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Looking back at What Did Jerry Coleman Do Today?

Every day seemed to be an adventure for Jerry Coleman. It was just a matter of scale.


He got up. Took his walk. It was cold. He had to wear his gloves. It's about a mile to get the paper and rather than take the car, he walked to get his exercise. He forgot what happened on the way there or on the way back, but he got there.

Of all my started and stalled projects, this was probably my favorite.

He went downstairs for the freebie breakfast, but they had cleaned it up already. He made a mental note to tell somebody to save him some food tomorrow.

For those of you who don't know, it was something of an ongoing tradition for Padres radio announcer Ted Leitner to ask his broadcast partner Jerry Coleman what he had done that day. "So Jer... Whadja do today?" The answer to this question was sometimes brief and sometimes ridiculously involved depending on what Jerry Coleman happened to do that day and the state of the game.

He took a shower and the curtain and rod fell on him.

In a close game or if suddenly faced with a scoring play that Jerry felt obliged to call, you might get a 10 second update. In a Spring Training blowouts, when asked during the 7th inning amid multiple substitutions, you'd often get to hear a lengthy meandering tale filled with former Hall of Famers, mistaken identities and liberal amounts of confusion about the modern world. One story might be about walking his dog, Gus. Another story might have him sitting down to dinner with Yankees Hall of Famers, only to be accosted by the Mayor of New York for an autograph. It was all fair game and when you've lived a life like Jerry had lived, no story seemed out of place, nor implausible.

Jerry got into an argument with a cop? Sure.

Jerry honored by the President of the United States for something heroic that you hadn't heard of before? Could totally have happened.

Jerry forgot to eat a bagel that he just now remembered he was carrying in his pocket? Because, of course.

The stories would sometimes sound even crazier if you really thought about Jerry Coleman and who he was. This was a guy that fought in two wars. This was a guy that had lived Summer of '49. This was a guy who also just did a lot of little things here and there along with everything else.

He went for a walk to the Fairmont Hotel where his senior prom was held. First he walked down Market Street and went by the Palace Hotel where he went to some dances. Then Polk Street to Market. From Market to Embarcadero. Embarcadero to Bay. Bay to Mason. Mason over the top. And up to the Fairmont. He wanted to to see the Fairmont just to "make sure it was still there". His date to the senior prom was Gert Gerdhart(?). He took Gert because all the girls he really liked had already been picked off by other guys.

Gert was his best friend.

In any case, I tried to log those questions and answers day-to-day over the course of a season or two. I didn't really get very far, but looking back at what I was able to capture, I realize that it's one of the things that I'll miss most about Jerry. I'll miss the feeling that I got when listening to one of his broadcasts that I was sitting there with him and that I might be listening to somebody talk about baseball the way I talk about baseball when I'm watching a baseball game... In the context of what I've been up to or what my friends have been up to or just because watching baseball is a great thing to do while chatting. Or vice versa.

He got up. He got dressed. He read the New York Times and the Union Tribune. He ate an apple. He got some coffee. He interviewed Bochy for his show. He had to wait an hour and a half because Bruce didn't know who would be available to play. He didn't do much.

There's a theory that there are things you don't talk about at a dinner party because, for the most part, they're boring. And it strikes me that the best stories that Jerry Coleman would tell during one of his WDJCDT soliloquies would often be in the vein of things you don't want to talk about because, told by anybody else, they'd be really boring.

That's not to say these things weren't always boring. Because sometimes, just on their own, if told by anybody else, they were, for sure, extremely boring.

He took a shower and the curtain and rod fell on him.

I went for a long time really somewhat dreading those stories because they would sometimes take the place of the action on the field. Especially when I was younger. Get on with it, I'd think. But then I grew to look forward to them. On days that I was chronicling the stories, if Ted never got around to asking Jerry, I'd find myself disappointed that I didn't get to learn about what Jerry did that day. It's like I didn't get my money's worth. I didn't get to find out what happened to Jerry. I may as well have missed the last half inning of the game or the one scoring play or highlight that everybody else was going to talk about the next day. I missed out.

He woke up at 5 o'clock. He went to Frye's, the supermarket in Arizona. He bought an apple, some yogurt, "those things for your ears" and cough drops. You can't always find Q-Tips in hotels to keep your ears clean.

He came back to the hotel and there he was. It was 6 o'clock. He decided to go to "Starplace" for coffee. The other day, he showed up too early. Starbucks opens at 6 o'clock and he showed up at ten till.

I imagine other people will probably feel the same thing, though at the same time I also imagine that lots of us probably weren't listening to the radio broadcast as much as we used to anyway. As much as I like the broadcast teams we have now, it's not going to be the same thing turning on the radio, hoping that it might be a game that Jerry might be sitting in on.

He went to Walgreens to try to buy razor blades. He was told that they kept the razors up by the counter, but the only ones available were the "use 'em and throw 'em away type". He thought about how hard it is to find simple things now.

I kick myself for not listening to the radio more while he was on, but, like lots of the really really good things in life, I guess I just didn't appreciate it for what it was while he was still around. My guess is it'll be really difficult to explain to somebody in the future what made that part of Jerry's broadcast so good, but some of that difficulty will probably be what will also make it special to those of us who were able to enjoy it when it happened. Enjoy life while it lasts, folks. Take pleasure in the little things.

Rest in peace, Jerry.