The 2005 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award was Jerry Coleman. For more than four decades, Coleman was the voice of the San Diego Padres.
A former major league all-star infielder in nine seasons with the New York Yankees (1949-1957), Coleman successfully transitioned from the field to the broadcast booth in 1960. He was a fan-favorite on the radio airwaves 51 years, including 42 seasons, the last 33 consecutive, as voice of the San Diego Padres.
The 1950 all-star appeared in six World Series in nine seasons, compiling a .263 batting average in 723 career games, earning Rookie of the Year honors from the Associated Press in 1949 and World Series’ Most Valuable Player honors in 1950. Twice during his tenure as a player, Coleman’s career was interrupted because of military service as a Marine pilot, during World War II and Korea, when he flew 120 missions, received two distinguished flying crosses, 13 Air Medals and three Navy citations, while earning the title of lieutenant colonel.
Three years after his last major league game, Coleman made his broadcast debut in 1960, handling pre-game interviews for Dizzy Dean and Pee Wee Reese on CBS television Game of the Week. Beginning in 1963, Coleman joined a Yankees radio team featuring Mel Allen, Red Barber, Joe Garagiola and Phil Rizzuto, and was an active member of the broadcast team annually through 1969. In 1970, Coleman moved to southern California to host the Angels’ pre-game show, while anchoring the evening sportscasts of KTLA-TV.
In 1972, Coleman became the voice of the Padres in the club’s fourth season. In 1980, Coleman left the broadcast booth to become field manager for the Padres, a stint that lasted just one year after Coleman guided the club to a sixth-place finish. He returned as voice of the Padres in 1981. Coleman’s work with CBS Radio Game of the Week continued through 1997, with additional assignments for The Baseball Network (1994-1995). He broadcast two World Series and 18 League Championship Series.
2005 Ford C. Frick Award Winner Jerry Coleman (National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)