Being able to decide for himself that this will be his last season as a baseball coach at the University of Delaware makes for “a happy ending,” Jim Sherman said Saturday afternoon.
UD had just announced that Sherman will retire at the end of what will be his 22nd season as head coach this spring.
Sherman took a break from practice on Saturday at the Delaware Field House, saying that Delaware has the improved pitching and depth for a successful season that would be a truly happy ending.
The Blue Hens will open the 2022 season in Stetson on February 18. Delaware plans to honor Sherman during a homestand against Elon on May 6-8.
“In this business,” Sherman said, “sometimes the endings don’t go well. People are being fired left and right.
“I’ve had a great run and personally wish I’d brought home more conference championships. But I think the pieces are finally right.”
As an example, Sherman cited that the pitching coach is now a full-time position at Delaware staffed by Jad Prachniak, also the associate head coach and recruiting coordinator. Prachniak left West Chester, where as head coach from 2011-19 he led the Golden Rams to a pair of NCAA Division II titles and a record 273-127-1, and he will certainly be a strong contender to replace Sherman.
Sherman, who turns 62 before the start of the season, said after the COVID-19 pandemic halted the 2020 season after 15 games and forced a reduced schedule with fewer travel in 2021, he just wanted another year of normalcy before retiring. went.
“It’s two years of all that,” he said, “and it’s, like, I just want another year of a regular season and call it a career. 62 years is good enough in this business, at least for me, and give someone else a chance to take over this program and lead it into the future.”
Sherman will continue to work in the athletic department after he is done coaching, helping with fundraising and other projects.
“It’s hard for me to put into words what Coach Sherman has meant to baseball in Delaware and Delaware,” said athletic director Chrissi Rawak in the UD announcement.
“Since day one it was clear how much he cared about this program and the experience of our student-athlete and that has never wavered. I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Coach Sherm and am delighted to encourage him and this team during his final season as coach.”
Born of William Penn High and a former Blue Hens slugger, Sherman has been the head coach of UD since 2001. His teams are 581-506 in total and 250-246 in conference play. Only six of his teams have lost records.
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Sherman has long been hailed for the strong Delaware representation he has had on his roster, with 23 of the 40 players on the 2022 First State high school squad. Forty-one of his former players have played professionally, including recent Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Chad Kuhl, who is currently a free agent.
Sherman was an assistant and then head coach from 1995-2000 in Delaware under Bob Hannah, whom he succeeded. Hannah was the coach of Delaware from 1965-2000, winning 1,053 games en route to induction into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Hannah succeeded Tubby Raymond, the legendary soccer coach from 1966-2001 who was UD baseball coach from 1956-64, meaning Delaware has had only three baseball coaches in the past 66 springs.
Prior to joining Hannah, Sherman was head coach at then-Wilmington College, which he led to a record 218-128 from 1987-94. Before going into NCAA Division II, Sherman led the Wildcats to a few NAIA World Series berths. He was also Wilmington’s athletic director. When counting his years with Wilmington, Sherman’s overall head coaching record is 799-634.
Sherman’s first UD team won the 2001 America East title and reached the NCAA tournament for the fourth straight year, tying the school record with 45 wins. But Delaware switched to the significantly more competitive Colonial Athletic Association the following season.
In the CAA standings, Delaware shared one regular season title (2007) and placed third (20012 and 2013) twice. The Hens reached the championship round of the CAA tournament before losing in 2004, 2007 and 2012.
They then defeated UNC-Wilmington 10-3 at home to the Seahawks to take the 2017 title and earn the school’s 18th NCAA baseball pitch, but first in 16 years. At the NCAA tournament at Texas Tech, Delaware lost competitive games to hosts Red Raiders and Arizona, finishing 34-23.
Delaware has not qualified for the CAA tournament since 2018, although no such event was held in 2020 when the season ended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Delaware went 12-22 overall last year with an 8-16 CAA score.
Sherman was inducted into the Delaware Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008 and the UD Athletics Hall of Fame a year later. He was first-team All-State with William Penn in 1977 and 1978.
As a Blue Hens outfielder, Sherman hit .347, hit 46 home runs (still No. 3 all-time at UD) and racked up 227 runs (No. 2 all-time) from 1979-82. He was a 14th round draft pick of the Houston Astros, reaching the Triple-A level, hitting .267 in six minor league seasons, before coming home to become coach.
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