Don Sherman set to retire as HNHS coach
I don’t think the group had an official name, but they were a unique club. They all coached high school baseball in Indiana and were certainly cut from the same cloth.
In other sports there would occasionally be a colorful character who gave you terrific quotes from time to time. But none of them matched these baseball coaches, and I was lucky enough to get to talk with Huntington North’s Don Sherman every spring.
Sherman’s club included Chris Rood of Wabash, Bill Nixon of Plymouth, Ken Schreiber of LaPorte, Chris Stavretti of Fort Wayne Northrop, Bill Jones of DeKalb, among others.
These were the ones who mowed their owns fields, groomed the infields and put down the white lines. They were old school baseball — quick with a quote or story or analogy on life and baseball. They started the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association.
And they were also very good at what they did, the winningest coaches in state history.
Don Sherman never failed to give me a quote to build a story around. Win or lose, he would break it down in his own unique way.
When he announced he was retiring, I knew it was going to be a major project. There were all the numbers, of course — 23 seasons of coaching at Huntington North, 38 years coaching overall, with more than 600 wins. Sectional championships. Conference championships. Indiana All-Stars, including all three of his sons. An appearance in the state championship game in 1993, when Huntington North lost to Evansville Memorial by a slim, 1-0 score.
But I was looking for something more. I wanted to dig deeper into the coach and the man, to go beyond the numbers.
Sherman and I sat down and talked for a couple hours. I recorded the interview, and it was a major project just going through all that we had talked about to find the best quotes.
Once again, I wanted my subject to tell the story. His own words, and those of the others I interviewed were the bricks. All I had to do was to fill in the mortar to hold it together.
One of Sherman’s analogies gave me the perfect framework. He compared the way he tended his baseball diamond to the way he ran his baseball program. It was a long story, certainly comprehensive, but was a fitting tribute to what he had built, and for the legacy he was leaving.