It is, perhaps, fitting that this afternoon I finished reading Tom Wolfe’s book A Man in Full.
I strongly recommend the book, but its title became all the more poignant a few hours later when I got the sad news about Jerry’s death.
Tom Wolfe describes a man in full as someone whose accomplishments are larger than life, someone who causes everyone in the room to stand up when he enters the room.
Jerry did that.
He didn’t command people to respect them. He lived his life in a way that caused us to see him that way.
He started his public life in baseball. He joined the New York Yankees in 1949 and played in the the All Star game in 1950. He also played in 6 World Series. His playing career ended after the 1957 season.
He delayed his entry into major league baseball for World War II; in the middle of his career he was called back for the Korean War. He was an aviator in the USMC. He traded some of his best baseball years to defend his country. Hard to imagine that would happen today.
For those of us who weren’t alive for World War II or Korea, Jerry was a fixture with the San Diego Padres, as both a manager and a broadcaster.
He never bragged about his accomplishments and was honestly embarrassed by the attention he was given. We who followed the Padres knew well the phrases “Oh Doctor” and “You Can Hang a Star on That.”
Jerry, you were a man in full and we will miss you.