SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Longtime San Diego Padres baseball announcer Jerry Coleman, who as a player won four World Series rings with the New York Yankees, died Sunday at age 89, Padre officials announced.
"The San Diego Padres are deeply saddened by the news today of the passing of Jerry Coleman. We send our heartfelt sympathy to the entire Coleman family, including his wife Maggie, his children and grandchildren," a team statement said. "On behalf of Padres' fans everywhere, we mourn the loss of a Marine who was truly an American hero as well as a great man, a great friend and a great Padre."
Longtime Dodger announcer Vin Scully said he admired Coleman as a man and as a broadcaster.
"We were much richer for having known him," Scully said. "He had a wonderful and full life as a major league player, a war hero and a Hall of Fame broadcaster. Our sympathies are extended to his family and all the many wonderful friends that he had. We will miss him dearly."
Coleman began his professional baseball career in 1942 as a New York Yankees minor leaguer and made his big league debut in 1949.
Coleman played nine seasons as a second baseman and was a member of six World Series teams.
In 1950, Coleman was selected the World Series' Most Valuable Player after the Yankees swept the Philadelphia Phillies. Coleman also was an American League All-Star that year.
The La Jolla resident retired from professional baseball after the 1957 season with a lifetime .263 average, 16 home runs and 217 runs batted in during 723 games.
Like many players of his era, Coleman interrupted his professional baseball career twice to serve as a Marine pilot -- once in World War II and again in the Korean Conflict.
Coleman earned two Distinguished Flying Crosses, 13 Air Medals and three Navy citations before retiring as a lieutenant colonel. He was the only major league player to see active combat in two wars, according to the Padres.
Coleman made a transition to the broadcast booth in 1960, and in 1972, he became lead radio play-by-play announcer for the Padres, a role he held every year except 1980, which he spent as the team's manager.
He also called national regular season games for CBS Radio until the 1990s.
In 2005, Coleman received the National Baseball Hall of Fame's prestigious Ford C. Frick Award, given to a broadcaster who has made "major contributions to baseball."
Team officials said that this past season was Coleman's 40th, and he still stirred fans with his patented "Oh Doctor!" and "Hang a Star!" calls, which became signatures of Padre baseball.
He was inducted into the Padres Hall of Fame in 2001, the U.S. Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame in 2005 and both the National Radio Hall of Fame in Chicago and the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.
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