Today is Jerry Coleman's birthday. There have been a handful of guys in baseball that I'd say that I look up to (well, especially now that I'm not nine years old), and I'd have to say that Jerry is at the top of that list. As far as "heroes" go, he's the only ballplayer that I'd put into that category.
This is probably because it has little to do with his athletic ability and more to do with the type of person that he is. A military veteran (WWII, Korea), I knew him better as the voice of the Padres, listening to the radio as I fell asleep as a kid.
Today's the Colonel's 89th birthday. I actually had no idea until I checked twitter and found that a bunch of people were well wishing him (pretty much every person I follow on twitter is a fan of the Padres, with a few exceptions). Serendipitously, this card arrived in the mail off eBay a few days earlier. Less than three bucks shipped.
This is from the '56 Topps set. Jerry's last year in the bigs (as a player) would be the following year. Digging the cartoon on the back, which references his military service and his World Series performance.
When I was in college, I was cleaning our apartment and I had ESPN on in the background. Wasn't paying much attention to it, but all of a sudden, I heard a familiar voice. I stopped what I was doing and saw that it was Coleman. They were interviewing him about Tony Gwynn being elected to the Hall of Fame, and listening to his voice and hearing him talk about Mr. Padre brought back a flood of memories. That's when I realized how lucky I was to be a Padre fan and be able to listen to him all the time when I was a kid.
Thanks for being awesome, Mr. Coleman. Happy birthday!