Jerry Coleman Acceptance Speech, 2005 Ford C. Frick Award Winner
Ford C. Frick Award winner and ASA Lifetime Member Jerry Coleman receives his award from the Baseball Hall of Fame's Dale Petroskey and Jane Forbes Clark at the annual induction ceremonies in Cooperstown, NY, on July 31, 2005
JERRY COLEMAN: Good afternoon. I am delighted to be here.
There's no question about that. One of the greatest days of my
life is this day here in Cooperstown. I would like to introduce
to you my family: My wife Maggie, my daughter Chelsea, my
daughter Diane, my granddaughter Courtney and my grandson
Christopher, and a pot full of extended family all over the
place. They are over there somewhere.
I'm delighted to be here obviously. I want to thank a few
people obviously. You have no idea what I've been through the
last three or four days. We've been traveling all over the
country, to Washington and here to Cooperstown. To make that
particular trip, we needed a special plane, and the best owner
in the history of baseball came forth, Mr. John Moores and
donated his plane to get me to Washington to Albany, to Albany
and back to San Diego. John, where are you? I wish you'd stand
up. Well, he's out there somewhere and I much appreciate it.
Also, I've had a partner in broadcasting for 25 years and I
can't go by without introducing Mr. Ted Leitner, one of the best
broadcasters you've never heard. He's great.
I do have to introduce one more man. We drew up in San
Francisco, 65 years ago in the sand lots of San Francisco,
joined the Yankees together. This man was a young infielder in
1947, called on by Bucky Harris to pinch hit four times, he got
three hits and a base on balls, baseball couldn't hold him, he
had other things to do. He became a heart specialist in Texas
and the final 11 years of his working life he became the
president of the American league, Dr. Robert Brown. Where are
you? There he is over there. Certainly my longest and best
friend in baseball.
I'm delighted to be on this platform with a couple of guys
Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford, and I'm sorry that the Scooter, Phil
Rizzutto isn't here who I shared broadcast duties with and
double play duties with for 16 years in New York Yankees. In
that event, I'm so happy to be here, but I must tell you the
reason I'm here, and this is the highest honor of my life. I'm
here because my peers put me here, my fellow broadcasters
brought me in. Where ever you are, whoever you are, God bless
you and thank you so much.
When you think about this as I do, you think about in the
beginning, a rather rocky note now that I look back on it. In
the beginning, the first job I had was to do the interview on
the pre-game show on the CBS television network. There were 25
million to 30 million people watching. I didn't know where the
microphone was, anything. I was out there like a you know what,
nothing. And I had a floor manager who counted me down, five
minutes, four and a half, and on down, then finally when he
pointed to me, my knees turned to mush and I had Red
Schoendienst, he's my interview guest over here, I looked to Red
and said something very inquisitive like, "How's it going, Red?"
And he talked for five minutes and he didn't stop for five minutes, and finally the floor manager said, "Wrap it up, wrap
it up." I said, "Now back to Pee Wee Reese and Dizzy Dean."
Red, you don't know how close you came to getting kissed right
on the spot.
The next exciting moment I had in broadcasting took place
in Kansas City, a hot day like this, twice as hot, humid.
Broadcasters on television took off their jackets and in this
case their pants to stay cool. And don't laugh yet. It gets
worse. And finally I had to go from the radio booth to the
television booth, which I did, a little cat walk. I went right
across there and it was wonderful and I'm sitting down doing the
game happily and all of a sudden a hand on my shoulder. I
turned around. It was a policeman. He said, "Put on your
pants." Some woman had complained. I didn't think my legs were
that bad to be honest with you. So that was the next emotional
moment I had.
But the best one came in Cleveland, double headers Yankees,
Indians, and my job as the junior with Red Barber and Phil
Rizzutto was to go down and get the starting pitcher. I said
Birdie, he said (Sam) McDowell and (Jack) Kralick. I said
McDowell and Kralick, guys, let's go for the game. One thing
that did puzzle me at the time was Sam McDowell was a rather
erratic hitter with speed, today he was on the ball doing a
great job, and we are talking about it. Finally in the fourth
inning from New York from KPIX came this we think that's Jack
Cralig. Bob Niel was over to the left. I said Bob, who's
pitching? And I can still see the words Jack Kralick. That put
me in the Guinness book of records, most inning wrong pitcher
for Jerry Coleman. Not many can make that statement.
Also, I'd like to tell you this is a lifetime joy of mine.
I've been in baseball my entire adult life and I've loved every
minute of it, the road, the journey's incredible, I've done
clinics in Munich, Stan Musial made that one, he remembers, yes,
we were all over the place. I was in Japan broadcasting games,
I played exhibition games throughout Japan, Okinawa, in the
Philippines, on Guam, in the Hawaiian Islands, and I broadcast
games in the Hawaiian Islands. I made a trip to Vietnam for
baseball. All of this is for baseball. And I have broadcast
and been in every small village and major city in the United
States, but today, on this golden day here in Cooperstown, a
journey that started 63 years ago, I feel that finally, finally,
I've come home. Thank you.