A friend sent me an early birthday present. It’s a custom mug made from a hollowed-out baseball bat and engraved, “Michael L Johnston #1 fan of John Sherman ‘Sherm’ Lollar, Jr.” It also has the Sox logo on the barrel. It’s made by Dugout Mugs, a division of the Thompson Mug Company. I don’t know if I’m Sherm’s biggest fan, especially since he still has family, but I continue to recognize his achievements when most people have forgotten.
I have a substantial collection of his memorabilia, including a 1955 game-worn jersey, catcher’s mask, cups, glassware, pins, postcards, ball, newspaper clippings, press photos, autographs, and baseball cards. Until somebody proves me wrong, I will continue to boast of the largest collection in the world. The new mug and “Sherm Freakin’ Lollar” t-shirt that I occasionally wear make my collection unique. I’ve also written a letter to the Hall of Fame committee on his behalf.
August 23rd would have been Sherm’s 96th birthday. He died at age 53. Sherm Lollar was behind the plate for 18 seasons with four different teams – Indians, Yankees, Browns, and White Sox. He was a member of the “Go-Go Sox” who played in the 1959 World Series. I became a fan as a young boy of eight, watching him hit a home run against the Dodgers on black & white TV. His number 10 became my lucky number. When I joined a baseball card club here in Portland about 5-years ago, the other members asked me what I wanted to collect. I said I would start by getting any items associated with Sherm Lollar. At least, it was an affordable hobby, unlike the pricey Mickey Mantle cards. I’m now known in those circles as the “Sherm Guy.” (See Post #1328).
Sherm was apparently a quiet, humble man. We shared big ears and little else. I never got to meet him, but saw him play many times in Chicago throughout the years. He always seemed to be upstaged by Berra from the minute that Yogi replaced him in the Yankee’s starting line-up back in 194 7. His on-base percentage was actually better than Yogi’s, and he was a much better defensive back-stop, but cavernous Comiskey Park where Lollar spent most of his career was not designed with hitters in mind, unlike the Yankee right field porch that favored the lefty Berra. Sherm earned 7 All-Star selections and was the first catcher to receive a Golden Glove. His lifetime .9921 fielding percentage is ranked 60th all-time for catchers, but he played more games with a primitive equipment handicap than anyone else on the list. I have some of that gear in my collection and it amazes me that he could maintain that level of play with little padding, a smaller mitt, and bulky, heavy body protection.
Sherm Lollar’s playing career ended with a fractured thumb in 1963. I have a ticket stub from that game on September 7th. He went on to coach for the World Champion Baltimore Orioles and Oakland Athletics, plus managed the Iowa Oaks and Tucson Toro’s before retirement. He earned two World Series rings in the process. I maintain a scrapbook of his career, along with other White Sox greats. Lollar is buried in Rivermonte Memorial Gardens in Springfield, Missouri. Happy Birthday – Sherm!