I always liked this action shot of Bill Sharp. I liked it even more a couple years later when I realized it was a dead ringer for one of my favorite all-time cards, Fred Lynn’s ’76 card. This is Bill’s rookie card and his swing looks great as Jerry Hairston watches on deck in Chicago. Bill had been in town more-or-less since May when he was called up to help fill in after Ken Henderson got hurt. Bill would get starting time when Henderson was down and did the expected good defensive work in center field. By the end of August he was hitting .224. But the rest of the way he hit about .380 and got everyone excited and helped pull Chicago back above .500 the first week of September. Then he was about the only offensive performer the rest of the way as they finished the year 5-14. It was a nice way to end his first season and most of those fans look pretty happy with the result of this swing, an apparent liner to right. It also looks good on a rookie card.
Bill Sharp grew up in Lima, Ohio where he starred in three sports: as a guard in hoops; an outfielder in baseball; and an all-state quarterback. After graduating in ’68 he got a full ride to Ohio State in that last sport and got to play under Woody Hayes. He was a QB his freshman year but broke a rib in an inter-squad game and didn’t see too much action. His sophomore year he moved to punter and safety and made some noise at both positions but thereafter decided to concentrate on baseball. That he did, and his junior year of ’71 he was all Big Ten and third team All-American after hitting .345. That year he was drafted by the Sox in the second round and got things going that summer in Double A where his average was light but he did nice work in center. In ’72 he pulled his military hitch – he said basic training was a lot easier than playing under Woody – and started the season super late but did push his average up 60 points at the same level. In ’73 he was playing in Triple A and putting up comparable numbers when he was called up in the wake of Henderson’s injury and the sale of Rich Morales to San Diego.
After the big finish in ’73 Sharp spent ’74 toggling between Triple A Iowa, where he hit .333, and Chicago, where he played primarily in right since Henderson was healthy that year. While splitting time in that position with Pat Kelly Bill hit .253 with 24 RBI’s in 320 at bats. After kicking off ’75 in the same role, he was traded to the Brewers for outfielder Bob Collucio in early May and spent the rest of the season swapping starts in center field with Gorman Thomas. Bill hit .255 the rest of the way with 34 RBI’s. In ’76 the Brewers split center between Thomas and new guy Von Joshua and Bill got moved to right to back up Sixto Lezcano. Between his new role and a knee injury his at bats tailed off to just over half of his ’75 total and at the end of spring training of ’77 he was opted to Triple A Spokane. But he re-injured his knee early in the season after hitting .211 in a couple games and retired by the end of the year. He finished up top with a .255 average and in the minors hit .277.
And that’s pretty much it for Mr. Sharp. He apparently returned to Ohio State to finish his degree and also did some work in community relations for Interlake Steel in his off-seasons while playing. In 2009 his number in high school was retired by his school but outside of that tidbit there is precious little out there on Bill. It appears he shows up for golf tournaments and old-timers days so he is alive and well. But nothing more specific than that.
Topps gives us about the longest star bullet regarding a single play I have seen in this set. Bill hit .366 in September for the Sox. Below I show the ’76 Lynn card; the hands are a bit lower but you can see what I mean.
Sharp and Hegan played together but he and Thomas didn’t. But let’s try this:
1. Sharp and Von Joshua ’76 Brewers;
2. Joshua and Derrel Thomas ’75 to ’76 Giants.eHHeHYeHJh