Norm Sherry: Former Mets Catcher (1963) Who Helped Sandy Koufax & Became a Successful Pitching Coach

Norm Sherry
was born on July 16th, 1931, in New York City. The Sherry family soon moved out West to Los Angeles California where the Sherry brothers played baseball & went to high school.

In 1950 the five foot eleven right-handed hitting catcher, was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers as a free agent. His bother Norm would eventually get signed by the Dodgers as well.

Military Service: Norm went off to serve two years in the Military during the Korean War Conflict with the US Army, returning to baseball in 1954.

He spent most of the decade of the fifties in the minor leagues, hitting 44 HRs with 200 RBIs batting .245. 

MLB Career: In 1959 Norm played in two games at the big-league level for the World Champion Dodgers. 

In the second game of the season, Sherry was hit by a pitch in his first at bat. In his next at bat he hit a two-run single for his first career hit. He was sent back down & returned in the Dodgers 150th game of the season where he appeared as a defensive replacement. 

1959 World Series: Obviously, Norm did not play in the World Series win over the White Sox, but his brother Larry was named the World Series MVP. Larry was 2-0 with two saves & a 0.71 ERA in the Series.

In 1960 he & Joe Pignatano were back up catchers to Johnny Roseboro. This season he was teammates with his brother Larry & caught a few games for him behind the plate.

Sandy Koufax Credit: Norm Sherry’s claim to fame was talking to a young Sandy Koufax who was wild & having control issues early on. In 1961 Norm told Koufax to take something off his fast ball. That & some other tips from what he saw catching him, helped Koufax gain his control. 

Koufax went on to dominate the game in the sixties, winning three Cy Young Award, throwing four no hitters, a perfect game, win four World Series & go on to the baseball Hall of Fame. Arthritis & arm trouble ended Sandy's career at age 30 or who knows what he would have accomplished.

In 1962 as his teammate, Sherry would see Koufax strike out 216 batters wile going 14-7 with a 2.54 ERA. Norm Sherry spent four years with the Dodgers in a backup role catching 125 games. He batted .215 with18 HRs & 69 RBIs in 194 games.

In October of 1962 Norm Sherry's contract was sold to the New York Mets. 

Mets Career:  The 1963 Mets would use five different players at catcher. Norm Sherry would catch in 61 games. Choo Choo Coleman (91 games) Jesse Gonder (31 games) Chris Cannizzaro (15 games) & Sammy Taylor (17 games).

Sherry was reunited with his old Dodgers teammate & batterymate Roger Craig. The two spent four years together in Los Angeles. Their bong would last a lifetime as Sherry would work as pitching coach under Craig in the future.

On April 20th in just his fourth Mets game, he hit a HR off the Braves Warren Spahn in Milwaukee helping the Mets to a 3-1 win. Two weeks later on May 4th, he hit his second HR & the last of his career He hit a three-run shot off the Giants Billy O'Dell in a17-4 walloping of the Mets.

Walk Off Hit: On July 16th, in the bottom of the 9th inning of a 3-3 tie, Sherry singled off the Houston Colt 45's Harry Woodeshick, driving in Hot Rod Kanehl with the games walk off winning run at the Polo Grounds.

In 61 games behind the plate Norm threw out 51% of would-be base stealers, posting a .980 fielding %. At the plate he hit just .136 with 2 HRs & 11 RBIs.

Career Stats: In his five-year career he hit .215 with 107 hits 9 doubles a triple 18 HRs & 69 RBIs. He struck out 102 times walked 37 times posted a .279 on base% & a .625 OPS. Behind the plate in 186 games, he threw out 38% of would-be base stealers, posted a .980 fielding % with 70 assists & 14 double plays.

Retirement: Sherry retired from playing in his early thirties. At first, he was a scout, then
managed in the minor leagues with the Dodgers & California Angels organizations in the late sixties.

Coaching & Managing: Sherry was pitching coach with the Angels big league club (1970-1971) returning in 1976 under manager Dick Williams. After Dick Williams was fired, Sherry was named the team's manger in July 1976. 

His Angels went 37-29 the rest of the way. The Angels acquired Bobby Grich & Joe Rudi in the off season & expectations were high. But the team was 39-42 in in fifth place in July & Sherry was fired.

Sherry then went on to have a successful career as a pitching coach, under Dick Williams with the Montreal Expos & San Diego Padres. They won the 1984 NL Pennant losing in the World Series to the Detroit Tigers. Sherry was let go due to conflicts with some of the pitchers. 

Starting in 1986 Sherry was a very successful as pitching coach with the San Francisco Giants 91986-1991) working under former Dodger & Mets teammate Roger Craig. 

In 1989 their Giants won the NL pennant losing to the Oakland A's in the Bay Area Earthquake World Series. It was Craig who became one of the inventors of the split finger fastball.

Honors: Sherry was one of just seven Jewish managers in MLB history. He was inducted into the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

Family: Norm was married twice & had three children. He was survived by his second wife Linda.

Passing: In March of 2021, Norm passed away at an assisted living facility in California, he was 89 years old.


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