Jerry Coleman was in the broadcast booth for 51 years, calling 42 MLB seasons – 33 of them in a row for the San Diego Padres. But every once in a while, he needed to remind himself of a lesson he learned during his playing days.
“When I was a player, we had an infield coach named Frank Crosetti, one of the great men of all times, he would say “bear down, bear down,” Coleman explained during a press conference. “In my score book, if you look, it says bear down because if you get complacent, [the fans] know it. They say: ‘He’s getting bored, not doing his work.’ If that happens they’ll throw you out, so you must constantly stay alert at what’s going on, understand the game.”
What Crosetti taught Coleman was forever embedded in his fiber when he joined the Marines. The only major league player to see combat in both World War II and the Korean War, the future broadcaster flew 120 missions. He received two distinguished flying crosses, 13 air medals, three Navy citations and retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
So it was only fitting that the same weekend Coleman would be honored as the 2005 Ford C. Frick Award Recipient for “major contributions to baseball,” he was also inducted into the Marine Corps Hall of Fame in Quantico, Va.
“You can’t compare the two, they are different animals, one’s for country, the other’s for baseball,” Coleman said of the two honors. “And if you’ve ever been a Marine, you understand the honor there. I was thrilled to death, I’m thrilled with what’s happening (with both inductions). Even Steven I call it.”
On Feb. 22, 2005, Jerry Coleman officially received the news that he would be headed to Cooperstown to receive the Frick Award. The former All-Star infielder played for the Yankees from 1949-1957, making six World Series appearances in his nine seasons on the field. He began his broadcasting career in 1960, and would call games for the Yankees, California Angels and Padres as well as for CBS Radio.