The California Angels, staggering after five straight losses and three games under .500, fired manager Norm Sherry today and named third base coach Dave Garcia to replace him.
Sherry, 45, was dismissed after the Angels returned from a five-game toad trip with a disappointing 39-42 record, 9 games behind the Chicago record, 9 1/2 games behind the Chicago White Sox in the American League West.
The Angels, preseason favorites in the Al West after owner Gene Autry spent $5.2 million to bring in free agents Don Baylor, Bobby Grich and Joe Rudi, lost, 4-2, at Texas Sunday night.
The Angels also hired Frank Robinson, fired last months as manager of the Cleveland Indians, as batting coach.
Pitching coach Billie Muffett also was fired. Former catcher Andy Etchebarren took over in the pitching department at least temporarily, club officials said. Del Crandall will move from the first base coaching spot to third, and Bob Clear will coach first.
Sherry was fired almost one season after he replaced Dick Williams and became the Angel's sixth manager.
Garcia, 56, was given a contract through 1978.
"We feel the team is definitely a contending club," said general manager Harry Dalton, "and has the capability to move into the middle of the pennant race in the second half of the season.
"And we felt that these changes would help us accomplish this."
Garcia served as a coach under Robinson in Cleveland in 1975-76 after managing in the Angels' farm system at El Paso. In 1974 El Paso won a Texas League divisional pennant.
"Harry Dalton called me this morning and offered me the job," said Garcia. "Of the 26 major league positions, this is the one I most wanted to have."
"I couldn't give you the answer," said Garcia when asked how he planned to try to turn around the Angels."If I knew. I would have suggested it earlier," continued Garcia. "I hope I will be able to find out. I'm looking forward to trying. We've got the players here. It's just been a combination of things.
"It's a tough thing (Sherry's firing). I really feel for him. A guy who gets a job he really wants . . . but that's the way baseball is. Someone always wants your job. I hate to see it. I'm very fond of Nixon Sherry."
Sherry was hired July 23, 1976, after Williams was dismissed following a player revolt led by Bill Melton. He guided the Angels to a 37-29 record to conclude the season.
Sherry said at Arlington. Tex., Sunday that he was "damn disappointed" with his club's first-half results.
In an effort to get the Angels going in the right direction last month, he named second baseman Jerry Remy as the second team captain in the Angels' 17-year history. Robinson was the first.