Darrell Sherman had no doubt in 1989 that he eventually would make the majors. It was just that scouts didn't think the same.
Sherman was quick. But he was also small, as in 5 feet 7 inches small.
"I was pretty disappointed, because everything (not being drafted) was based on my height," Sherman told The Spokane Spokesman-Review in August 1989. "(Scouts) didn't think I was a prospect."
But it took one scout to notice and see the potential, convincing the Padres to use their sixth round pick in the 1989 draft on the not-so-tall outfielder from Cerritos Junior College in California.
Sherman repaid that faith by challenging for the short-season Northwest League's stolen base record his first year and making the majors for 37 games in his fifth.
Sherman was certainly speedy. For Cerritos College, Sherman swiped 46 bases. That first year with Spokane, Sherman stole 58. At single-A Riverside in 1990, Sherman took 74, earning league All-Star honors. He even got a brief look at AAA Las Vegas.
He played 1991 at AA Wichita, hitting .295, stealing another 43 bases for the Wranglers. He also got tossed from a game that year for tossing a bat onto the field, prompting an ill-fated promotion the next night, according to The Los Angeles Times.
But it was enough for the Padres to leave him unprotected in the minor league draft, giving the Orioles the opportunity to pick him up.
Baltimore eyed Sherman as their new lead-off hitter. But Sherman didn't show the Orioles what they wanted to see.
"I don't think we've seen Darrell Sherman at his best," Baltimore manager John Oates told The Baltimore Sun as spring training days dwindled. "The way he has swung the bat here, there is no way he hit .300 at Double-A last year. We would like to see the real Darrell Sherman, but the problem is, there are only two weeks left of spring training."
The Orioles soon offered Sherman back to San Diego and San Diego took Sherman back, sending him back minors, splitting the year between Wichita and AAA Las Vegas. But, after that year, they did promote Sherman to their 40-man roster. In 1993, he reached new heights.
That next spring, Sherman was with the Padres, getting advice from future Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn.
"Sherm's been drifting in the batter's box for about two years now," Gwynn said within earshot of Sherman that spring, according to Baseball Digest. Gwynn meant two weeks. "When he takes his stride, he's got to keep his weight back. We got the camera out, filmed him. He's getting better, but we just have to keep talking about it. Keep workin'."
Sherman made the Padres out of the gate that year, getting a lead-off double in the sixth inning of an April 8 game and scoring and getting a sacrifice fly in a 2-1 San Diego win May 7. He also stole just two bases, and hit just .222.
It was back to the minors by late May after 37 games. Those would be the only 37 games Sherman would see in the bigs.
Sherman played 1994 with the Rockies' AAA team at Colorado Springs, 1995 with the Mariners at AAA Tacoma and his time in affiliated ball was done. He went on to multiple seasons in Mexico, his last in 2006, finally ending his playing career.
Sherman made his coaching debut in 2008 with the Padres back in the Northwest League, as hitting coach for Eugene.
- Spokane Spokesman-Review, Aug. 6, 1989: Short Indian reaches new heights, Part 2
- Baltimore Sun, March 25, 1992: Bad habit is bad news for Sherman
- Baseball Digest, September 1993: Baseball's Shop Talk Begins Around the Batting Cage