Jan 5 (The Sports Xchange) - Jerry Coleman, an All-Star New York Yankees infielder who became a decorated veteran and a Hall of Fame baseball broadcaster, died Sunday in San Diego. He was 89.
According to the UT San Diego newspaper, Coleman's death was related to head injuries he sustained in a December fall, in addition to pneumonia.
"Jerry Coleman was a hero and a role model to myself and countless others in the game of baseball," Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "He had a memorable, multifaceted career in the national pastime - as an All-Star during the great Yankees' dynasty from 1949-1953, a manager and, for more than a half-century, a beloved broadcaster, including as an exemplary ambassador for the San Diego Padres.
"But above all, Jerry's decorated service to our country in both World War II and Korea made him an integral part of the Greatest Generation."
Coleman signed with the Yankees in 1942, then spent three years as a Marine Corps aviator, flying 57 combat missions over the Solomon Islands.
He returned home and finished third in American League Rookie of the Year voting in 1949 and helped the Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series.
He helped the Yankees win two more World Series in 1950 and 1951, then missed most of the next two seasons when returned to military service for the Korean War. Coleman flew 120 missions and was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses among numerous other military honors.
Coleman played with the Yankees through 1957, finishing with a .263 batting average. He won a fourth World Series ring in 1956.
"He was an American hero whose service to this country is his lasting legacy," said Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner in a statement.
"He was also a great Yankee, a true ambassador for baseball, and someone whose imprint on our game will be felt for generations."
Coleman transitioned into a broadcasting career that including a stint calling Yankees games and California Angels games. He spent 33 years as the voice of the San Diego Padres, and he received the Ford C. Frick Award, the broadcasting equivalent of induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame, in 2005.
He also managed the Padres in 1980, leading the team to a 79-83 record. (Editing by Gene Cherry)