Jim Sherman, Delaware Blue Hens

Delaware Blue Hens

Former standout outfielder and University of Delaware Athletics Hall of Fame member Jim Sherman is in his 18th year as the head coach of the Delaware Blue Hens baseball program in 2018, and his 24th year at the school.

The Delaware Blue Hens are coming off a 2017 campaign in which the team posted a 33-22 overall record and advanced to its first NCAA Regional since 2001. The Blue Hens led the Colonial Athletic Association in both hitting and pitching for the first time in program history. Delaware also became the first school to lead the conference in both categories since 2002.

Sherman served as Delaware’s associate head coach from 1995-2000. In 2001, he took over for Hall of Fame head coach Bob Hannah, who retired following the 2000 season after 36 years at the helm of the UD baseball program.

Sherman, who was inducted into the Delaware Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008, the University of Delaware Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009, and the Cape Cod Summer Baseball League Hall of Fame in 2012, is the 15th head coach in UD history and just the third since 1956.

He has compiled a 17-year mark of 509-417 at Delaware, good for a winning percentage of .550. In league play, he has led Delaware to a regular season mark of 221-204 (.520).

His 23-year overall head coaching record, which includes a seven-year stint at Wilmington (Del.) University in 1987-94, stands at an impressive 727-545 (.572). He coached his 1,000th career game as a collegiate head coach in Delaware’s CAA Tournament game vs. UNCW on May 25, 2012, in Harrisonburg, Va. Sherman won his 700th career game on March 12, 2017, and became just the second coach in UD history to win 500 games at Delaware on May 7, 2017.

Sherman has led the Delaware Blue Hens to the conference tournament 11 times in his 17 seasons, guiding squads to the league championship game four times with an America East title and NCAA Tournament berth in 2001 and Colonial Athletic Association runner-up finishes in 2004, 2007, and 2012. His Delaware teams have posted 30 or more wins eight times,  have had 13 winning seasons and have advanced to the CAA Tournament five times in the last six seasons. In 2017, the Blue Hens took home the CAA Tournament title, compiling a perfect 4-0 record and completing one of the most dominant runs in conference history. Delaware led all but two innings of the tournament, outscoring its opponents 38-14 over the four games.

In 2013, the Delaware Blue Hens went 33-22 overall and finished in third place in the CAA regular season standings. Among the highlights were a berth in the CAA Tournament and a Liberty Bell Classic championships thanks to an 8-3 win over Villanova on Apr. 16 at Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia.

In 2012, he led the Blue Hens to a record of 31-27 and a third-place finish in the CAA regular season. Delaware battled throughout the CAA Tournament, coming back from a second-day loss to advance to the title game before falling to champion UNCW 10-8.

Recognized throughout college baseball as one of the game’s top hitting instructors, his talent as a hitter, both at the collegiate and professional levels, has carried over into his ability to work with his hitters.

Since becoming the hitting instructor of the Blue Hens in 1995, his teams have carried the reputation of being aggressive both at the plate and on the bases. This philosophy has helped Delaware produce some of college baseball’s best offensive teams and players in recent years.

During the 2006 season, the Delaware Blue Hens ranked among the NCAA Division I leaders in team scoring, home runs, and slugging percentage. The team clouted a school-record 111 home runs.

In 2013, led by slugging CAA Player of the Year JimmyYezzo, Delaware ranked in the NCAA Division I Top 25 in batting average (.307/15th), runs scored (6.7/24th), doubles (2.2/11th), home runs (0.8/20th), and slugging pct. (.454/12th). Yezzo led the nation in doubles (28) and was third in batting average (.410) on the way to being drafted in the seventh round by Washington.

In 2007, Sherman guided a Blue Hen team that started the season 2-10 to a final overall record of 32-23, including a mark of 18-11 in conference play, good enough for a share of the CAA regular season crown. The Blue Hens advanced to their second CAA championship game in four seasons, where they were defeated by VCU in the longest game in CAA tournament history. For his achievements, Sherman was named the CAA Coach of the Year.

Twenty-four of his hitters and 14 of his pitchers have gone on to play professional baseball. In 1998, former Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays, and Washington Nationals slugger Kevin Mench wasnamed the NCAA College Baseball Player of the Year, hitting .455 with a UD single season record 33 home runs and 72 RBI. Another of his players, outfielder Reid Gorecki, played for most of the second half of the season with the Atlanta Braves in 2009 and pitcher Chad Kuhl made his big league debut as a starting pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2016.

During his time at Delaware as an assistant and head coach, the Blue Hens have had 38 players drafted and five are still active in baseball, including Yezzo (1B/Independent), Nick Ferdinand (OF/Independent), Carlos Alonso (IF/Philadelphia AAA), Chad Kuhl (RHP/Pittsburgh/MLB), and Chad Martin (RHP/New York Yankees A).

Continuing the proud tradition of Delaware baseball, Sherman led his first team in 2001 to another brilliant season. The Blue Hens recorded a record of 45-15, won their fourth straight America East title, and advanced to the NCAA Regionals in Columbus, Ohio, where Delaware defeated host Ohio State, 5-4, in the opener before being eliminated with hard-fought losses to top seed Mississippi State (4-3) and Kent State (12-11).

During Sherman’s second season in 2002, the Blue Hens had their streak of four consecutive league titles and NCAA Tournament appearances snapped, but still enjoyed an outstanding season, posting a record of 35-22 and placing fourth in the Colonial Athletic Association standings with a 12-7 mark. The Hens won their first game of the CAA Tournament before being eliminated with two straight losses. It was Delaware’s first season as a member of the CAA.

After struggling to a 21-32 record and failing to advance to the CAA Tournament in 2003, Sherman’s squad did not stay down for long. The 2004 campaign saw the Blue Hens post a 33-24 overall record and placed sixth in the CAA standings with a mark of 12-11.

But Delaware was the surprise of the CAA Tournament in Wilmington, N.C., knocking off top-seed George Mason and host UNC Wilmington to advance to the finals. Needing just one win on the final day of the tournament to capture the CAA crown and return to the NCAA Tournament, the Hens were upended twice by UNC Wilmington.

The 2005 team battled injuries to finish with a 27-31 overall record and a 13-11 record and fifth place finish in the conference. With three senior starting position players sidelined with injuries for most of the season, Sherman was forced to start three freshman position players.

The 2005 team improved as the season progressed and won four of its final six conference games. The younger players gained experience and showed signs of the things to come for Delaware baseball as three freshmen were named to the CAA All-Rookie Team and one was named a Freshman All-American.

As the top assistant for Delaware from 1995-2000, Sherman helped the Blue Hens post an incredible record of 249-87. During that span, the Hens captured five America East titles and advanced to five NCAA Regional Tournaments. As the top assistant, he served as the Blue Hens recruiting coordinator, hitting instructor, outfield coach, and coached third base during games.

Sherman came to the Delaware Blue Hens as an assistant coach in 1995 after serving seven years as head coach and six years as athletic director at neighboring Wilmington (Del.) University. He was 218-128 in his seven seasons at Wilmington, winning six District titles, two Regional titles, and making two trips to the NAIA World Series. Before leaving Wilmington, he established the baseball program as one of the top NAIA programs in the country. Wilmington now competes at the NCAA Division II level.

From his Wilmington teams, he had three players sign professional baseball contracts. During his time as athletic director, five sports at Wilmington College advanced to the NAIA championship tournament. He was inducted into the inaugural class of the Wilmington University Athletics Hall of Fame in April 2001.

In 1993, 1994 and 1995, Sherman served as an assistant coach at the U.S. Olympic Baseball Trials in Homestead, Fla. At the trials, he coached under legendary college coaches Skip Bertman, RayTanner and Ron Polk. In 1993, he was the head coach of the East team. At the trials, he worked with the outfielders and hitters. He had the opportunity to work closely with former major league outfielders Mark Kotsay, J.D. Drew, and Jacque Jones.

Sherman enjoyed an outstanding career on the field for the Delaware Blue Hens from 1979 through 1982, hitting .347 in his career as an outfielder. He hit .367 with eight home runs and 52 runs batted in as a freshman in 1979; .328 with 13 home runs and 56 RBI as a sophomore in 1980; .316 with 10 home runs and 51 RBI as a junior in 1981; and .378 with 15 home runs and 68 RBI as a senior in 1982.

While playing at Delaware, Sherman led the Hens to three NCAA Regional appearances before being drafted in the 14th round of the 1982 amateur baseball draft by the Houston Astros.

He is one of just four Delaware Blue Hens to earn all-conference honors four times, earning first-team All-East Coast Conference honors from 1979-82. Upon graduation, he held school records for career home runs (46, which stood until 1999) and home runs in a season (15), RBI in a season (68), total bases in a season (209), and total bases in a career (489).

His 489 total bases and 227 RBI still rank No. 2 all-time in UD history while his 46 home runs rank third, 261 hits are fifth, and 15 triples and 59 doubles place him seventh and eighth all-time.

In the summers following both his sophomore and junior seasons, Sherman played outfield in the Cape Cod League for the Chatham A’s. He was named to the Cape Cod All-Star team both seasons and was among the league leaders in average, home runs, and RBI. He was inducted into the league’s Hall of Fame in the Fall of 2012.

Sherman spent five years in the Houston Astros organization as an outfielder and third baseman, reaching the AAA level. He spent one year on the Astros 40-man roster and two years in their major league spring training camp. He was viewed as one of the top power hitting prospects in the Astros organization during the mid-1980’s.

When he was at the AA level playing for the Columbus (Ga.) Astros, he led the league in doubles and finished among the league leaders in both home runs and RBI. He finished his professional career in 1986 with the AAA Tucson Toros.

A former standout on both the football and baseball fields at William Penn High School, Sherman still lives in his native New Castle, Del. He has two sons, Cody and Matthew.

About the author, Bill

Bill Ballew has been involved with collegiate and professional baseball since 1983. He has been the Atlanta correspondent for Baseball America since 1991 and has served as the editorial content manager for Baseball The Magazine for more than five years. He is a member of the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA), National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) and the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).