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This Day in Yankees History: Jerry Coleman is honored

Former Yankees player and announcer Jerry Coleman was honored for his five decades of work announcing baseball.

Jerry Coleman Archive MLB Photos

Welcome to This Day in Yankees History. While some of the position players have been seen in camp for a few days now, their official report date was this morning, signifying that games are less than a week away! These daily posts will highlight two or three key moments in Yankees history on a given date, as well as recognize players born on the day. Hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane with us!

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This Day in Yankees History (February 22):

132 Years Ago

One of baseball’s first introductions around the globe, the Spalding Australian Baseball Tour hit Europe on its way to circling the globe. With a crowd that included Italy’s King Umberto I at Villa Borghese, the Chicago team beat the All-Americans by a score of 3-2. With the backing of former big-league pitcher Albert Spalding and his fledgling sporting good business, the tour began as a barnstorming event in the western United States.

While in progress, the opportunity to expand overseas arose and the two teams were off on a journey that would see them play games in Hawaii, Australia, Egypt, Italy, France, Monte Carlo and the United Kingdom before returning to the United States in early April.

16 Years Ago

Former Yankees player, scout and announcer Jerry Coleman received the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Ford C. Frick Award. After his playing career ended, the Yankees brought their former infielder on as a minor league scout for several years before he began working for CBS television on their Game of the Week broadcast. He was one of the voices of the Yankees on WPIX and WCBS radio from 1963 through 1969, calling former teammate Mickey Mantle’s 500th home run.

Coleman then briefly announced for the Angels before settling into a long-time role with the Padres and national weekly national games that he held until passing away in 2014. The only year in that stretch that he was not on the airways was in 1980, when he was asked to leave the booth to manage the Padres, but that lasted just one year.

Coleman played in six World Series for the Yankees between 1949-57, winning four of them (plus earning two more rings in years when he wasn’t on the roster due to his military service). After finishing third in American League Rookie of the Year voting in 1949, he was an All-Star in 1950 and named the World Series MVP. Never much of an offensive force Coleman was known for his reliable hands and defensive ability at second base.

Coleman’s time with the Yankees was interrupted, as he returned to the Marine Corps to fly combat missions in the Korean War during 1952-53. He has the distinction of being the only major league player to fly combat missions in both World War II and the Korean War. After his time in Korea, his baseball career never returned to the same trajectory it had been previously. Coleman finished his career with a modest 6.5 bWAR, but meant much more than that to generations of Padres and Yankees fans.

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Happy Birthday to current Yankees Thairo Estrada, as he turns 25 today. He was one of the Yankees’ top 10 prospects after a strong 2017 season with Double-A Trenton but has struggled to regain his form since being shot in January 2018 during a robbery attempt in his native Venezuela. Estrada will be reporting to spring training and competing for reps as a utility player who can man three infield and two of the outfield positions.

Ryne Duren was born on this date in 1929 and made the All-Star Game in three of his four years with the Yankees. He finished second in AL Rookie of the Year voting in 1958 and followed that up with his best season in 1959, recording a 1.88 ERA over 76.2 innings. The Yankees acquired him in the deal that saw Billy Martin sent out of town in June 1957. Early in 1961 as Duren was struggling for the second straight season, he was traded for Bob Cerv and Tex Clevenger, who would help the Yankees win the World Series that year. In five World Series games, Duren pitched 13.1, innings striking out 19 and giving up just three earned runs. Three of those games came in the 1958 World Series, which was won by the Yankees over the Milwaukee Braves.

Other former members of the Yankees organization celebrating birthdays today are Joe Lefebvre, Kelly Johnson, Ed Monroe, Johnny Lucadello, Steve Barber and Russ Johnson.

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We thank Baseball Reference and for providing background information for these posts.