|Catcher / Manager|
|Born: July 16, 1931|
New York, New York
|April 12, 1959, for the Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 26, 1963, for the New York Mets|
|Runs batted in||69|
Born in New York City, he was the second of four sons of Harry Scharaga Sherry and Mildred "Minnie" (Walman) Sherry, and is Jewish. Both sides of the family were Jewish immigrants from Russia, and his maternal great-grandfather was a rabbi. The families escaped separately from anti-semitic pogroms. Some of his relatives who settled in Europe were killed in the Holocaust. His paternal grandparents, Max and Sarah Scharaga, came to the United States in 1898, and around 1920 his father changed their surname to Sherry. His father worked in the dry cleaning business, and his mother Mildred was a seamstress and milliner. The Sherry family moved to Los Angeles during the early 1930s.
His brothers, George and Larry Sherry, were pitchers in professional baseball. Larry had a successful, 11-season MLB career as a relief pitcher and was the Most Valuable Player of the 1959 World Series; he was Norm's teammate from 1959 through 1962 and on May 7, 1960, they became the first all-Jewish battery in Major League Baseball history.
A right-handed hitter who stood 5 feet 11 inches (1.80 m) tall and weighed 180 pounds (82 kg), Norm Sherry spent seven years working his way up through the Dodger farm system, and another two in military service. By the time Norm reached the Dodgers, in 1959 for a two-game "cup of coffee," he was 28 years of age and the team was based in his home city of Los Angeles. He made the team as second-string backstop (behind John Roseboro) from 1960 through 1962.
In 1961, Sherry's advice contributed to the career turnaround of left-handed pitcher Sandy Koufax, perhaps the greatest southpaw hurler in baseball history. Sherry and Koufax were the Dodger battery against the Minnesota Twins in a spring training game in Orlando, Florida, and Koufax was struggling with his control, up to then a career-long problem.
After Koufax had walked the first three hitters he faced, Sherry went out to the mound and said: "'Why don't you take something off the ball and just put it in there? Don't try to throw it so hard. Just put it in there and let them hit it.' I went back behind the plate. Good God! He tried to ease up, and he was throwing harder than when he tried to. We came off the field, and I said, 'Sandy, I don't know if you realize it, but you just now threw harder than when you were trying to.'"
As for Sherry, he batted .283 with eight home runs in a part-time role in 1960, but his statistics suffered as he sat on the bench, or in the bullpen, in 1961-62. His average dropped to .256 (1961), and then to .182 (1962).
The Dodgers sold his contract to the New York Mets on October 14, 1962. He batted only .136 in a career-high 63 games played (and 147 at-bats) in New York in 1963, and his major league playing career ended.
He coached for the Angels in 1970 and 1971 under skipper Lefty Phillips, and returned to the minor leagues to manage their Double-A and Triple-A affiliates from 1972 through 1975 before rejoining the California coaching staff for 1976 under Dick Williams.
Williams had been extremely successful in his previous terms with the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics, but his cold and hard-edged demeanor did not go over well with a losing Angels club. The Halos were 18 games under the .500 mark on July 23, 1976, and in the midst of a player revolt when Williams was given his walking papers.
Sherry, named his replacement, salvaged the season somewhat with a 37-29 record as skipper. That winter, the Angels signed high-profile free agents such as Bobby Grich and Joe Rudi and expected to contend in the American League West in 1977. But the team struggled and was only 39-42 and in 5th place on July 11 when Sherry was released in favor of his third-base coach, Dave Garcia. The firing marked the end of his major league managing career, with a career ledger of 76 wins and 71 defeats (.517). Through 2018, he was one of nine Jewish managers in MLB history. The others were Gabe Kapler, Bob Melvin, Brad Ausmus, Jeff Newman, Lou Boudreau, Lipman Pike, Larry Rothschild and Lefty Phillips.
However, Sherry returned to the coaching ranks, ultimately as an "official" pitching coach, working with Williams with the Montreal Expos and San Diego Padres, and with another ex-Dodger, Roger Craig, with the San Francisco Giants.