Larry Sherry dies after long battle with cancer

Updated: December 18, 2006, 8:01 PM ET
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Larry Sherry, MVP of the 1959 World Series as a reliever for the Los Angeles Dodgers, has died after a long battle with cancer. He was 71.

Sherry died early Sunday at his home in Mission Viejo, according to his brother, Norm, a former catcher who also played for the Dodgers.

Larry Sherry
AP PhotoDodgers pitcher Larry Sherry, left, and center fielder Duke Snider celebrate L.A.'s 1959 World Series win over the Chicago White Sox.

Sherry's two children and several other family members spent Saturday at his home.

"We were all there that day -- my brother, George; nieces and nephews, his son and daughter," Norm Sherry said Monday from his home in San Diego. "He had a caregiver there, and died shortly after his daughter left."

Sherry was 2-0 with two saves and an 0.71 ERA to lead the Dodgers past the Chicago White Sox in six games to win the World Series in their second year in Los Angeles. He was the winning pitcher in the fourth and sixth games.

"Larry Sherry was a local product who became a household name in Los Angeles with his World Series heroics in 1959," the Dodgers said in a statement. "He will always be associated with the Dodgers' first championship in Los Angeles, and our deepest sympathies go out to his brother, Norm, and the entire Sherry family."

Sherry had a 53-44 lifetime record with a 3.67 ERA in 400 relief appearances and 16 starts. He pitched for the Dodgers from 1958-63, and later played for the Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros and California Angels before retiring in 1968 after appearing in three games with the Angels. He had a career-high 20 saves for the Tigers in 1966.

Sherry, born July 25, 1935, in Los Angeles, was the youngest of four brothers. He lived in Mission Viejo for the past 36 years.

"He had a tough childhood," Norm Sherry recalled. "He was born clubfooted, doctors had to break his legs and reset them. He wore casts on both legs for the first year of his life. After that, he had to wear special shoes."

Following retirement, Sherry served as the pitching coach for the Angels and Pittsburgh Pirates and managed in the White Sox organization. Norm Sherry said his brother gave pitching lessons before becoming ill about 12 years ago.

"He was a tough competitor. He was all business when he put that uniform on," Norm Sherry said. "He had a way about him when he came in from the bullpen, he was a mean pitcher, he didn't give any ground to anybody.

"We had Don Drysdale, Stan Williams, Larry, Roger Craig, Ed Roebuck -- all guys who if they didn't like the way you looked at them, they'd pitch you inside, good inside."

Norm Sherry, four years older than Larry, said his biggest thrill in baseball came in 1960, when he hit his first major league home run -- a game-winner for the Dodgers against Philadelphia in the bottom of the 11th inning. What helped to make it so special was that Larry was the winning pitcher.

"We used to play in the alley way, high school, minor league ball one year," Norm said. "I was very proud to watch him become such a good pitcher. His World Series performance was really something. For me being the older brother, I was popping my buttons."

Norm Sherry played five years in the majors, and later served as a coach and manager with the Angels and a coach with Montreal, San Diego and San Francisco.

Sherry's wife, Sally, died three years ago. He is survived by a son, Scott, a daughter, Susie, five grandchildren and his three brothers.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press