Norm Sherry mourned: coach, Koufax mentor

March 10th, 2021
Pitching coach Norm Sherry, left, and pitcher Steve Bedrosian celebrate the Giants winning the 1989 National League Championship Series.

Norm Sherry -- the former Angels manager and longtime Major League coach who spent five seasons as a big league catcher and famously helped mold a young -- died Monday, his family said. He was 89.

Sherry spent four seasons with the Dodgers from 1959-62 and one with the Mets in '63. He managed the Angels from 1976-77 and served as pitching coach on pennant-winning teams in San Diego in '84 and San Francisco in '89.

Sherry had a .215/.279/.346 slash line with 18 home runs across 194 big league games. He helped a young Koufax realize his potential on the mound. The two worked together often, and Sherry is credited with working Koufax through his early control problems.

Sherry was a member of the Dodgers team that won the 1959 World Series. He didn't play in that series, but his brother, Larry, a right-handed pitcher, took home MVP honors for that Fall Classic.

After his final big league season in 1963, Sherry played another year in the Minors with the Mets before transitioning into a coaching role with the Dodgers. He later spent one season scouting for the Yankees, before joining the Angels' staff in ’69.

"Working with young players and the impression he left on people was probably his biggest legacy, I think," Norm's son, Mike, said. "Everybody liked him, and his working with Sandy Koufax was probably his shining moment."

Sherry worked his way up through the Angels' system as manager of several Minor League affiliates. In 1976, he was promoted to third-base coach on the big league club and then took over as manager when Halos skipper Dick Williams was fired midseason.

Sherry helmed the Angels to a 37-29 mark the rest of the way that season, but he was fired the following July after a 39-42 start, finishing with a career record of 76-71. He followed that managerial stint with four seasons as pitching coach in Montreal, three in San Diego and six in San Francisco.

Upon his retirement, Sherry moved back to the San Diego area and was a frequent guest at Padres games. He had helmed one of the greatest pitching staffs in franchise history in 1984 -- a group that included , , Dave Dravecky, Eric Show and -- and was present when the Padres celebrated the 30th anniversary of that team at Petco Park in 2014.

After spending four decades in baseball, Sherry's lasting legacy was the impact he made on droves of big league talent. Along with Koufax, Sherry also played a key role in the early development of Hall of Famers and , among many other players.

"He loved it all," Mike Sherry said. "When they grew up, that's all they did. They would hop the fence at Fairfax High School to go play baseball. He played and practiced, played and practiced. The ability to dedicate his life to baseball, it just meant everything to him. He just loved the sport -- and the people, too."