Thank You, Jerry Coleman

Beyond being a day off of work, Memorial Day honors the men and women who died in battle to preserve the freedom of the United States.

One man who escaped death despite fighting for our country in both World War II and the Korean War was former Yankee infielder and current San Diego Padres broadcaster Jerry Coleman.

Coleman achieved the rank of LieutenantCohlonel in the United States Marine Corps, and earned numerous honors and medals, including two Distinguished Flying Crosses.

Around this time every year, Coleman appears on various radio and TV shows, and as a result I think the importance of what he did for our country may be slightly diluted. You know, when you hear/see the same person every year at the same time, the effect can be a loss of luster.

To combat (pardon the pun) that possibility, I’m taking the time now to honor him — and all of the men and women who put their life on the line for our freedom. In case you weren’t aware, Jerry Coleman flew 120 combat missions as a USMC aviator. Wow. 120 times, he went into the air with every reason to believe he would not land alive. Think about that for a moment. Can you imagine doing that yourself, even once? I can’t. Can you imagine one of today’s MLBers putting his baseball career aside, and hurtling himself into the air to fight for our country?

Mind you, I’m not a fan of war, and not suggesting that every war our country has fought has made sense. Today, I would like to put the politics aside and simply honor those Americans who served — and died — in battle.

Thank you for going to war, so I didn’t have to.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. norme May 28, 2012 at 11:17 pm
    Great thought and one of your best pieces of writing.

    As a kid growing up at the time Jerry Coleman played for the Yankees I remember him as a graceful fielder who could turn the doubleplay with the best of them. The Daily News often featured a picture of him leaping high in the air as he completed the relay to first base.
    He was the other #42 in NYC.
    Coleman choked up on the bat as far up as any hitter I ever saw—not much for power, but that was not his role.

    Thanks for bringing back the memories of a ballplayer and
    military hero.

    • Joe Janish May 29, 2012 at 12:51 am
      Thanks Norme! Glad to take you back to fond memories!
  2. DaveSchneck May 28, 2012 at 11:45 pm
    Well written piece. We should never be too busy to remember and be thankful for the selflessness of Jerry C. and the countless others who did not make it back.
    • Joe Janish May 29, 2012 at 12:57 am
      Thanks Dave. It always upsets me when people poke fun at Jerry Coleman’s malaprops in the broadcast booth; though, that trend seems to have died down over the years. He’s said some funny things over the years (i.e., “Rich Folkers is throwing up in the bullpen” or “he slides into second with a standup double”), and I hope that most people point them out as a way to remember him fondly rather than negatively.