Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Colonel

Show of hands by everyone whose ass is dragging from the back of the proverbial gypsy wagon today.  Do not be too hard on yourself.  Today is the first non-bifurcated work week since the week of December 16-December 20 for a lot of us, including Yours truly.  Our reward each of the past two weeks for making it through Tuesday had been having Wednesday as a buffer between two mini-weeks.  Those days are long past now.  Today is the fourth straight day of this work week and if it feels as if it is the 400th, hang in there.  Once you make it through today, you have Friday to endure before you get one day or perhaps two days off and then, Voila!, you are back at Monday.  If we keep up with such metronomic precision we just might make it out of January alive. 

With all the noise generated by and attention devoted to the NFL playoffs this past weekend, you might have missed the item on the news, both sports and adult, regarding the death of Jerry Coleman at age eighty-nine.  Jerry Coleman played second base for the New York Yankees between 1949 and 1957.  He was the American League Rookie of the Year in '49, made the All-Star Team in 1950 and for good measure won the 1950 World Series MVP when the Yankees defeated the Phillies.  As a member of the Yankees he played in six World Series.  The Yankees won four of them.  In 2005, he received the Ford C. Frick Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame, arguably the high water mark in a broadcasting career that spanned five decades - first for the Yankees and later (and most notably) for the San Diego Padres.

Jerry Coleman was far more than an award-winning professional baseball player or a Hall of Fame broadcaster.  He was an American hero.  As a pilot in the United States Marine Corps, Jerry Coleman flew one hundred (120) combat missions - first in World War II and thereafter in the Korean War.  He missed portions of two seasons to serve his country the second time in the Korean War.  As a flyer, Jerry Coleman earned two Distinguished Flying Crosses, thirteen Air Medals and three Navy Citations.  In recognition of what he did in the "real world", he was widely referred to as "the Colonel".  He held the rank of Lieutenant Colonel when he retired from the United States Marine Corps.

In 2012, the Padres unveiled a status of Jerry Coleman at Petco Park and appropriately his likeness was wearing a flight suit.  Interviewed shortly before the statue was unveiled and speaking of his military service and why he had served irrespective of its effect on his career as a professional baseball player, he said simply, "Your country is bigger than baseball."  

Well said Colonel.  Well said indeed....

Jerry Coleman statue - Petco Park
San Diego, California



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