NEWARK — The Delaware baseball program is steeped in tradition as much as any Blue Hens’ athletic team.
Delaware has had just two baseball head coaches since 1965 — Bob Hannah and then one of his former standout players, Jim Sherman.
So it was pretty big news when the university announced on Saturday that Sherman is stepping down as coach after the upcoming season. Sherman has been the Hens’ head coach for the past 21 years, compiling a record 581-506.
The 62-year-old took Delaware to the NCAA Division I tournament twice, in 2001 and ’17.
Delaware opens the season on Feb. 18 in Florida.
“It’s been an honor and a privilege to serve on the Delaware baseball coaching staff for the last 28 years,” Sherman said in a press release. “I will cherish all of the memories I’ve made here as a player, assistant coach and head coach. There are so many people to thank including Bob Hannah, all of my assistant coaches, especially long-time assistant Dan Hammer, our administration, all of my current and former players, and my family.
“Although I am stepping away from baseball at the end of the spring, I will still be around as I plan to continue working in the UD Athletics Department.”
Athletic director Chrissi Rawak thanked Sherman for his career.
“It is difficult for me to put into words what Coach Sherman has meant to Delaware and Delaware baseball,” she said. “Since day one, it was clear how much he cared about this program and our student-athlete’s experience and that has never wavered.”
Entering his 28th season overall, Sherman is No. 22 on the active all-time wins list in Division I baseball and will finish second all-time in the Blue Hen record book for career wins.
Over the last two full seasons — not counting the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign — the Hens have gone a combined 33-55 overall with a 17-31 mark in the CAA. Those were the only fifth and sixth losing seasons during Sherman’s tenure.
Sherman, though, said the decision to retire was his.
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, Sherman was hired in 2000 as the 15th head coach in UD history and just the third since 1956.
Sherman won his 700th career game as a collegiate head coach in Delaware’s CAA Tournament victory over UNCW.
His 28-year overall head coaching record, which includes a seven-year stint at Wilmington University from 1987 to 94, stands at a 799-634 (.558).
During Sherman’s first season, the Blue Hens tied the school record of 45 victories, won the America East championship, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
Sherman has led Delaware to 12 conference tournament appearances, four championship game appearances, and a conference title and NCAA Tournament berth in 2001 and 2017. With CAA runner-up finishes in 2004, 2007, and 2012, Sherman’s Delaware teams have posted 30 or more wins eight times, including 13 winning seasons.
He won the CAA Coach of the Year honor in 2007.
“He will be missed among his colleagues and the hundreds of players he guided to success in the game,” said Hannah. “I thank him for the dedication and consistency he brought to our program.”
Twenty-six of his hitters and 15 of his pitchers have gone on to play professional baseball. During his time at Delaware as an assistant and head coach, the Blue Hens have had 39 players drafted.
As a player (1979-82), Sherman just one of four players in UD history to earn all-conference honors four times. He hit .347 for his career as an outfielder.
Sherman helped lead the Blue Hens to three NCAA Regional appearances. 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 the UD career record book.
Sherman was drafted in the 14th round of the 1982 amateur baseball draft by the Houston Astros. Sherman spent five years in the 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.