Choo Choo Coleman
vs. Other Teams
Game Log Memories of
Choo Choo Coleman
Choo Choo Coleman
Ultimate Mets Database popularity ranking: 109 of 1043 players
Clarence Coleman
Born: August 18, 1935 at Orlando, Fla.
Died: August 15, 2016 at Orangeburg, S.C.
Throws: Right Bats: Left
Height: 5.09 Weight: 165

Choo Choo Coleman was the most popular Ultimate Mets Database daily lookup on August 25, 2010, February 17, 2011, February 1, 2012, September 28, 2015, August 15, 2016, August 16, 2016, and August 17, 2016.

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First Mets game: July 16, 1962
Last Mets game: April 23, 1966

Share your memories of Choo Choo Coleman


Richard S.
One day on Kiner's Korner in 1962, Ralph Kiner asked Choo Choo "What's your wife's name and what is she like?" Choo Choo replied "My wife's name is Mrs. Coleman and she likes me." Kiner never had him on Kiner's Korner again!

Bob Hackett
His lefty stoke was perfect for the Polo Grounds. His homers were usually ropes launched over the short right field porch. He could fly on the bases, too bad he couldn't catch. Love you anyway Choo-choo, lots of fond memories.

Joe Figliola
July 20, 2001
Not many people remember that Choo Choo had a cup of coffee with the ninth place Mets in 1966. Yes, there is a card of him from that year (another hard-to-find high number). He was 3-16 that year before catching the last train to Clarksville!

Mike Tenenbaum
August 19, 2001
Choo Choo was my father's favorite Met. But the only games my father understood were pinochle and soccer. Whenever Clarence would get to the batter's box, my father would exclaim, "I saw him hit a home run!"

Actually, the homer was a 250 foot Polo Grounds shot, but what the heck, right?

To clarify some of the Kiner stories, Kiner asked Clarence how he had gotten the name Choo Choo. "I don't know." was the answer.

Leon Janney, the host of the Rheingold Rest (the Mets' beer sponsor at the time) interviewed Choo Choo's wife. For the first time fans got some elaboration on this private man. She met Clarence at the public tennis courts in Orlando, FL. She recalled this soft spoken master of the understatement as a wonderful tennis player.

Phil Rizzuto made an interesting observation of Choo Choo's quickness as a backstop during the first Mayor's Trophy Game. "He gets to first base before the batters do!"

With Marv Throneberry at 1b, there was a definite need for a catcher to back up the first baseman.

After retiring from baseball, Choo Choo became a butcher in Philadelphia.

November 26, 2001
Another funny story about Choo Choo: in 1963, during Duke Snider's only year with the Mets, he told a reporter how Choo Choo didn't know his name. Having spent months on the same team, the reporter didn't believe him. To prove his point, Duke said to the Met catcher, "Choo Choo, do you know me?" Choo Choo replied, "Yes, you number 4."

December 17, 2002
Just an addition to the famous Kiner*s Korner story:

Earlier in the year (2002) I was at an autograph session with ol Ralphie himself. As Kiner was signing the item I gave him, I started to mention the Choo Choo story. Kiner just stopped writing, looked up at me and started to laugh! He told me that it was by far the worst interview he ever had. After just a few questions to Choo Choo, there was nothing more to talk about.

Karl de Vries
December 25, 2002
The only story I can contribute about Choo Choo is one that Roger Craig once said: "Choo Choo would give you the sign and then look down to see what it was."

February 3, 2003
A pitcher in the minor leagues was asked who the toughest guy to pitch to was in the league. Choo Choo was his catcher.... His reply was Choo Choo Coleman...

A sportswriter once said that Choo Choo always caught as if he were fighting a swarm of bees.

clarence coleman
March 27, 2003
Choo-Choo Coleman is my hero because he is a great player who at the time started his career when it was particulaly hard for minority players to gain respect. He did his best while it lasted. That's more than I can say about most. Again I commend him on a job well done. My hero and father.

flushing flash
April 1, 2003
So tell us, Clarence, what IS your mother's name and what's she like?

June 19, 2003
In response to what Les wrote all the way back in 2001, I think it was actually Elio Chacon and not Duke Snider who was number four. I may be wrong though.

Bob P
June 19, 2003
Sorry, Brooklyn511. Accoring to Mets by the Numbers ( Chacon wore number 7. Charlie Neal wore number 4 in 1962. Snider wore numbers 11 and 4 in 1963.

Phil Thiegou
April 30, 2004
Ralph Kiner (of all people) told a story on how Choo Choo got his nickname. Supposedly in the minors, when he would get in the catcher's squat, he would step on the umpire's shoes, and kept doing that to the point he wore down their shoes by "chewing" them up, then an umpire refered to him as Choo Choo, thus the name stuck. Ralph didn't mention the Kiner's Korner appearence. I was born after he left the majors, so other than that I have no stories on Choo Choo, other than him showing up at the occasional Old Timers Day.

September 8, 2004
If Choo Choo Coleman did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.

He really symbolized a lot of the futility of the original Mets, yet at the same time, their resilience. He wasn't flustered by the team's lousy play and record. He just kept going out there, calling everybody "bub."

I thought his "You're Number 4" was a reference to Rod Kanehl or Charlie Neal.

Jonathan Stern
September 8, 2004
Not only was Choo Choo a well-known member of the Casey Stengel Mets. He also played for an abysmal 1961 Phillies team that lost a record-setting 23 games in a row and finished with a record of 47-107. A career like Coleman's must do wonders for the human spirit.

From behind the plate, Coleman used to give the pitcher the sign, then look down to see what it was. Go figure.

Jonathan Stern
September 8, 2004
To take Clarence Coleman's entry a step or two further, Choo Choo Coleman was one of the very first black players in the history of the Philadelphia Phillies. Consider that the Phils were notoriously "slow to integrate," and were, in fact, the last in the National League to do so. Consider that Jackie Robinson considered Philadelphia, the Phillies, and their often appalling fans to be the worst he had to deal with during his inaugural season (so much for Brotherly Love). Consider that those same fans later drove Richie Allen first to drink, then to drawing trade requests and obscene messages in the Connie Mack Stadium dirt, then out of Philly altogether, disfiguring a potential Hall-of-Famer career in the process.

Consider that the historic Curt Flood controversy was reputed to have come about because, among other things, Flood simply did not want to go to Philadelphia. He was reportedly too proud to allow himself to be sold as a slave to the franchise that gave Jackie Robinson more garbage than any other.

Meanwhile, stories of the trials endured by black ballplayers within the Phillies' minor league system are the stuff of legend. This probably accounted for why a number of black Phillies - Coleman among them - said very little to the press and sometimes came off as awkward and inarticulate. They must have been shellshocked and emotionally, if not physically, scarred for life by their experiences in Little Rock and other minor league towns in the South.

So before you laugh at the stories of Choo Choo Coleman and his seasons with the Mets, understand that while he may not have been a good major leaguer, he must have been one tough customer.

May 3, 2005
At the end of the '62 (or '63) season Choo-Choo hit a ninth inning three run homer over the right field foul pole and on the roof at the Polo Grounds (what a ballpark!) knocking the Cincinnati Reds out of the pennant race. It was a close call (the Reds had a great view in the 3rd base dugout) and poor Fred Hutchinson went crazy pleading his case to no avail. Hutch even kicked the ump in the shin guards. To my knowledge nothing came of that. I guess Ford Frick thought blowing a shot at a pennant by losing to a team like the Mets was punishment enough.

Ron Meisner
July 8, 2005
There is quite a bit more to rhe story of Choo Choo's ninth inning heroics. It may well have been among the last home runs ever hit in The Polo Grounds. The date was September 21, 1963. The Reds had blown two separate 5-run leads in this, the 2nd game of a doubleheader. The remaining crowd of diehards was more than restless. Casey Stengel was forced to make several announcements asking the rowdy crowd to calm down and stop throwing anything that wasn't tied down at Frank Robinson, attempting to play right field. The last warning quieted things barely enough so that the Mets miraculously managed to get two men on base.

Of course as in any great baseball drama it was the bottom of the ninth with the Mets trailing 12 to 10. Up to the plate stepped Choo Choo. He hit what we called "A Polo Grounds Cheapie" just over the wall inside the foul pole in right. The stunned throng momentarily fell silent not realizing at first what had just occurred. When it sank in, absolute bedlam broke out. Choo Choo was roundly cheered and doffed his cap.

The players from both squads eventually left the field by way of the unique clubhouse doors in center field, following the path that Willie Mays took in 1954 when he nade what fondly became known as "The Catch".

Jamey Bumbalo
December 17, 2006
It's interesting to read the postings about Choo Choo, from the funny stories to the comments about black ballplayers in Philadelphia. Because of his colorful name, Choo Choo's Topps 1963 card was the first Mets card I ever bought. The card notes that in 1962 he hit better in the majors than he did in the minors (.250 versus .195). Speaking of baseball cards, in 1961 (as a Phillie), 1963, and 1964 Choo Choo appears with a less-than-intelligent look (and I don't mean to sound cruel), but on his 1966 card (which goes for about $20), he has a big smile. Early in Choo Choo's career he played for Orlando, left organized baseball, then returned to play for Orlando. In 1963 he played once in the outfield for the Mets (but had no chances). Also in '63, he had five stolen bases but was thrown out five times. Finally, in 1963 he had 44 hits with three homers, but NO doubles or triples. I would love to hear stories from Choo Choo, who along with Marvelous Marv has to be one of the most interesting early Mets.

James Van Der Wall
March 16, 2007
As a loyal viewer of Kiner's Korner, I remember a different interview with Choo Choo. The reliability of this remembrance is close to 100%. Ralph Kiner asked him "Choo Choo, where did your nickname come from." After a long silence, he replied "I don't know." That was what I remember being the last time Choo Choo was on Kiner's postgame show. Also, I remember Casey Stengel calling Choo Choo the "best low ball catcher in baseball." Whatever that meant!

Mets fan in Maine
September 16, 2007
I thought I'd read all the stories about Choo Choo's alleged lack of intelligence, but I just saw another one. Supposedly Casey Stengel, frustrated with the Mets' incompetence, held up a ball and said, "This is a baseball." Coleman is alleged to have interjected, "Wait. You're going too fast." I relate this NOT to denigrate Choo Choo Coleman; too many anecdotes about him are negative. I wish someone could track Choo Choo down before too long and get his side of his baseball career. I would love to hear his insights.

jt bklyn
June 29, 2008
It's hard to believe that in 1969 he was still playing in the Mets system with the Tidewater AAA team (no mention about about 1968). Who knows - if there had been any catcher injuries that year he might have been called up.

Wish he could log on here and share some of his stories.

rich morgan
August 16, 2016
Sad to hear he passed away the other day. Two things I remember about him: 1. He made his way onto the 1966 Mets with "sheer determination" per the 66 Mets yearbook (which I still have) and in his later years did several autograph shows here in the NY area and always charged a decent price to sign which was good for the fans and I'm sure brought a lot of nice memories from them his way. RIP Choo Choo.

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