San Diego,CA- It’s only been five days into the new year, and yet today will not only be a day we remember at the end of the year…..but a day that will always be remembered in San Diego Sports history.
Today as San Diego Sports fans we witnessed a Chargers playoff victory, one of the biggest wins in San Diego States history and the loss of the legend Jerry Coleman.
We witnessed this morning the Chargers dominate the 2nd half for a 27-10 victory over the Bengals. As the Chargers down 10-7 at the half, came back to shutout the Bengals in the second half for the victory. For the Chargers it was their first playoff win since 2008, their first road playoff win since 2007 and their first win against Cincinnati in the playoffs since the 1981 “Frozen Bowl”.
The Chargers now head to Denver to take on Peyton Manning and their Rival Broncos in the AFC Divisional round and a chance to advance to the AFC Championship.
Later in the day we witnessed the No. 21 ranked San Diego State Aztecs upset No. 16 ranked Kansas 61-57 at Allen Field House today for one of their biggest wins in program history.
The Aztecs started the game leading 8-4 and the Aztecs matched every Kansas run on their way to a 29-23 lead at the half. It was the first time Kansas had trailed at home at the half this season.
The Aztecs continued to hold Kansas in check in the second half, withstanding ever one of Kansas runs….even in the game’s final seconds as the Aztecs never trailed in the second half on their way to a 61-57 upset win at Allen Field House.
On defense the the Aztecs stifled the dynamic Jayhawks offense, as they held them to only 29% from the field and the presumed number one overall draft pick in next years NBA draft to only 14 points.
With the win the Aztecs became only the 9th team to defeat Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse under Bill Self and only the third since 2007. The Aztecs also snapped Kansas’s 68 straight non-conference at home game winning streak.
Alas non of these great wins by the San Diego State Aztecs and Chargers will be the most remembered event of the day…..as late this afternoon the Padres announced that Jerry Coleman had passed away at the age of 89.
Coleman died at Scripps Hospital from complications of head injuries he’d suffered in a fall last month. Coleman had been in and out of the hospital since the early-December fall, according to several of his close friends. As reported by The San Diego Union Tribunes Chris Jenkins.
Coleman will be remembered as a war hero, his great playing career with the New York Yankees and his 42 years as a Padres broadcaster.
Coleman began his career in baseball in 1949, playing second base for the New York Yankees. Coleman appeared in the World Series six times in his career, winning four of them with the New York Yankees. He was voted Rookie of the Year by the Associated Press in 1949, made the All-Star team in 1950 and went on to win the Babe Ruth Award for the most valuable player in the World Series as well.
Coleman was also a Marine aviator and left the Yankees to serve in the Korean War, in World War II. While a Marine Corps aviator he flew 120 combat missions. He is the only Major League Baseball player to have seen combat in two wars. Coleman was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross twice and he left the military with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
Coleman retired from baseball in 1957. Coleman began his broadcasting career three years later in 1960, as a broadcaster for the New York Yankees. Coleman was a broadcaster for seven seasons for the New York Yankees. His most memorable moment was calling Mickey Mantle’s 500th home run in 1967.
Coleman started announcing Padres games in 1972. He took one year off in his entire broadcasting career with the Padres in 1980 as the Padres hired him to manage the team. He returned to the broadcast booth the following season. Coleman was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as a broadcaster in 2005. In 2007 Coleman was inducted to the National Radio Hall of Fame as a Sports Broadcaster for his years as the play by play voice of the Padres.
On September 15, 2012, the San Diego Padres unveiled a Jerry Coleman statue at Petco Park. Coleman’s statue is only the second statue at Petco Park, the other belonging to the greatest Padre of all time Tony Gwynn.
Over his years with the San Diego Padres, Coleman has been the voice of so many memorable moments in the team’s history.
Jerry Coleman called many of the greatest moments in Padres history. From Steve Garvey’s walk off home-run to beat the Cubs, the Padres first National League Pennant, the Padres second National League Pennant, Tony Gwynn’s 3,000 hit and Trevor Hoffman’s 400th save.
Jerry Coleman is the epitome of Padres baseball. The sounds of “OH DOCTOR” after every home run or “YOU CAN HANG A STAR ON THAT BABY” after every great defensive play coming through the radio is a sound Padres fans for years came to know and love…..and now will hear no more.
Jerry Coleman’s voice will forever be engraved in our memory’s, but it was Jerry the person that will be missed the most. As Annie Heilbrunn beautifully put it….
Jerry Coleman had a way of making every person he met feel like he/she was the single most special person in world. A rare quality.
He will forever be remembered as one of the most important figures in not only Padres history…but San Diego sports history as well and that is something you hang a star on.