Norm Sherry and “Sabbathmetrics”

Sunday night marks the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, the “Jewish New Year”.  That means its time for another Sabbathmetrics post, in which we look at whether certain Jewish players performed better on worse on the Sabbath.  Normally we focus on position players. This time, we turn our attention the short managerial career of Norm Sherry.

He is best known as the man who, while still an active player as the second-string catcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, helped pitcher and fellow “member of the tribe” Sandy Koufax harness his talent and transform himself from a wild “thrower” into a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. As the story goes, prior to the start of the 1961 season, Sherry suggested Koufax take a little off his fastball and curveball. There’d still be enough left to blow it past or deceive batters, said Sherry, only maybe now he’d have better control. Guess it worked!

As a second-string catcher, Sherry compiled a .215/.279/.346 line in 546 plate appearance from 1959 through 1963, good for a 69 OPS+. He *did* throw out 38% of attempted base-stealers during his career.

In 1965, Sherry began his managerial career in the Dodger organization, and switched to the California Angels system in 1969.

The big league Angels were 18 games under the .500 mark on July 23, 1976 when manager Dick Williams was given his walking papers. Sherry, was named as Williams’ replacement, and in his first pro manager role, finished the season with a 37–29 record. That winter, the Angels signed free agents Bobby Grich and Joe Rudi and expected to contend in the American League West in 1977. However, the team struggled and was only 39–42 and in 5th place on July 11 when Sherry was relieved of his duties. The firing marked the end of his major league managing career, with a career ledger of 76 wins and 71 defeats (.517). So, did Sherry’s Angels perform better on the Sabbath?

As you can see below, Sherry piloted the team to the same .517 winning percentage regardless of whether or not the games occurred on the Sabbath. However, the Angels “pythagorean winning percentage” (a measure of what their record *should* have been based on runs scored and allowed), shows that Sherry scratched out two more wins on the Sabbath (15 actual versus 13 pythagorean). On the flip side, the Angels under-performed by three games (61 actual versus 64 pythagorean) in non-Sabbath games.


WINS 15 61 76
LOSSES 14 57 71
WIN % .5172 .5169 .5170
RUNS SCORED 91 491 582
RUNS ALLOWED 103 449 552
PYTHAG WINS 13 64 77
PYTHAG WIN % .4483 .5424 .5238

Prior entries in the “Sabbathmetric” series:

Kevin Youkilis
Steve Stone
Mike Lieberthal
Ron Blomberg
Shawn Green
Al Rosen
Ian Kinsler
Sandy Koufax

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