The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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Ralph Coleman, Jr. Oral History Interview

Life history interview conducted by Chris Petersen.

July 8, 2014


“The Early Years of Beaver Baseball”  July 8, 2014  Location: Coleman residence, Portland, Oregon.  Watch Video | Download Transcript (PDF)

Much of this interview is devoted to Ralph Coleman, Jr.'s memories of his father, Ralph Coleman. Coleman Jr. recounts his understanding of his father's upbringing in Canby and his attending Oregon Agricultural College, with particular focus paid to his pursuits as an athlete, including his standout performances in track and field. Likewise discussed are Coleman's association with the college's Osolito Club, his friendships with Spec Keene and Douglas McKay, and his acquaintance with Linus Pauling, with whom he lived for a period of time.

From there, the session focuses more intently on the early years of Beaver baseball, including Ralph Coleman's development as a coach, the baseball program's material circumstances during its infancy, travel to away games, and the baseball facility. Coleman Jr. also recounts his memories of the 1952 OSC team that appeared in the College World Series and of a handful of notable baseball players that came through the Oregon State program in its first decades. Personalities within the OSC Athletic Department comprise another topic of interest, including Coleman Jr.'s recollections of Slats Gill, Lon Stiner and Paul Valenti. The session's focus on Ralph Coleman concludes with discussion of his affinity for golf, the dedication of Coleman Field in 1981, and Coleman's association with the Portland Mavericks independent professional team.

The remainder of the interview is devoted to Ralph Coleman Jr.'s experiences as a native son of Corvallis and an OSC undergraduate. Attention is paid to memories of growing up in Corvallis during the 1930s and 1940s, the Depression, and World War II, including activities at Camp Adair just north of Corvallis. Coleman Jr. also recounts his memories of playing baseball and working mill jobs during the summertime. He notes his fraternity experience with Delta Upsilon and recalls a housemate's prank wherein a concrete symbol of the University of Oregon was blown up with dynamite. He likewise reflects on social life, his baseball career, his academic progression and campus culture during his undergraduate tenure. The interview concludes with a summary of Coleman Jr.'s continued association with OSU and his thoughts on the successes enjoyed by Oregon State baseball.