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Vincent Maurice Coleman (born September 22, 1961 in Jacksonville, Floridamarker) is an Americanmarker former Major League Baseball player, best known for his years with the St. Louis Cardinals. Primarily a left fielder, Coleman played from to and set a number of stolen base records. He was a switch-hitter and threw right-handed.


Coleman attended William M. Raines High School in Jacksonvillemarker. He began setting records as a college player. In 1981, he set the all-time single season stolen base record at Florida A&Mmarker with 65 steals in 69 attempts. He led NCAA Division I that year in both total steals and stolen base percentage. While at Florida A&M, Coleman was also a kicker and punter on the football team, where he followed in the footsteps of his cousin, Greg Coleman who was also a punter at FAMU in the 1970s and went on to a 12-year career in the NFL. Coleman was named to the all-conference team in both 1980 and 1981 and is fondly remembered by FAMU football fans for kicking a game-winning 34-yard field goal in an unlikely 16-13 Rattler win over Division I-A University of Miami in 1979.

Major League Baseball career

He chose to forego an NFL career when he was drafted in the 10th round of the 1982 Major League Baseball Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. Coleman continued his record breaking ways in the minor leagues, where he still holds the all-time professional mark for stolen bases in a single season with 145 for Macon of the South Atlantic League in ; notably, Coleman set the mark despite missing a month of the season with a broken hand. He further demonstrated his speed and basestealing ability with 101 steals for the Louisville Redbirds of the American Association before being called up to the majors.

Coleman stole 110 bases in his debut season in , easily setting a major league rookie record. Benny Kauff had had 75 steals as a rookie in the Federal League in ; Juan Samuel was considered MLB's rookie record holder with 72 steals in . Coleman stole over 100 bases in each of the following two seasons as well, making him the only player in the 20th century to post three consecutive seasons of 100 or more steals and the first player in Major League history to steal 100 bases in the first three seasons of their career. Before signing as a free agent with New York, Coleman led the National League in stolen bases in every season he played with the Cardinals ( - ), becoming one of just four players ever to lead his league in six consecutive seasons. The other players to accomplish this feat are Rickey Henderson, Luis Aparicio, and Maury Wills. Coleman, Henderson, Wills and Lou Brock are the only players to steal 100 bases in a season. Only Coleman and Henderson have three different 100-steal seasons to their credit, and only Coleman reached the total in three consecutive years.

As the leadoff hitter and baserunning sparkplug for St. Louis, Coleman helped the team reach the 1985 playoffs. But he suffered a freak injury prior to the fourth game of the National League Championship Series, when the automatic tarpaulin at Busch Stadiummarker rolled over his leg during routine stretching exercises. The injury sidelined him for the rest of the postseason, and the Cardinals eventually lost a seven-game World Series to Kansas City. Following the season, Coleman became the fourth-ever unanimous selection for the NL Rookie of the Year Award.

He offended many baseball fans, the press and many African Americans in 1985 when he declared "I don’t know nothin’ about him. Why are you asking me about Jackie Robinson?" Responding to Coleman, Rachel Robinson, Jackie Robinson's widow said, "I hope somehow he'll learn and be embarrassed by his own ignorance."

Coleman compiled the best season of his major league career in , when he posted a .289 batting average and a .363 on base percentage while totaling 180 hits, 109 stolen bases, and 121 runs scored. He stole second and third base in the same inning 13 times that year. Coleman played in the World Series that year, the only one he would appear in. In June, he recorded his 500th stolen base in just his 804th game, the fewest that any player has needed to reach that plateau.

After leaving St. Louis for the Mets via free agency, Coleman tripled his salary, but his career took a quick downward spiral. Coleman was one of three Met players named in a complaint filed by a 31 year old woman in Florida, although prosecutors did not pursue charges in the case. In April , Coleman injured Dwight Gooden's arm by recklessly swinging a golf club in the clubhouse. Three months later, Coleman was charged with endangerment when he threw a lit firecracker into a crowd of baseball fans waiting for autographs in the Dodger Stadiummarker parking lot. The explosion injured three children, including a two-year-old, Amanda Santos. He was sentenced to 200 hours of community service for the incident, and was suspended by the Mets for the rest of the season. At the end of the season, the Mets traded him, with cash, to the Kansas City Royals for Kevin McReynolds.

He recorded 76 steals in 179 games as a Royal before being traded to the Seattle Mariners in mid-1995. 1996 found Coleman with the Cincinnati Reds, where he was ineffective. Released by the team in June, he signed with the California Angels but never played a game for the team. Coleman finished his active career with 14 unproductive at-bats for the 1997 Detroit Tigers.

He ranks sixth in all-time career steals, with 752.


  • Sixth all-time for career stolen bases (752)
  • National League Rookie of the Year (1985)
  • Most stolen bases in a season by a rookie, with 110 in 1985
  • Holds three of the top six stolen base seasons: #3 (110 in 1985), #4 (109 in 1987) and #6 (107 in 1986). The three seasons were consecutive.
  • The last man to steal 100 bases in a season, in 1987.
  • Two-time All-Star (1988–89)
  • Led the Major Leagues in stolen bases four times (1985-87, 1990)
  • Led the National League in stolen bases six consecutive years (1985-90)
  • Holds an MLB record with 50 consecutive stolen bases without being caught stealing (September 18, 1988 through July 26, 1989)

See also


  1. October 13, 1985: Coleman Bites the Tarp |
  2. June 3, 2007: Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson's First Season | New York Times

External links

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