Most San Diego fans know Jerry Coleman as the broadcaster for the Padres. But the ex—Yankees infielder is also the only big leaguer to have seen combat in two wars: He flew 120 missions in World War II and Korea. That's why the bronze statue of him that was dedicated outside Petco Park last Saturday depicts him in his Marine Corps uniform.
Coleman (above), 88, who won four world titles in New York from 1949 to '57, has spent 40 years in San Diego, and his Marine squadron was based in nearby Miramar. His bond with his adopted hometown—he was born in San Jose—wasn't always easy. He was fired from his only stint as a manager after guiding the Padres to a sixth-place finish in the NL West in '80. He also was known in the booth for hilarious verbal slips, once saying that San Diego reliever Rich Folkers was "throwing up in the bullpen."
There were no blunders in his emotional speech on Saturday, when he said, "I think the greatest thing that happened to me in my life was landing in San Diego."
ALEX GALLARDO/AP (COLEMAN)