Coleman honored with Frick Award
Voice of the Padres recognized for 41 years in booth
The Colonel is going to the Hall.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum announced Tuesday that Jerry Coleman, long-time voice of the San Diego Padres, was named the 2005 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award, presented annually for major contributions to baseball broadcasting.
Coleman outpolled nine other finalists for the honor. Current broadcasters Ron Santo (Cubs), Tom Cheek (Blue Jays) and Dave Niehaus (Mariners) were on the ballot, as well as retired voices Ken Coleman (Red Sox), Gene Elston (Astros), Tony Kubek (Blue Jays), France Laux and Dizzy Dean (Cardinals) and Graham McNamee, who broadcast 12 World Series, beginning in 1923.
"I was ecstatic," Coleman said about hearing the announcement. "I didn't expect it."
The Frick Award is named in memory of the one-time commissioner of Major League Baseball, who was also a sportswriter, radio broadcaster and National League president. A minimum of 10 years of continuous major league service with a club, network, or combination thereof was required, and broadcasters could be active or retired.
"I couldn't be happier and prouder of Jerry," Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. "He truly is a remarkable man with all he's accomplished."
Coleman joins such industry heavyweights as Red Barber and Mel Allen, who won the award in its inaugural year of 1978. Past recipients also include Ernie Harwell, Jack Brickhouse, Vin Scully, Harry Caray, Curt Gowdy and Jack Buck.
"I broke in with them and worked with them," Coleman said of Barber and Allen. "To be mentioned with them is an honor."
Coleman has enjoyed a 41-year broadcasting career. Most of that time has been spent with the Padres, but he also worked as a broadcaster for the Yankees (1963-69) and Angels (1970-71) and broadcast the Game of the Week, League Championships and World Series for CBS Radio for 22 years.
His signature calls of "Oh, doctor" and "You can hang a star on that one" are legendary among Padres fans.
"We weren't very good, so I had to come up with something exciting," Coleman recalled of calling the action for the Padres in the early days. "I remember when I was a kid, we'd have spelling tests on Friday and you'd get a gold star. So that was it."
Coleman made his broadcast debut in 1960, handling pre-game interviews for Dizzy Dean and Pee Wee Reese on CBS television's Game of the Week. Beginning in 1963, Coleman joined a Yankees radio team featuring Allen, Barber, Joe Garagiola and Phil Rizzuto.
In 1972, Coleman moved on to the Padres, but remained on the national scene as a part of the CBS Radio Game of the Week broadcast team through 1997.
Coleman was accomplished, though, well before he went into the booth.
As an infielder for the Yankees, Coleman appeared in six World Series from 1949-57. He was named the American League Rookie of the Year in 1949 and the World Series MVP in 1950.
But the 80-year-old Coleman may have distinguished himself most as a Marine pilot in both World War II and in the Korean War. He earned two Distinguished Flying Crosses, 13 Air Medals and three Navy Citations while flying 120 missions and rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel.
There is a 20-member electorate, which is comprised of the 14 living Frick Award recipients and six broadcast historians-columnists. The past honorees are Marty Brennaman, Herb Carneal, Joe Garagiola, Curt Gowdy, Ernie Harwell, Jaime Jarrin, Milo Hamilton, Harry Kalas, Felo Ramirez, Vin Scully, Lon Simmons, Chuck Thompson, Bob Uecker and Bob Wolff; the historian-columnist panel is comprised of Bob Costas (NBC), Barry Horn (Dallas Morning News), Stan Isaacs (formerly of New York Newsday), Ted Patterson (historian), Curt Smith (historian) and Larry Stewart (Los Angeles Times).
"I was voted in by my peers and that means a lot," Coleman said.
Fans were also given the opportunity for the second consecutive year to vote online by selecting up to three candidates. The remaining seven finalists were named by a research committee at the Baseball Hall of Fame.
"The most important thing is to have fans in your corner," Coleman said of his long and successful career. "You have to have the fans accept you."
Coleman will be honored during Hall of Fame Weekend 2005, July 29-August 1 in Cooperstown, New York, along with 2004 J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner Peter Gammons. BBWAA Hall of Fame electees Wade Boggs and Ryne Sandberg will be inducted during the ceremonies, along with any electees to emerge from the 2005 Veterans Committee election, to be announced March 2.
Mike Scarr is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.