Wow, it's already January 6th. This is probably my longest stretch between posts in quite a while. We finally dragged ourselves home from San Diego late Saturday evening, exhausted from our vacation but happy to be home. I have lots of things that I want to post about (vacation recap, card shop pick ups, New Years type-stuff, etc.), but before I could get around to any of it, my twitter feed alerted me to some disappointing news:
If you've followed this blog for any length of time you'll know that Jerry Coleman is as much of an "idol" in the baseball world as there is for me. I'm not one to put athletes up on a pedestal - there are enough people who I have met in "real life" that I esteem and look up to - but Jerry Coleman is a whole different story. While there are many athletes who I enjoy watching, the Colonel was a guy that I got to know by listening. Growing up in a house without cable, there were countless nights I fell asleep listening to Jerry call the Padres game. I remember dancing around my room and celebrating a Padres win on more than one occasion. To say that he was the voice of my childhood would be an understatement. He was like family to us Padre fans.
Since I have moved far enough away from San Diego to be unable to listen to Padre games on the radio, I have been able to realize how much I took him for granted. While others may have been slightly more adept at describing the game Jerry had a way of making me feel. The only other person who had more of an impact with my love of baseball would be my dad (thanks dad!). I'm pretty sure that I would've loved baseball regardless, but I loved it more because of those two.
While it's nearly impossible to point out a singular "moment" to remember Jerry by (never having met him, but listening to hundreds of games on the radio), I'd have to point to a day in the fall of 2006. My wife and I had been married in August and we were living in a tiny studio apartment up in Idaho, where we were going to school. My wife had taken a day trip for a class… somewhere, and since I had the house to myself, I was trying to surprise her by cleaning everything; the fridge, the closet, you name it. As I was cleaning, I turned on ESPN to have some noise in the house. During the cleaning, I stopped when I heard a familiar voice.
It was Jerry Coleman, being interviewed to talk about Tony Gwynn, who was up for induction into the Hall of Fame.
Now, I had been away from the Padres for a while, as I had recently spent two years in Chicago as a missionary. While I wasn't focused on baseball during my time there, I was able to go to a few White Sox games, and within a few weeks of returning home, they won the World Series. Seeing how the Padres were still struggling making it to the postseason, I had declared myself a White Sox fan - I even remember telling my dad that if the Sox and Padres faced each other in the World Series, that I would root for the Sox.
Laying on the floor, hearing the voice of the Padres describe Mr. Padre, however, brought back a flood of feelings. I remembered how I grew to love the game of baseball and how I lived and died by the box score the following morning. I remember thinking, "How could I ever love any team more than my team?"
That's what you've given me, Jerry. A love for baseball and a love for the Padres. Regardless of the many other, much greater accomplishments that you were able to achieve in your 89 years on this earth (All Star second baseman, World Series Champion, Lieutenant Colonel in the Marines, pilot, decorated war veteran, Hall of Fame broadcaster), that is how you impacted my life.
During our vacation, I was able to take a tour of Petco Park. While it didn't quite live up to some of my expectations, it was still a great time. I'll do a post on it soon, but here are a few pictures that I took that I'll share now.
Up in one of the media-type boxes, a picture of Jerry's acceptance speech into the Hall of Fame.
At the statue near one of the main gates. I feel like this is a kind of goofy picture and not really the right "mood" for this post, but seeing the statue, I just felt like a kid seeing his grandpa and wanted to jump right up with him. Not to be a downer, but this statue needs to be twice as big.
The world lost a great man and the Padres lost a piece of their history. God bless Jerry Coleman. Thanks for making me always feel like a kid.