Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Who Says You Can't Go Home Again?


I so appreciate everyone who has been asking about my future plans in broadcasting.  It warms my heart to know that so many of you, in my adopted hometown of San Diego, those in my actual hometown of Chicago and those of you from other parts of the world, have been so supportive during this time of my life.  It means so much.  I hope you know that.

Having said that, I'm ready to announce that I have accepted a part time position with WGN Radio in Chicago.  I have already relocated and am ready to get to work.  I worked at WGN from 1999-2007 and am thrilled to be able to go back and work with the amazingly talented people there. 

My role, for now, will include filling in on both, Chicago Blackhawks and Chicago Cubs pre and post game coverage.  As many of you know, I'm a huge hockey fan, and have admired it from afar for a long time.  I'm excited to be able to lend a hand and to be a part of these broadcasts.  My first game is Thursday April 3 and the show is streamed live on www.wgnradio.com so check it out.  As far as the Cubs, it will be a return to my roots, having served as pre/post host with the team for nearly 9 years before coming to San Diego.   I will also be hosting a 30 minute show called "Cubs Weekly" before either Saturday or Sunday pre-game broadcasts.  I'm really excited about that.  For a Chicago kid, this could not have worked out any better for me.  I'm truly grateful for the opportunity to return to the Midwest to reunite with family and friends I haven't seen in a long time. 

In addition to the work in Chicago, I will be doing college baseball games for the West Coast Conference on TheW.TV, the web based network of the conference.  I'll actually be in San Diego for the Friday April 4, USD v. Gonzaga game at Fowler Park.  First pitch is 6pm PT. 

To all my San Diego friends, I will certainly miss you.  All of you have become a very important part of my life and are very special people.  You guys are the reason that this is a bittersweet situation for me.  If you ever get tired of 70 degrees and sunny everyday, come see me in Chicago where it may be in the mid 30's for Friday's opener at Wrigley Field!

I have truly enjoyed my experience in San Diego and would never rule out a return if circumstances permit.  I am also not ruling out a return to USD Basketball next season, it has been a wonderful experience and next year looks to be an exciting one! 

As I mentioned in a previous blog entry, you Padres fans will always hold a special place in my heart and I'll always consider myself lucky for having been a part of things with the team. Your kindness towards me will never be forgotten, trust me on that. To the many Cubs and Blackhawks fans I know, get ready, I'm here, and looking forward to adding to the already spectacular coverage of these two storied franchises.  

Well that's it for now, everyone please keep in touch, via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, blog and my website.  I'll continue to encompass the entire social media realm as I always have!  

So long (it's never goodbye in my mind, or line of work) San Diego, it's been great!  Hello Chicago, I'm back home!

Andy

Saturday, March 15, 2014

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year...

"March Madness", "On The Bubble", "Going Dancing", "A Tradition Unlike Any Other", "Hope Springs Eternal", "Everybody's in 1st Place".  

Yes, just a few of the terms that get thrown around at this, the most wonderful time of the year to be a sports fan.  You could argue against me here, but I don't think you'd be successful.  Let me lay it out for you.   College Basketball's largest stage, the conference tournaments and of course the NCAA Tournament.  The start of the MLB season, where every team's fan base has reason to believe that their's will win the division and play for the championship.  Last but not least, the most important and storied (at least in the US) golf tournament of them all, the Masters will be getting underway in Augusta.   Pretty formidable trio wouldn't you say?

THE ROAD TO THE FINAL FOUR

Even if you're not a hard core college basketball fan, the hype leading up to the "Big Dance" is palpable. I have found myself watching conference championships on TV, of conferences I didn't know existed (ok, writer's embellishment).  Seeing how important it is for these lesser known schools to get on the road to the final four makes for great basketball.  Even in the more well known conferences, schools are battling for seeding in the NCAA tourney, and some great moments are sure to follow.   Now listen I know that the college game is not perfect, and there are still lingering discussions about paying players and the one and done rule and other things, but for 3 weeks, in mid-March, it's just awesome to watch.  I can remember when I lived in the Midwest, going to a bar at 11am, to watch the 12pm central time tips on the first Thursday of the tournament.  We'd stay through the "late games" the 9:30pm tip times and just have a blast.  Running up a significant bar tab, only made winning your "bracket challenge" more important as each upset unfolded before our eyes.  Among my favorite upsets of all time:

Valparaiso defeats Ole Miss in the 1st round in 1998, 70-69 on the "Bryce Drew Shot"

Villanova upsets Georgetown in the 1985 NCAA Title game 66-64
Cleveland State upends 3rd seeded Indiana 83-79 in 1986.  Anytime Bob Knight is upset, I'm not.
Texas Western (Now UTEP) over Kentucky, 1966 Title Game, featured in the movie "Glory Road".
NC State beats Houston 54-52 in Albuquerque in 1983 making Jim Valvano a household name.


And of course there was one that I took part in, back in 2008, in Tampa, where #13 seed USD, upended #4 UConn 70-69 in OT.
3-21-08 USD Defeats UConn Final Call
That was certainly a "Shining Moment" in my play-by-play career.

PITCHERS AND CATCHERS REPORT...

There are 162 games in a MLB season, and when it begins it seems as though every fan base truly believes it's team is destined for the World Series Title.  Every team is undefeated (ok so they haven't won a game either but I'm trying to make a point here), and in first place and the hype leading up to opening day is one that you can feel.

While Spring Training may not mean much more than the boys of summer returning to the diamond to those of us in good weather cities, it's a sure sign of Spring in other parts of the country.  I remember those long winters in the Midwest, looking for any sign of warm weather, a hint of spring, and yes, when pitchers and catchers started to report, I wanted to go outside and play catch with my brother.  When my mom reminded us that it was still only 25 degrees outside, we got upset and wanted to go anyway, but were forced to stay inside by the powers that be!

This is the time of year that baseball fans put away cynicism (for a moment at least) because they are so pumped to know that the season is right around the corner.  You'll hear things from players, managers and front office types like, "This is our year", "I'd put our team up against any in the league", "If we stay healthy, the sky's the limit".  I love this time of year.

THE GREEN JACKET

The Masters, as the tag line states, "A Tradition Unlike Any Other", gets underway April 10, and it to me is the best of the majors.  We have been introduced to young golfers, like Tiger Woods who ran away with the 1997 title, shooting 18 under par.  A guy named Arnold Palmer (yes that guy with the lemonade and iced tea combination) won his first one in 1958. Jack Nicklaus burst on the scene winning his first Masters in 1963 and stole our hearts with his final Masters win in 1986.  Larry Mize won it in 1987 in an amazing playoff.   Since, we've watched as San Diegan, Phil Mickelson won the first of his three titles in 2004.

Then there's the famous green jacket, given to the winners of the tournament.  Doing a little research, I've discovered that the tradition of the green jacket dates back to 1937, when the members of the Augusta National course began wearing the jackets to stand out in the crowd, so that patrons that had questions could ask a member in a green jacket (from Masters.com).  The first green jacket given to a winner took place in 1949 when Sam Snead won the tournament.  The tradition has taken place ever since.  It's also customary now, for the previous champion of the Masters to award the jacket to the current champion.

The other unique thing I really like about the Masters, is the naming of the holes.  Starting off on the "Tea Olive" the Par 4, 445 yard hole number 1.   Then there's the famous stretch on the back nine known as "Amen Corner", and for those wondering about how and why it's called that, here's this from Augusta.com:
The year 1958 was eventful at the Masters Tournament.
Two bridges across Rae's Creek were dedicated in honor of Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson. A young pro named Arnold Palmer won the tournament for the first time.
And Amen Corner was born.
Actually, the famous stretch of holes -- Nos. 11, 12 and 13 -- had been in existence for 25 years, but a catchy nickname didn't exist until Sports Illustrated golf writer Herbert Warren Wind came up with the term in 1958.
The three holes where Rae's Creek meets the National played a vital role in the early years of the Masters.
The Nelson Bridge commemorates Nelson's charge of a birdie at No. 12 and an eagle at No. 13 to win in 1937. The Hogan Bridge honors Hogan's score of 274 in 1953, then the lowest 72-hole score in Masters history.
It's always incredible to watch the way golfers attack this famed course, and always provides some drama.  Can't wait for it to start.

So hunker down sports fans, make sure the cable/satellite bill is paid, find that comfortable spot on the couch and get ready.   It's time to get on the Road to the Final Four, that takes us to our favorite baseball stadium, and winds up at one of the most storied golf courses in history.   So put on Cinderella's glass slipper, hope it goes well with your baseball cap and green jacket!!!

Enjoy sports fans, I know I will!


Monday, February 17, 2014

My Life With 2 Icons...

Lucky, lucky me.  Yeah that's right, lucky me.  In my 15 years of calling MLB games on the radio, I have had the distinct pleasure of working with two amazing, iconic, and wonderful people.

Both are in the Hall of Fame, one as a broadcaster, and one as a player.  Each meant so much to their team's fan base that when they passed away, two big cities, stopped to mourn the loss.  In each city, these two men became the only voices, several generations of fans knew.  Both were philanthropic, both were humble when they had reasons to not be, and both treated fans with respect and love.  To me, both these men, were among the best people I have ever been around, and may ever be around again.

By now, I think you've figured out that I'm talking about the late Ron Santo, and the late Lt. Col.  Jerry Coleman.  The former meant everything to Cubs fans, and the latter, the same to Padres fans.

Ron Santo was an all-star, a gold-glove winner, and a home run hitter for the Chicago Cubs in the early 60s until the mid 70's.  342 career home runs, all as a type-1 diabetic.   This secret he kept, would have kept some away from playing the game, but not Ronnie.  He didn't want his teammates to look at him differently, so he'd sneak a shot of insulin, or a candy bar, and a coke, when his blood sugar was low.  He told me a story, that I looked up just to verify, of a game that was coming down to the bottom of the 9th inning, against the Montreal Expos at Wrigley Field.  Billy Williams represented the tying run at home plate, with 2 on and 2 out.  Santo was in the on deck circle, and all of the sudden, he saw three scoreboards, three pitchers and three of Billy at the plate.  He was having a diabetic episode. I remember him telling me, "it was the first time I ever rooted for Billy to strike out and for a game to be over".  Williams would walk to load the bases for Santo.  He staggered to the plate, and decided to swing at the first pitch he "saw" and told me he was going to "hit the ball in the middle" since he was still seeing 3.  Sure enough, he swung, and launched a grand slam into the seats, and won the ballgame for the Cubs.  It wasn't long after that he came clean about his "secret", and let it be known that he was diabetic.   Ron didn't do it out of fear, or out of some need for pity, no he did it because he knew he was not the only one facing this horrible disease.  Ron Santo became the face of this disease.  He inspired people to live a normal life.  He raised countless tens of millions of dollars for JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) with golf outings, sponsorships, and his Ron Santo Walk for the Cure, which has grown exponentially even after his passing.   The story of Ron was told beautifully by his son Jeff Santo, in a film called "This Old Cub", which has been updated to include Ron's posthumous election to the HOF.   If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it, and not just because I have a cameo or two in it.

Jerry Coleman was a World Series Champion second baseman for the New York Yankees.  The man was a tremendous baseball player, despite what he would tell you on the radio.  He was a World Series MVP, a rookie of the year and a teammate of Yankee greats, like Yogi Berra, Joe Dimaggio, and Mickey Mantle to name just a few.   But Jerry never thought twice (ironically he served twice) about leaving the great game, to defend his country.  He did it twice.  The Marine pilot, served in over 120 combat missions, in both World War II and the Korean War.  Won countless medals, and probably saved countless lives with his bravery.    To Jerry, it was just what somebody does when called upon.  He never wanted the credit, even though he'd tell me a hundred times, "You know I won both of those wars single handedly", it was just his way to deflect any attention given to him.   That was the Colonel.   It seemed natural for Coleman to land in San Diego, this very proud military town. For many he became the face of the military, and especially the Marine Corp.  Jerry had so much respect for all the branches of service, and in kind they respected the heck out of this man.  He was asked to appear at many military functions,  making speeches, and taking part in ceremonies and parades.  He hated the attention, he really did.  But the soldiers loved meeting him, and the Colonel always had a kind word and an encouraging word for them, while wishing them well, should they see combat.  I remember each time we'd stand up in the middle of the fourth inning on a Sunday at Petco to honor the Marine recruits, looking over at him, as he seemed genuinely concerned about all of their safety.  This was real, no act, this was the genuine article.

These two gentlemen are probably better known by today's generations from their work in the broadcast booth.  Their engaging smiles, and energetic personalities, made them so easily identifiable and loved by the listeners.

I really feel like I've learned a lot from each of them, things that I can take forward with me in my broadcasting career.

For example, Ron Santo's love for Cubs fans was as evident as their love for him.  One day when I was working for WGN and doing the pre/post game with Ron, we arrived on the team bus in St. Louis.  The Cubs/Cardinals rivalry is fierce and many Cubs fans would make the short journey to see the games.  We were running late and there were hundreds of fans lined up by the gate we needed to go in, to get up to press level.  Ron handed me his cane, he had to use it to get around since diabetes claimed both his legs below the knee, and he had two prosthetic limbs making it difficult but not impossible for him to get around.   It seemed like he was signing autographs for hours.  Finally he wrapped up the impromptu session and was ready to get moving.  Ron apologized for taking so long, but said, "those people out there," referring to the Cubs fans, "kept me alive and kept me going when I had my surgeries, it was their outpouring of love, with cards and letters that kept me fighting."  I thought, wow, this guy that could have easily asked "why me?" at any time, but never did, really showed me something.  He had made a deep connection with the fans.  They cared about him, and his caring for them was not superficial.  It was genuinely appreciated.  I never forgot that.  He knew, and I know, that a broadcaster, or a player, are nothing without fan support.   What a lesson to learn, and one I have taken to heart.

The lesson was furthered as I watched Colonel Coleman interact with the fans.  Always charging that mythical 'nickel' for the autograph, but never taking any money.  The thing that rang true with me, was the fact that after he finished signing the autograph, he always thanked the fan for asking for it. He was amazed at how many of the "younger" generation would want his script, on a hat or glove, but no matter what the age, he would always say thanks.   Most fans would walk away stunned that he would thank them, when so many players nowadays treat the autograph line like an assembly line, very robotic.  Not Jerry.  In his own way, he was teaching me again, that just because someone desires your autograph, doesn't make you any better in any way than that person.  It's polite to say thank you and to keep proper perspective on things.  Message received Colonel.  Thank you.

How lucky am I?  I got to work with both of these fine, proud and terrific gentlemen.  They were quite similar.  Each had a bit of difficulty with names at times, neither took themselves too seriously and could poke fun at their own mistakes.  Both of these guys made it very interesting for the play-by-play man, in as, sometimes we never knew what they might say.    They each had an amazing laugh, a sound that was music to my ears, because my goal was to make them laugh at least once or twice a broadcast.  Both had an immense respect for the game of baseball, and wouldn't hesitate to let you know if someone wasn't playing the game correctly.  Ron couldn't stand it when a hitter would swing at a 'pitcher's pitch' early in a count with men on base.  Jerry hated the one hand catch and the positioning of some infielders.  Each earned the right to be critical, but it never crossed the line or became personal.  They admired what the players could do, too much to make it an aggressive attack.

Both Ron and Jerry knew each other, as players and broadcasters.  In Jerry's case, he saw Ron at a tryout camp in his hometown of Seattle, while a player personnel director for the Yankees.  The Colonel told me that Santo, who was a catcher back then, was one of the best power hitters he'd laid eyes on.  He said the Yankees actually offered Ronnie more money, but Santo was a big fan of Ernie Banks, and Wrigley Field and the rest, as they say is history.   Watching them interact in the press box  was an awesome sight.   Ron wanted to make sure Jerry was taking good care of me, and Jerry would joke, "you want him back?", and they'd both have a laugh at my expense.

I'm sure you're probably wondering why I chose now to write this blog, about these two special men. I looked at my calendar and realized that next Tuesday, February 25, is Ron's birthday, if he were still with us, he would have been 74 years old.  It just started me thinking about him, and then I thought about Jerry and my relationship with both.

Two special men, both gone way too soon.  Each will always hold a special spot in my heart, forever. It was such a pleasure to work with them, to know them, to call them both dear friends, and now I miss them both dearly.  Not a day goes by that something triggers a memory of either Ron, or Jerry, my two heavenly hall of famers.

Rest in peace my friends.
Ron Santo and me in Seattle 2002

Jerry in the booth at Petco

Ron Santo's statue at Wrigley Field, August 2011

The Scoreboard version of Jerry's Memorial patch 

Jerry's Statue after his death in January 2014

The patch the Cubs wore during the 2011 season


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

10 Things I've Learned Living In San Diego....

Ok, so this Midwestern kid comes to San Diego, knowing nothing about So. Cal living, terms, events, scenery and libations.  Since I'm likely to be heading out of town at some point in the near future, I'll be blogging about some memories and making some lists!   So with apologies to David Letterman, here's today's Top 10 list...

Top 10 Things I've learned while in San Diego....


# 10.  Santa Anas the Marine Layer and the Coastal Eddy
Two weather phenomena's that I just used to call, fog, and dry winds.  We got a lot of fog in Chicago, just see the 1988 Fog Bowl between the Bears and the Eagles.  But living on the coast I came to know our good friend Coastal Eddy, where it can be socked in by the bay, and brightly sunny in Mission Valley.  Crazy.  I'm pretty sure the Marine Layer if not the same thing is a relative of ole' Coastal Eddy.   The Santa Ana's, or dry winds, were also a part of my new vocabulary living here. 

# 9. Red Flag warning
Well, the Santa Ana's directly lead to this other term I've gotten to know that I'd never heard of before coming here.  Red Flag Warning or conditions are conducive for fires.  We had fire drills in school, but it's a much more serious thing here.  Of course my first off-season in San Diego was 2007, when the entire county seemed like it was up in flames.  Definitely a scary situation. 

# 8. Earthquakes scare me
The first little earthquake I felt, was also in 2007, I had no idea what the hell was going on.  I was told to get into a door frame.  I was like, huh?  I remember being on a road trip with the Toreros, in the San Jose area, and feeling our hotel shake for what felt like a month.  I went to my iPad app, and saw it was a 3.8 located about 20 miles away.  Everyone made fun of me for even feeling one that small.  Ok.  Turn to 2010, when I felt not one, but two fairly large ones.  Getting ready to leave for the season opener in Arizona, we were at Petco Park and that's when the Easter Quake registered either a 6.9, or 7.2 in Mexicali.  I was with Warren Miller up in his office and we looked at each other (as two midwesterners) and wondered what to do.  Then later in 2010, during our broadcast of a June game against the Blue Jays, I felt the booth shake and said to Ted Leitner, "um, that's not me shaking this table Ted".  Yikes! 

# 7. It's A Freeway
Driving here became confusing to me, since I was used to driving on an "expressway" or a "highway", here they are FREEWAYS.  Oh and where I came from the roads had numbers, but also names, so to drive into Downtown Chicago from the burbs was a ride on the Edens, to the Kennedy to downtown.  Here you just simply put a "THE" in front of the number.  So it's THE 5, THE 805, THE 163, THE 52, THE 15 and so on.  I'm now ruined for any other city!
Where's the THE?

# 6. The trolley is useless
Who designed this thing?  A mass transit system that doesn't go to the airport?  Really?  Oh but I can go shopping down by the border, or go to Old Town? Come on San Diego you're better than that. 

# 5. Photos look really good here
I've really enjoyed taking pictures in San Diego. Favorite spots:  Cabrillo National Monument, Balboa Park, LaJolla Shores, Downtown, Coronado and Harbor Island.  I've taken some pretty cool pictures while living here, and it's been so much fun to explore new areas and snap some photos.   Recently I took my camera to Sunset Cliffs, and to the beaches of Del Mar. 

# 4. Beer is good food 
I attended a few of the San Diego Beer Weeks! 
I liked beer before I got to San Diego, but it seems that since I've been here for a little while now, I actually LOVE beer.  I do have to thank my buddy, Corey Brock (the resident Beer snob) and the guys at Padres and Pints, oh yeah you know who you are, for helping me appreciate the finer beers and the local brews.  I love supporting local breweries and will likely visit a few more before I relocate!

# 3. Petco is a great ballpark
My travels have taken me to many ballparks throughout my career, and Petco Park is in my top 5 for sure.  The only thing I'd change about the park, is to have one level that goes completely around Petco.  I remember when I'd have to use a series of ramps and elevators to get from the PressBox to the Fox Sports set out at the Park at the Park.  It took some maneuvering but I would eventually get there.   The Park at the Park is such a great feature, when my young nieces came for a visit, all they wanted to do was roll down the hill and get dipin' dots which could both be accomplished out there.  Great idea.

# 2. Respect for the military, appreciation
Thought about putting this number one, and perhaps it should be a 1, 1a situation.  Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, we had a naval air base nearby, but I never really encountered any military personnel in my everyday life.  That changed here in San Diego, and changed to the extreme when I met Colonel Coleman.  Early in my life I never would have dreamed of thanking a solider, airman or officer for their service to our country.  Now it seems strange to allow any military person to pass me without acknowledging them and thanking them for what they do. Sunday's at Petco Park are something that I will truly miss, seeing the Marine Recruits in their uniforms, being saluted by the crowd always sent goosebumps up my spine.  To know that for that instant, between the top and bottom of the 4th inning, that everybody in the park is rooting for the same team is awe inspiring.  So again from the bottom of my heart to any who have or are serving this great country of ours, THANK YOU for protecting our liberties and for doing what you do.
Always gave me goosebumps




# 1.  Met some really great people
I know I mentioned many of you in my good bye blog, and I don't want to get into names again here, since I'll probably forget someone and feel badly about it.  I just wanted you to know again how much all of you mean to me.  Life gets difficult at times, and when it does it's great to have a tremendous support system, and thankfully I've had that here.  I hope I've been there for you as well, because friendship certainly is a 2-way street.

That's it for now, keep watching this space for updates on me, I'll let you know when I do, where I'm headed next. In the meantime, in regards to #5, enjoy some of my favorite pictures from San Diego over the years.  Oh and one other thing, if you're following me on Twitter, my handle has changed to@Andy_Masur1

Foggy Night Downtown
Southwest Non-stop to the Moon?
#CloudsAreCool

Del Mar Beach
From the Cabrillo National Monument 
Friday Night Fireworks at Petco Park  
Blue Moon 
Sunset over San Diego Bay 
Fly Like a Seagull to the Sea...

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

You Stay Classy San Diego, and I'm glad I stopped by....

I'm sure you’ve heard by now either via social media or somewhere else, that I am no longer with the San Diego Padres organization.  I was not offered a new contract after mine expired at the end of the 2013 season.  I was notified a couple of weeks ago, that there had been a "restructuring" of the broadcasting department and that I would not be a part of things moving forward.  It was very disappointing to hear this news, as I did not want to leave the Padres organization.  Today, I'm thinking back to all the good memories from my time with the team, to dwell on the "other" seems counterproductive. 

It's been an emotional time for me, what with the passing of dear friend Jerry Coleman and now with the thought of saying so long to so many great people, it's been rough.  I welcome a challenge, it's something I've always done, something my parents taught me.  I will be fine. Trust me. 

All of my focus now is on the next chapter of my career and life.  It's never easy to embark on the unknown.  I had the same uneasiness 7 years ago, as I left the safety and comfort of my hometown to head to San Diego.  My trepidations turned out to be a waste of time.  I landed in a great spot.  Americas Finest City.  I quickly realized what a great town it was.  I've been lucky to call it home for the past number of years.  San Diego will always hold a soft spot in my heart.  But unfortunately it is time to move on.  

I will certainly miss you, the fans.  I have gotten to know many of you.  Your outpouring of love and support today on Facebook and Twitter, have this broadcaster at a complete loss for words. That's not an easy accomplishment.  I've interacted with many of you over the years on social media, but today, please forgive me, but it would be impossible to respond to all of you, and I won't be able to do it. I hope you understand.  I know that a broadcaster, especially a baseball play-by-play man, is charged with making a connection to the fans.  I've taken this responsibility very seriously, and you never know how you're doing at that job, until unfortunately a day like today.  Your comments have touched me, and I'm truly grateful.  I thank you all for making this guy from the Midwest feel so welcomed in your town and with your team, I can't tell you how much your support has meant to me.  You have given me the ultimate compliment for a baseball broadcaster, reaffirming to me why I got into this business in the first place. To those friends in and out of the industry who have reached out via phone and email today, I will get back to you, I promise.

I’ve had the great pleasure to work with a group of talented people in the front office, in the broadcast booth, the press box and on the field.  A special thanks to Sandy Alderson and Jeff Overton, for taking a chance on me and hiring me back in 2007.  I always appreciated the way they just allowed me to do my job, with an occasional suggestion here and there, but what a pleasure it was to work with them.  I've had the distinct pleasure of working with one of the best manager's I've ever worked with, Buddy Black.  He and his staff have been an absolute pleasure to be around over the last 7 years.  Best of luck to you guys this season.  

I’d be remiss if I left out my second family in San Diego, the University of San Diego, it’s men’s basketball team and fans.  Bill Grier has been a big part of all of my off-seasons, and is a passionate basketball coach.  I have had so much fun getting to know him and the staff over the years, I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed the relationship with the school. The pleasure I’ve gotten out of watching some young men grow up as people and players is immense.  Keep up the good work guys.  Ky Snyder thank you for bringing me on board in 2007.  USD is also the place I met Ron Fowler for the first time, and let me tell you, he is a tremendous human being.  

To my media brethren, from the group at the Mighty 1090, Darren and Marty, Coach Kentera and too many others to name; to the guys on the beat for the UT, Bill Center, Chris Jenkins and Tom Krasovic, for MLB.com, my good friend Corey Brock, Bernie Wilson of the AP, Scott Miller a fellow free-agent (how stupid is CBS for getting rid of that guy?), thanks for making the press box a great place to be, and thanks for your support.  Tip of my cap to the two guys that covered the media when I got to town, Jay Posner and John Maffei, thanks for all the kind words you’ve written about me over the years.  I sincerely appreciate it.   

I’ve gotten to work with many fine broadcasters too, Matt Vasgersian, Mudcat Grant, my Chicago homie, Mark Neely, Mark Sweeney, Mike Pomeranz, Dick Enberg, Bob Scanlan and the talented TV crews I got a chance to work with.  Tony Gwynn, wow, what can I say, I really disliked you in 1984, and now in 2014 I can’t think of too many other people that treated me as well as you did.  We got our chance to work together in 2012 and what I time I had.  Tony, thanks so much for making me feel like I knew you my whole life the first time I met you.  You are a Hall of Fame human being in my book.  Lefty, Randy Jones, the first person in San Diego I heard from when I was first hired in 2007, thanks for all the laughs, and good times.  

In our radio booth, the times were extra special.  Dave Marcus, our producer/engineer, you’ve become a good friend over the years, sometimes my stubbornness got in the way, but you were a constant back there in the booth and thanks for all you did.  You all know how I felt about the Colonel, one of the most special people I’ve ever met.  From the first time I cracked the mike on a Padres broadcast he made me feel welcomed and instantly a part of things.  He didn’t have to do that, but he did.  Colonel, thank you for everything.  Ted Leitner is the man. You are a true friend and partner, through thick and thin, not sure who you’ll use for “tech support” when it comes to your iPad, iPhone, MacBook and other electronic devices!   I’ll never forget all the fun times you and I shared on the air during Padres baseball. I have been honored to share the microphone with you these many years and wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.  Our chapter is certainly not finished.  

I will be staying in San Diego to finish out the basketball season, I want to be there when the Toreros get hot and make some noise in the WCC Tournament.  From there, well, it’s anybody’s guess.   I plan to keep tweeting (probably with a new handle), and blogging, so I will still be right here at least electronically.  

Alright, that’s gonna do it.  It has been a great ride.  I feel fortunate that it lasted as long as it did, and that I got to experience life in Southern California. Thanks to all of you for listening over the years, its much appreciated.  It’s been my pleasure bringing Padres baseball to you the last 7 seasons.  You will hear from me again, I promise. 

So many faces in and out of my life,
Some will last, some will just be now and then.
Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes-
I'm afraid it's time for goodbye again.   - Billy Joel “Say Goodbye To Hollywood”


“In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.” – Albert Einstein

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Time to Celebrate the many lives of Jerry Coleman...

Colonel Coleman was buried Monday with full military honors.  It was, if a funeral can be incredible,  an incredibly dignified and moving service.  The Marines did their retired Lieutenant Colonel proud. A 21 gun salute, the playing of Taps, and an F-18 flyover, with missing man formation.  There was not a dry eye among the close to 200 gathered friends, family and loved ones.  Again, just proving what we already knew, our friend Jerry Coleman was larger than life.  Larger than he ever portrayed himself or gave himself credit for.

I want to encourage you, the fans of the San Diego Padres, to come out to Petco Park Saturday.  Show the Colonel how much he meant to you as we celebrate his life in a free public memorial.  The gates will open at 9:30am, and please use the East Village or Park Blvd gates.  There will be free parking in the lots adjacent to the ballpark.  The ceremonies will begin at 10:30am, and I imagine will last a while.  I hope that there is not an empty seat in the place.  I hope that those of you that were unable to come down the park and pay respects, will do so on Saturday.  If you can, please attend.  Many dignitaries will be there, and some surprises along the way.  Expect an emotional roller coaster.  As I mentioned before, the Colonel would be upset if he were here, the way we are memorializing him, and remembering him.  But as I asked him last spring on a car ride from Tempe, to Peoria, "Jerry do you realize, WHO YOU ARE?  Do you realize the impact you have had on so many people?  Are you aware that you're a HERO?"  He looked at me as if he wanted to punch me, but instead, in typical Jerry style, chuckled, and said, come on just keep your eyes on the road.  He then softly said, thank you, and we never broached the subject again.  Such an amazing human being.  They broke the mold when they made this man.

I would also like to add, that for those who would like to make a donation in Jerry’s memory, the Coleman family suggests the Semper Fi Fund (www.semperfifund.org). The Semper Fi Fund, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, was created by a group of Marine Corps spouses nine years ago to provide immediate financial assistance and lifetime support for injured and critically ill members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families.  

Hope to see you Saturday.  




Monday, January 6, 2014

We Miss You Already Jerry...


As I stood by the statue of Jerry Coleman tonight, I watched, as fan after fan, laid flowers at it's base, placed t-shirts, hats, pictures, and yes, even a star on a string appeared.  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".  His was the voice many San Diegans grew up listening to, he was San Diego Padres baseball to them.  He was that friendly, lovable guy on the radio.  Jerry touched people he never met, and never got close enough to him to actually shake his hand.  Its an amazing dichotomy isn't it?

But that wasn't what made Jerry Coleman go.  In fact, I know he'd be screaming (in his playful angry voice) at us, "what are you standing around here for, go out to dinner, go do something, move it move it".  I heard his voice echoing in my head as a smile came across my face.  So many great memories filled my head, and heck, I only knew the man for 7+ years.   Watching him interact with people was truly amazing.  Charging everyone that mythical nickel for his autograph, asking them if they wanted to call the game that day.  Seeing little kids, who never had seen him play, or knew anything about his war record taking pictures with him.  The kids parent's beaming with pride, because they knew about the slick fielding 2nd baseman for the Yankees, and the man who served our great country, not once but twice.  Jerry had a way about him.  Dodging every single compliment that would come from these complete strangers, choosing instead to make them feel welcome in our booth, making sure the kids studied first and played sports later, and most of all, making every single person that came into contact with him felt special, and good upon leaving the interaction.  Jerry was truly one of a kind.

I mentioned he dodged compliments.  Our first time together on the air, I got a first hand private showing of that humility.  I was the new guy, trying to fit in that March 2007 Spring day.  It was time to go on the air, and introduce the Colonel who would be taking over the play-by-play.  "And now for the play-by-play here in the fourth, please welcome in the Hall of Famer, Mister Jerry Coleman."  Jerry thanked me and went on to do the top of the inning. The final out was made, and he looked at me, and said, "thank you for that introduction, but don't do that again, please, I'm just Jerry Coleman".  I thought to myself, wow and from then on he was Jerry Coleman.  The Colonel.

I almost felt guilty every time I'd say something like, "the hero of the game today..." knowing what I did about Jerry's military record.  A highly decorated pilot who flew numerous combat missions in World War II and the Korean War.  He did make it known that he won both of those wars single handedly, but that was his way of getting you off topic, deflecting any future praise you may want to heap on him.  Jerry Coleman was an American Hero.  I looked up the definition of 'hero' and his picture should be right beside the words:

he·ro

\ˈhir-(ˌ)ō\
: a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities
: a person who is greatly admired
: the chief male character in a story, play, movie, etc.
Bravery, check.  Greatly admired, check.  The male protagonist, in the story, of his life, as the description is written behind his statue, the Teammate, the Marine, the Voice.  How fitting huh?  How impressive that a man could live basically 3 lifetimes in one?  A truly amazing man.   One I feel extremely fortunate and blessed to have known.

The past 3 years I worked with Jerry on the air on many occasions. We shared the microphone for most of the Sunday home games and some of the weekday home games too.  I looked so forward to those games.  I never quite knew what would happen, it was like a free form gabfest, and it was always interesting.  I learned early on from Ted Leitner that Jerry was an icon in San Diego.  While he made some mistakes during games, Ted always protected the Colonel, like a good partner.  Ted respected the heck of Jerry, thats why.  I would read email after email from listeners thanking Ted for taking care of Jerry.  Later when I began to work with him more frequently it was my turn.  I took that turn very seriously. The more I learned about the man, my respect level grew exponentially for him.   He made me laugh, sometimes unintentionally, but he did it.  Some of the things he said, just caused me to pause and think, "did he really just say that?" and all I could do was giggle, but with the utmost respect.  Jerry just loved being on the air.  He loved bringing Padres games to you at home.  Jerry loved the players, and coaches, but most of all he loved the game.  He had that old time baseball player mentality, the "if I'm not in the lineup, I can't possibly help the team" thought process.  It was admirable.

Its going to be hard for all of us when Spring Training rolls around, and Jerry isn't with us.  It's going to be difficult to start a baseball season in San Diego knowing that we will not be hearing the Colonel's voice again.  It's not going to be the same.  It's going to be strange to walk through the press box and not hear him with a friendly put down, then immediately laugh because he can't keep a straight face.  No more hot dogs being held in a napkin, no coffee cups on the brink of complete spillage, no more of those great lines I heard many times, and that deeply saddens me.   I think it saddens all of us to think about the future without Jerry.  It will be different no doubt.  But we have memories, vivid memories of a wonderful man, even without him here, he's with us, and he always will be.

On your next trip downtown whether it be for a game or just a visit to the Gaslamp, visit Jerry's statue.  Say thank you, salute, or even shake his hand.

Please keep Jerry's family in your thoughts during this difficult time.

America lost a true hero today, and San Diego lost a good friend.  It's truly a sad day.

Rest In Peace Colonel Coleman, you will never be forgotten.







Gerald Francis "Jerry" Coleman (September 14, 1924 – January 5, 2014)