Long before his voice would become the soundtrack of baseball in San Diego, Jerry Coleman traveled a winding road in and out of the game. But it was in the sunny Southern California corner of the country that he found his niche, becoming the distinctive voice of the Padres for decades. The role earned him a permanent place among the best broadcasters in the game's history at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., where this weekend baseball will come together to honor its newest inductees, Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza.
In recent years, the Padres have been fortunate to welcome another noteworthy voice into the booth. Longtime San Diego-area resident Dick Enberg, a veteran national sports broadcaster, took over as the voice of the Padres in 2010. He followed Coleman as a winner of the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting excellence in 2015, and, with their tenures combined, the Padres have had a Hall-of-Fame broadcaster in the booth for 44 of their 48 seasons. Which, of course, leaves baseball fans in San Diego with a thing or two to say: "Oh, Doctor!" and "Oh, my!"
Coleman's signature call, often accompanied by, "You can hang a star on that baby," as a star prop dangled out of the broadcast booth, has resonated through many big moments in Padres history. Enberg's "Oh, my!" has transcended baseball into football, tennis, the Olympics and more.
Coleman's relationship with Padres fans is perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime bond. The confluence of his baseball knowledge and distinguished service as a Marine pilot in World War II and Korea have made The Colonel a well-respected member of the military town.
"The people have just been so wonderful to me ever since I arrived," he said in 2005, the year he entered Cooperstown. "If the people don't like you, you're not going to make it. It's the people who make you, and the people of San Diego have made me what I am today. I've always felt at home with them."
Coleman arrived in San Diego in 1972, three years after the Padres were born and a decade-and-a-half after he retired from his nine-year playing career with the Yankees. Broadcasting gigs in New York and L.A. followed before San Diegans came to know his voice.
The Padres have had other beloved voices over the years, though, including Ted Leitner, now in his 37th season behind the mic, and his "My Padres" wit. The affable Bob Chandler, insightful Dave Campbell and excitable Mark Grant have also filled San Diego's airwaves.
But Coleman remains the forever voice of the Padres, not just for his abilities, but for his status within the fabric of a community.
"With Jerry, there was never any pretense," Leitner, his broadcast partner for some 33 years, said upon Coleman's passing in January 2014. "He was just an old friend for everyone."
This article appeared in the MLB Official All-Star Game Program. Click here to purchase a copy.
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.