Two years ago today, San Diego and the baseball community as a whole were hit with the devastating news of the death of Jerry Coleman. The 89-year old was a hero in so many ways, and as Friar Faithful it was especially hard to come to terms with the Voice of the Padres being gone.
I remember quite vividly hearing the news. I was on a high from the Chargers' win over the Bengals and an Aztecs win over the Jayhawks. Then I saw the tweet from the Padres announcing the Colonel had passed away. It always feels kind of weird when someone you don't know personally dies, but the loss hits you so deeply it's like it was a loved one. Padres fans had the unfortunate luck of experiencing two such losses in that same year. But what I remember even more than the sadness was the comfort that came from the entire community coming together. Having so many people share their memories, especially here at Gaslamp Ball, made it a lot easier to get through it. It was especially cathartic for someone like me. I'm the only really big sports fan in my family, so no one else in my house really understood the impact of such a loss. But I had Gaslamp Ball, and that was incredibly comforting.
In the two years since his passing, it's been wonderful to hear Jerry's longtime broadcasting partner, Ted Leitner, continue to keep his memory alive and well in the radio booth, signing off every single broadcast with a tribute to the Colonel. The Padres have also continued the tradition of "hanging a star" for particularly spectacular plays made by Padres at Petco Park, and I've always enjoyed seeing Bob Scanlan take over those duties these past couple of seasons (I suppose that torch will be passed to Jesse Agler in the coming year). And Jerry will always be a part of Petco Park, quite literally, with his statue greeting arriving guests and the broadcast booth named after him, housing so many people who looked up to him and learned from him over the years.
I still miss hearing Jerry's voice on the radio broadcasts. I'll always remember his speech on the day the Padres revealed his statue at Petco Park, when he talked about how highly he thought of San Diego and of Padres fans. I'll continue to try to live up to his view of us as always faithful and unwavering to the last out. And when the Padres eventually win their first World Series I'll picture him and Tony Gwynn cheering them on right along with us, as they should be.