All-Star Game Weekend 2016.

Back in July of last year, my brother and I made the trek to attend the All-Star Game festivities in San Diego. I filled my trip by attending MLB Fanfest (twice), visiting the chaos that was the All-Star Game Street Fair, and going to both the Futures Game and Home Run Derby. In addition to this, I attended the grand opening of the AleSmith Tony Gwynn Museum, which was pretty amazing and possibly my favorite part of the weekend. Needless to say, I was a bit burnt out by the time Tuesday rolled around and I decided to watch the All-Star Game on television.

Since then, I’ve toyed with the idea of writing a post about the trip and including some photos, but it just never materialized as it seemed a bit unnecessary. Well, I recently figured out how to create a slideshow and this sparked my interest in sharing my photos from the weekend. These photos are nothing special and were all taken on my iPhone, but still, I figure that some of you will appreciate them – regardless if it’s half a year late. With that said, enjoy the photos and the celebration that was San Diego baseball!

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Goodbye, Jerry Coleman.

Following Jerry Coleman’s death back in January of 2014, I posted this on 90 Feet of Perfection. Today marks 3 years since The Colonel passed away, so I’ve decided to share it again here on The 5.5 Hole, as it seems relevant to the blog and is a fitting memorial. I think I speak for everyone reading this when I say that I still miss Jerry in the booth. Padres games haven’t been the same since he left.

Jerry Coleman Tribute Image

Last Sunday afternoon, I received a text message from a friend in San Diego that simply said, “The Colonel died.” Nothing more, nothing less. Immediately, I had to google it to see if this was indeed true and when I saw the reports slowly start to pour in, my heart sank. Someone I’ve admired, looked up to, and who has captured my imagination on many levels for the majority of my life had passed away. It may seem silly saying this, but in a way, it felt like I’d lost a family member. This feeling of loss has only grown since I’ve had time to reflect on my memories of Jerry Coleman.

I often take issue with the word “hero” but I look at Jerry Coleman and that’s the only word I can use to describe him. Looking at just his life in Baseball, which lasted over 70 years, I think it’s safe to say that he had one of the most impressive resumes imaginable. I certainly don’t want this post to be a stat and accomplishment driven tribute, but these are the facts and they paint a picture of how relevant Jerry Coleman was to the world of Baseball. If you were to add his military accomplishments, which lead to him being the only Major League player to see combat in 2 wars and resulted in his playing career getting put on hold both times, this list would be much longer:

-In 1939, he was a bat-boy for the San Francisco Seals of the old Pacific Coast League.
-From 1942 to 1957, he spent his entire playing career in the Yankees organization, where he played on 6 World Series teams.
-Placed 3rd in the 1949 Rookie of the Year voting.
-In 1950, he was voted to the All-Star Game and won the World Series MVP award.
-From 1958 to 1960, he worked in the Yankees front office.
-In 1960, he began his broadcasting career, where he did the CBS MLB game of the week.
-In 1963, he began his 7 year tenure as part of the Yankees broadcast team.
-In 1970, became part of the California Angels broadcast team.
-In 1972, became the voice of the San Diego Padres, which lasted over 40 years.
-In 1980, left the broadcast booth to manage the Padres for 1 season.
-In 2005, was honored with the Ford C. Frick Award inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
-In 2007, was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.
-In 2007, was inducted into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame.
-In 2012, in honor of “Jerry Coleman Day” in San Diego, a statue was built and unveiled in his honor at Petco Park.

Jerry Coleman passed away at the age of 89, yet as anyone familiar with the Colonel knew, he had to be the youngest 89-year-old around as he was still quite active in both the booth and Padres organization. He had the youthful exuberance of a man much younger than him. He was still physically able, sharp, funny, and it was apparent to anyone who listened that he was still very much in love with the game of Baseball. An irrational side of myself honestly thought that Jerry would be around forever due to these reasons. He did not seem like a man approaching 90 years old and that’s a hard pill to swallow due to the fact that Jerry Coleman’s death was a result of a fall he had in December. Not due to age, disease, or whatever mother nature has in store for most people in their golden years. Due to this, I’ll always wonder how long we could have had Jerry Coleman? I’m convinced that some great years were stolen from us.

I associate Jerry Coleman with my love of the game. I’ve watched and listened to Padres games since I was a kid and Jerry Coleman has always been the one constant in that organization through my entire life. Along with Tony Gwynn, there’s not a person involved in the game of Baseball that’s meant as much to my family and myself and that’s the honest truth. I’ll always associate family with Jerry Coleman and to this day, my dad still quotes Jerry’s trademark “Oh Doctor, You can hang a star on that baby!” If I ever have children, I know that I’ll continue this tradition and while telling them of great (and not so great) Padres of the past, much like my parents and Grandmother did with me. Rest assured, Jerry Coleman will be at the top of that list.

To some, Baseball may be just another corporate sport filled with millionaire athletes; and this may be true on a level. However, there’s more to Baseball below this surface and that’s why the game is special. Jerry represented this as he reminded me of the raw and genuine love of the game that many of us discover as children. He played in the Golden Age of Baseball and was one of the last remaining people left from that era who was still involved and relevant. I don’t like to generalize and disregard other generations, but the players from the Golden Age brought something to the table not found in generations since.

While watching and reading tributes to Jerry this last week, I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t shed a tear. When spring training games start up again late next month, I won’t be surprised if this happens again. Baseball lost someone very special last Sunday and I feel as if I lost someone special as well. Jerry Coleman, you were a good one and will be missed by many.

In typical 90 Feet of Perfection fashion, I pay tribute to Jerry Coleman with some photos I both enjoy and find interesting. I hope you do as well.

Jerry Coleman Billy MartinJerry and Billy Martin relax at second base during a 1950’s spring training. Coleman and Martin are two of my favorite players in Baseball history for various reasons and the fact that they both came from the Bay area certainly contributes to this. Although Coleman was almost 4 years older than Martin and they came from different sides of the Bay, I’ve often wondered if they knew of each other, or crossed paths prior to playing with the Yankees?

Jerry Coleman Padres Manager'In 1980, Coleman left the confines of the broadcasting booth to manage the team. Legend has it that Coleman took the job after the Padres promised that he could return to his job in the booth after his tenure was over. The Friars only went 73-89 that season, but up to that point, it was the best record the club had accomplished in its 11-year existence.

In my opinion, the Padres should retire his #2 that he wore that season solely based on his significance to the team. Everth Cabrera currently wears the number for the team.

Jerry Coleman HOFJuly 31st, 2005. Jerry Coleman during what he described as one of the greatest days of his life. He ended his acceptance speech with the line “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.” I will always remember this fondly due to the fact that I felt like one of “my” guys made it to Cooperstown.

Dave Winfield may have gone into Cooperstown as a Padre, but not without some controversy, and Tony Gwynn was still a couple years away. Coleman may have played for the Yankees, but he was Padre through and through and it was quite special to see him honored with the Ford C. Frick Award. To watch a video of his induction speech, click HERE.

Jerry Coleman double play

“The best second baseman I ever saw on the double play.”Casey Stengel on Jerry Coleman

Jerry Coleman in Booth

I’ll never hear Jerry call a Padres game again and this is saddening. Yes, he didn’t do as many games as he used to, but the fact that I always knew he was there and still calling games, regardless of how often, was comforting.

I came across THIS video of Coleman’s last game in the booth and it made me both happy and sad. Andy Masur shared the booth with Jerry for what was the final home game of this last season, which resulted in the Padres beating the Diamondbacks on a walk-off single in the 11th inning by Alexi Amarista. Jerry finished the game by piping in with an ecstatic “What a finish!” This captured his childlike enthusiasm for the game of Baseball in a very heartwarming way.

Padres Pics #9.

GWYNN.
tony-gwynn-safeEverything about this photo rules. From the dirt flying in the air, to both team’s colorful and unique uniforms, to the umpire’s expression and Tony Gwynn‘s body language, this photo is incredible. Oh yeah, if Gwynn said that you’re safe, then in all likelihood, you’re probably safe; so I’m going to assume that was the outcome of this play.

WILLIAMS.
Ted Williams San Diego Padres
Back in July, I made the trek to San Diego to check out the All-Star Game festivities. It was an incredible experience and one that I’ll never forget. In ways, it was baseball (and Padres) overload, but I enjoyed every second of it, especially the All-Star Game Fan Fest.

At Fan Fest, there was a comprehensive timeline on display of San Diego baseball, from the late 1800s to the current Padres. This obviously included the PCL Padres and included the above photo of Ted Williams, which was taken at Lane Field in 1937. I honestly thought I’d seen every documented photo of The Splendid Splinter during his time with the Padres, but apparently, I was wrong, as this one caught my eye and sparked my curiosity.

There’s something that I can’t quite put my finger on that I love about this photo. Maybe it’s old Lane Field behind him, in addition to the look on his face which reflects that he may not have been prepared to pose for the photo, as his bat is by his side and a teammate is sitting to his left. It’s just a great photo of a young man who’d one day be known as the greatest hitter of all time. (Image Source: Getty Images)

NIEKRO.
joe-niekro-padres
The former knuckleballer, Joe Niekro played in the big leagues for 22 seasons, spending time with 7 different teams. One of those teams were the San Diego Padres, whom he played with during the organization’s inaugural season of 1969. He won 8 games and lost 17, with an ERA of 3.70 over 202 innings. Unfortunately, Niekro didn’t use his knuckleball during his time in San Diego, as he started using it a few years later

Unfortunately, Niekro didn’t throw the knuckleball during his time in San Diego. The story goes that he started using it a few years later after joining his brother, Phil Niekro with the Braves. Joe was never the knuckleballer that his brother was, but he was still pretty great. If he had the pitch back in 1969, the end result of those 200 innings would’ve been quite interesting. For a 24-year-old kid on an expansion team, in his 3rd season in the big leagues, it was already respectable.

The 5.5 Hole Is Born!

1998 Padres Ken Caminiti &Trevor HoffmanIf you’re reading this, you’ve come across this site via social media or a link on a fellow blogger’s site and for this, I thank you and formally welcome you to The 5.5 Hole. As some of you know, I’ve ran 90 Feet of Perfection for years. While I still very much love running that blog, I feel as if it’s time do something new. Essentially, I wanted to take the Padres content I share via 90 Feet of Perfection, my Padres related ideas and opinions from my Twitter account and the historical emphasis from my PCL Padres Instagram account, and throw it all in a blender and see what happens.

Why another team related fan site, you may ask? I answer this by saying “Why not?” What to expect, you may ask? I answer this by saying, “Everything!” The Padres social media and blogging community is somewhat small and intimate and I love what everyone brings to the table with their own sites, (which you can find above in my Fellow Friars section), however I wanted to contribute as well and in a way that 90 Feet of Perfection prohibits me from doing so. Needless to say, I’m excited and think this will be fun.

Padres Sticker and Buttons

To wrap up this inaugural post of The 5.5 Hole, I’d like to offer these FREE goodies to Padres fans checking out the blog: A vinyl sticker featuring the blog’s logo, and 1″ buttons featuring both the classic PCL Padres “Watcher” graphic and Tony Gwynn’s home run from the 1998 World Series. This is not a bribe to check out my site, but just free stuff to Padres fans that I think they’d enjoy. Just shoot me an email with your name and address and with the word “Padres” in the subject and I’ll send them out as soon as they’re ready. The only catch is that I only made 100 of each, so first come, first serve!

So that’s the first post, look for a “real” post in the next day or so though. One more thing, I’d suggest entering your email address in the “Follow The 5.5 Hole” to the right of this screen and you’ll get posts sent right to your inbox, if you’re into that sort of thing. 

Until next time- Keep the Faith, Win for Gwynn, etc etc..