep your eyes on the road.  He then softly said, thank you, and we never broached the subject again.  Such an amazing human being.  They broke the mold when they made this man.

I would also like to add, that for those who would like to make a donation in Jerry’s memory, the Coleman family suggests the Semper Fi Fund ( 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.  

Hope to see you Saturday.  

Monday, January 6, 2014

We Miss You Already Jerry...

As I stood by the statue of Jerry Coleman tonight, I watched, as fan after fan, laid flowers at it's base, placed t-shirts, hats, pictures, and yes, even a star on a string appeared.  It hit me hard after watching a gentleman walk up to the broad bronze likeness, and shake its hand as if to say, "thank you, and it's been a pleasure knowing you".  I mentioned to someone at that moment, "this is how you know you've had an impact on people's lives".  His was the voice many San Diegans grew up listening to, he was San Diego Padres baseball to them.  He was that friendly, lovable guy on the radio.  Jerry touched people he never met, and never got close enough to him to actually shake his hand.  Its an amazing dichotomy isn't it?

But that wasn't what made Jerry Coleman go.  In fact, I know he'd be screaming (in his playful angry voice) at us, "what are you standing around here for, go out to dinner, go do something, move it move it".  I heard his voice echoing in my head as a smile came across my face.  So many great memories filled my head, and heck, I only knew the man for 7+ years.   Watching him interact with people was truly amazing.  Charging everyone that mythical nickel for his autograph, asking them if they wanted to call the game that day.  Seeing little kids, who never had seen him play, or knew anything about his war record taking pictures with him.  The kids parent's beaming with pride, because they knew about the slick fielding 2nd baseman for the Yankees, and the man who served our great country, not once but twice.  Jerry had a way about him.  Dodging every single compliment that would come from these complete strangers, choosing instead to make them feel welcome in our booth, making sure the kids studied first and played sports later, and most of all, making every single person that came into contact with him felt special, and good upon leaving the interaction.  Jerry was truly one of a kind.

I mentioned he dodged compliments.  Our first time together on the air, I got a first hand private showing of that humility.  I was the new guy, trying to fit in that March 2007 Spring day.  It was time to go on the air, and introduce the Colonel who would be taking over the play-by-play.  "And now for the play-by-play here in the fourth, please welcome in the Hall of Famer, Mister Jerry Coleman."  Jerry thanked me and went on to do the top of the inning. The final out was made, and he looked at me, and said, "thank you for that introduction, but don't do that again, please, I'm just Jerry Coleman".  I thought to myself, wow and from then on he was Jerry Coleman.  The Colonel.

I almost felt guilty every time I'd say something like, "the hero of the game today..." knowing what I did about Jerry's military record.  A highly decorated pilot who flew numerous combat missions in World War II and the Korean War.  He did make it known that he won both of those wars single handedly, but that was his way of getting you off topic, deflecting any future praise you may want to heap on him.  Jerry Coleman was an American Hero.  I looked up the definition of 'hero' and his picture should be right beside the words:


: a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities
: a person who is greatly admired
: the chief male character in a story, play, movie, etc.
Bravery, check.  Greatly admired, check.  The male protagonist, in the story, of his life, as the description is written behind his statue, the Teammate, the Marine, the Voice.  How fitting huh?  How impressive that a man could live basically 3 lifetimes in one?  A truly amazing man.   One I feel extremely fortunate and blessed to have known.

The past 3 years I worked with Jerry on the air on many occasions. We shared the microphone for most of the Sunday home games and some of the weekday home games too.  I looked so forward to those games.  I never quite knew what would happen, it was like a free form gabfest, and it was always interesting.  I learned early on from Ted Leitner that Jerry was an icon in San Diego.  While he made some mistakes during games, Ted always protected the Colonel, like a good partner.  Ted respected the heck of Jerry, thats why.  I would read email after email from listeners thanking Ted for taking care of Jerry.  Later when I began to work with him more frequently it was my turn.  I took that turn very seriously. The more I learned about the man, my respect level grew exponentially for him.   He made me laugh, sometimes unintentionally, but he did it.  Some of the things he said, just caused me to pause and think, "did he really just say that?" and all I could do was giggle, but with the utmost respect.  Jerry just loved being on the air.  He loved bringing Padres games to you at home.  Jerry loved the players, and coaches, but most of all he loved the game.  He had that old time baseball player mentality, the "if I'm not in the lineup, I can't possibly help the team" thought process.  It was admirable.

Its going to be hard for all of us when Spring Training rolls around, and Jerry isn't with us.  It's going to be difficult to start a baseball season in San Diego knowing that we will not be hearing the Colonel's voice again.  It's not going to be the same.  It's going to be strange to walk through the press box and not hear him with a friendly put down, then immediately laugh because he can't keep a straight face.  No more hot dogs being held in a napkin, no coffee cups on the brink of complete spillage, no more of those great lines I heard many times, and that deeply saddens me.   I think it saddens all of us to think about the future without Jerry.  It will be different no doubt.  But we have memories, vivid memories of a wonderful man, even without him here, he's with us, and he always will be.

On your next trip downtown whether it be for a game or just a visit to the Gaslamp, visit Jerry's statue.  Say thank you, salute, or even shake his hand.

Please keep Jerry's family in your thoughts during this difficult time.

America lost a true hero today, and San Diego lost a good friend.  It's truly a sad day.

Rest In Peace Colonel Coleman, you will never be forgotten.

Gerald Francis "Jerry" Coleman (September 14, 1924 – January 5, 2014)