Remembering Jerry Coleman on Memorial Day weekend
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Remembering Jerry Coleman on Memorial Day weekend

AFAN: Coleman is in the broadcaster's wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame

Photo: Jerry Coleman in the Korean War

Memorial Day is a time to honor those that died serving their country, but the weekend also is a good time to remember Marine Corps pilot Jerry Coleman, the only Major League Baseball veteran to fly combat missions in World War II and Korea.

If you're thinking I'm overlooking Ted Williams, well, he served in World War II and Korea, but he was stateside in World War II.

The link above is my story following Coleman's death in 2014 at age 89. Note the quote from Ted Williams on Coleman as a pilot. Coleman also tells a funny story about Mickey Mantle, his teammate on World Series championship teams with the New York Yankees. I recently reminded current Padres broadcaster Bob Scanlan of the Mantle story in a twitter posting.

Coleman always downplayed his war days and baseball accomplishments on the air as a Padres broadcaster, which was part of what made him such a delightful person to know. But if you knew his real story, he was an inspiration.

This is another story I wrote about him in 2008 after his book was published.


Tom Shanahan

Tom Shanahan

Tom Shanahan is an award-winning sportswriter and the author of "Raye of Light". Tom spent the bulk of his career in San DIego writing for the San Diego Union-Tribune. He has covered NCAA Tournaments, Super Bowls, Rose Bowls, the NBA Finals and the World Series in a career that included writing for Voice of San Diego, the San Diego Hall of Champions and Chargers.com. He contributes to the Detroit Free Press, Raleigh News & Observer, MLB.com, Rivals.com and the National Football Foundation's Football Matters. He won multiple first-place awards from the San Diego Press Club and first place from the Copley News Service Ring of Truth Awards. The National Football Foundation/San Diego Chapter presented him its Distinguished American Award in 2003. USA Track and Field’s San Diego Chapter presented its President’s Award in 2000.

Raye of Light: Jimmy Raye, Duffy Daugherty, the integration of college football and the 1965-66 Michigan State Spartans. It explains Duffy Daugherty's pioneering role and debunks myths that steered recognition away from him to Bear Bryant.

By Tom Shanahan; Foreword by Tony Dungy; August Publications


David Maraniss, Pulitzer Prize winner and biographer: "History writes people out of the story. It's our job to write them back in."