If You Know The Padres, You Know Of Jerry Gross

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The Padres’ future can’t look much brighter.
But before heading into it, we pause here to consider its past.
Jerry Gross, who died last month at 81, was laid to rest on Friday at Miramar National Cemetery.
“Jerry who?” might be your response and that’s predictable.
Your Padres roots have to stretch into the club’s infancy to know of Gross and his impact.
It was in the then-San Diego Stadium booth that he shared with Duke Snider and Frank Sims — who also passed away recently. They made a 52-110 expansion team sound interesting in 1969, with Gross’ voice being the loudest.
Gross was also a rascal of a sports anchor for years at Channel 8. But it was his work with the Padres, that many recall fondly.
Shoot, the late Jerry Coleman, it seemed, always had Gross on his mind. Long after Gross quit calling Padres games, The Colonel opened one broadcast with a “Hi, I’m Jerry Gross. Wait, no I’m not, I’m Jerry Coleman.”
It was a classic Colonel malapropos but make no mistakes: Gross was a pro’s pro.
Pictures of this proud Army veteran’s colorful life were displayed at the ceremony. Sure there was Gross interviewing Padres and throwing out the first pitch.
But others showed him in between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, when he called the “Rumble in the Jungle.”
Gross was on the Cardinals’ Stan Musial’s hip in one, from his time at KMOX.
And while calling San Diego Rockets game — he was their first announcer in 1967 — he’s shown with Celtics great Bill Russell.
Gross worked for about every San Diego team and school in town and if he did so without his trademark sport coat and tie, I never saw it.
In his later years, I would run across him announcing Torrey Pines High games, making stars out of kids not aware of the galaxy Gross inhibited.
What I liked about Gross was how he treated younger people in the profession. Once I belonged to that group and was amazed how Gross was quick with a tip, or better, a scoop that had been vetted.
I miss Gross’ frequent phone calls; feel sad I didn’t have a chance to say good-bye.
So I do so here, bidding adieu to a local sports broadcasting legend.
The Padres have big plans this year. Hopefully, they include tipping their cap to one of their originals, Jerry Gross.
+ Contact Jay Paris at jparis@bcaradio.com

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