Our lasting image of Mike Sharper-son came from his first and only All-Star Game appearance, in 1992 at San Diego's Jack Murphy Stadium. Sharperson, who hit 10 home runs in eight major league seasons, sat in the National League clubhouse and gleefully told of the time he won a minor league home run-hitting contest, beating a star-studded lineup that included Cecil Fielder. "How come I'm not in this one?" he said, referring to the All-Star home run-hitting contest that was scheduled for later that day. Surrounded by sluggers, he laughed and said, "I'd beat all of these guys."
That was Sharperson, always laughing—and always playing the game with a zest that was as evident as his smile. Early Sunday, Sharperson, 34, lost control of his car and crashed on a rain-slickened Las Vegas highway. Sharperson, who was not wearing a seat belt, was ejected through the sun roof. He died about two hours later.
Later that day Sharperson, an infielder for the Padres' Triple A affiliate in Las Vegas, was to have boarded a flight to Montreal to join the parent team. San Diego officials said there was no guarantee that Sharperson would have been promoted once he arrived in Montreal, but the Padres wanted him around in case they decided to put Gold Glove third baseman Ken Caminiti on the disabled list. Caminiti had been sidelined since May 21 with a groin injury.
Sharperson played for three major league teams: the Blue Jays in 1987, the Dodgers from '88 to '93 and the Braves last year. He had a career .280 average.
With lefthander Jim Abbott struggling and lefthander Mark Langston out for at least another four weeks with a knee injury, the Angels are desperately searching for pitching to go with their one reliable starter, Chuck Finley. They asked the Brewers about Ricky Bones, but Milwaukee didn't want to make a trade. They're also considering attempting to make deals for Kevin Appier of the Royals, Pat Hentgen of the Blue Jays, Darryl Kile of the Astros or Scott Sanders or Tim Worrell of the Padres.
At 28, Abbott isn't close to being the pitcher he used to be. "He's done," one American League scout says. At week's end Abbott was 1-7 with a 6.39 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 62 innings. His strikeout total has decreased in each of the last four years, often the sign of a pitcher who is losing his stuff. The same scout recently clocked Abbott's fastball at 80 mph, which is roughly 10 mph slower than it was a few seasons ago. All Abbott seems to throw are cut fastballs. He no longer has that biting curveball or a pitch that can bore in on a lefthanded hitter.
Bad Pitching Note of the Week: Through Sunday an American League team had scored 10 or more runs in a game 91 times this season. In 42 of those games the starting pitcher for the team that scored in double figures hadn't gotten the win. Seven times a team had scored at least 10 runs and lost.