Look Up In The Sky! A Bird? No, It’s Jerry Coleman!

Defense earned Yankee second baseman Jerry Coleman awards on the field, and offense won him awards off it. He was the 1949 Associated Press Rookie of the Year after helping the Yankees win the first of five consecutive championships. This honor is not the same ROY award voted on by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, but he did finish third in that tally. He earned four World Series rings and would have had more had he not returned to military service during the Korean War.

A longtime San Diego Padres broadcaster after his playing career ended, Coleman has a statue honoring him at Petco Park. He isn’t depicted in Yankee pinstripes or any baseball uniform at all. Instead, he is wearing his Marine Corps aviator jacket. Coleman flew more than 100 combat missions, splitting air time almost evenly between WW2 and Korea. He earned two Distinguished Flying Crosses while piloting a Douglas Dauntless dive bomber and an AU-1 Corsair ground attack fighter.

Note that Coleman’s 1952 Topps card mentions that he is once again flying for the Marines.