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Broadcasting legend was Marine pilot in two wars

SAN DIEGO — Hall of Fame broadcaster Jerry Coleman, a former Yankees second baseman who interrupted his pro career to fly as a Marine Corps pilot in World War II and Korea, died Sunday after a brief illness, the Padres said. He was 89.

Mr. Coleman spent more than four decades with the Padres as a broadcaster and managed them in 1980.

Padres president Mike Dee said Mr. Coleman died at a hospital Sunday afternoon. He said the team was notified by his wife, Maggie.

"It's a sad day," Padres manager Bud Black said. "We're losing a San Diego icon. He's going to be missed."

The Padres unveiled a statue of Mr. Coleman outside Petco Park in September 2012. While recounting his military career in an interview days before the unveiling, Mr. Coleman said: "Your country is bigger than baseball."

Mr. Coleman spent more than 70 years in pro baseball, a career that included four World Series titles with the Yankees and was interrupted by the two wars. He flew 120 missions combined and was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses, 13 Air Medals and three Navy Citations.

Around Petco Park and on Padres radio broadcasts, Mr. Coleman was known as "The Colonel," having retired from the Marines with the rank of lieutenant colonel. He was the only major-leaguer to see combat in two wars.

He was known for calls of "Oh, Doctor!" and "You can hang a star on that!" after big plays. He received the Ford C. Frick Award from the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005.

Broadcasting legend was Marine pilot in two wars 01/05/14 [Last modified: Sunday, January 5, 2014 9:48pm]
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