You may remember back in 2011, Dex and I thought we'd come up with a series of new traditions for Padres fans. After some inspiration from my recent road trip to Chicago and subsequent stop at Lincoln's tomb, we decided the first new tradition would be to rub Tony Gwynn's statue's knee at every game. The idea was met with great enthusiasm but the actual task of reaching Gwynn's knee proved to be quite difficult for vertically challenged fans. I tried it at a game soon after the blog was posted and found that while I could touch his knee, the degree of difficulty would insure that the tradition would never catch on.
That brings us to September 2012. Unfortunately I was out of town on Jerry Coleman Day when the Padres officially unveiled and dedicated Coleman's new statue. My first opportunity to see it in person was at a weeknight game with Jon. At the time SB Nation wanted bloggers to shoot more video and so I brought my camera along and with nothing to film, I thought we'd recycle our earlier statue idea and have Jon shake Jerry's hand while I narrated. After all, it is always lucky to touch a hero statue, maybe it'd bring the Padres a win. Unfortunately my narration was embarrassingly awkward and we shelved the idea.
Here's an animated gif made from the 2012 video of Jon showing how a fan might choose to shake Jerry's hand at each game.
Earlier this month, when fans learned that Jerry Coleman passed away, I went to the ballpark with others to mourn. Fans left flowers at Coleman's feet, wept resting their head upon his chest, hugged his likeness and even shook his hand. It was all very touching. It didn't go unnoticed by fellow Padres broadcaster Andy Masur.
It hit me hard after watching a gentleman walk up to the broad bronze likeness, and shake its hand as if to say, "thank you, and it's been a pleasure knowing you". I mentioned to someone at that moment, "this is how you know you've had an impact on people's lives".
With that said, how great would it be if shaking Jerry Coleman's statue's hand became a new tradition at Petco Park? Somewhere down the line an out-of-town guest or new fan might look upon the statue and ask a seasoned Padres fan why this bronze statue's hand has been burnished and appears to shine like gold. They'd learn that Jerry Coleman was so beloved by fans that they regularly shake his hand to pay their respects for his service to our country, our city and our team.