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The View From Pluto: Who is Indians Co-Owner John Sherman and Why Does He Matter?

The Indians finished spring training in Arizona Tuesday with a 3-1 win over the Diamondbacks and open the season Thursday night vs. Seattle
The Indians finished spring training in Arizona Tuesday with a 3-1 win over the Diamondbacks and open the season Thursday night vs. Seattle

The Cleveland Indians are a two-owner franchise. Even casual fans know the majority owner is Paul Dolan, but what about the minority owner John Sherman? WKSU’s sports commentator Terry Pluto thinks it’s no coincidence that the Indians really started winning after Sherman bought a minority stake in the team in 2016.

So who is John Shermananyway? 

Well, he's the dancing partner that longtime Indians owner Paul Dolan has been looking for. That's according to Terry Pluto, anyway. 

"For a number of years, I would talk to Paul Dolanin spring training and he would tell me, 'I need to bring in a minority investor.' And in fact it almost became a joke between us. 'Did you find this guy yet?' ... It became baseball's version of 'Waiting for Godot.'" 

Pluto said the Dolan family, who's pockets aren't as deep as the owners of the Cavaliers or Browns, didn't just want someone to be able to infuse the Indians franchise with capital, but someone who wouldn't pressure the team into making unwise baseball decisions. 

Pluto recounts a story about how bringing in an additional owner could be hit or miss. 

No fantasy-leaguenephew

Another team's general manager told him his team's owner claimed his nephew had a hot tip on a baseball prospect because the player was doing well in his fantasy baseball league. 

"Oh my goodness I have a fantasy-league nephew and his uncle wanting to run the team?" Pluto said the manager told him. "And so I'm sure the Indians have heard these same stories." 

That's why Cleveland took its time  finding the right person. Someone who could be a partner, like John Sherman, the Kansas City, Missouri-based oil and gas entrepreneur behind two successful startups.

Pluto said Sherman's oil and gas background meant he was willing to take calculated risks, but wouldn't pressure the team in on-the-field decisions. 

"Nobody told me this directly, but the fact that John Sherman has been in a business where you take a little more risk, has probably influenced the Dolans to take a little more risk." 

Pluto points to the 2016 trade for relief pitcher Andrew Miller that helped the team reach that season's World Series. 

He said that trade had Sherman's fingerprints all over it and said the Indians feel they are a stronger team with him in the minority ownership role. 

The potential for another run

Pluto thinks this year's team, which he's patiently watched in spring training, has the makeup of another club that could make a deep postseason run. 

"This is a team that relies on its starting pitching. And the starters that matter were really throwing well and were healthy." 

Pluto thinks the team will win 94 games or more for the third straight season.

"They'll be the most dominant team in their division, the Central Division. But then you're going to run into the Astros, run into the Yankees (in the postseason.) So that'll be the superpowers (colliding)." 

The Indians open the season Thursday night against the Mariners in Seattle.

The home opener is April 6 against the Kansas City Royals, the team that a certain minority owner of the Indians used to hold season tickets to. 

Editor's note:  This story was originally published on March 28, 2018.

Copyright 2021 WKSU. To see more, visit WKSU.

Mark has been a host, reporter and producer at several NPR member stations in Delaware, Alaska, Washington and Kansas. His reporting has taken him everywhere from remote islands in the Bering Sea to the tops of skyscrapers overlooking Puget Sound. He is a diehard college basketball fan who enjoys taking walks with his dog, Otis.