Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Back on Topps' Radar: Jerry Stephenson

Jerry Stephenson (#519) appeared on baseball cards in 1965 and 1966, but not in 1967. He returns to the Topps card set in 1968.

Stephenson was signed by the Red Sox in 1961, and pitched 3 years (1962-64) as a starter in the minors before making the Red Sox team in 1965. Jerry remained on the team for the entire season, starting and relieving a total of 15 games.

In 1966, he started 11 of his 15 games (as one of 6 pitchers used in the back of the rotation behind Jim Lonborg, Jose Santiago, and Earl Wilson). Jerry also spent some time with triple-A Toronto.

Stephenson spent most of 1967 with Toronto, but also appeared in 8 games for Boston during the regular season, as well as pitching in the World Series. 1968 was not only his last year with Boston, but would also be his last full season in the majors. He was used mainly in long relief (23 games, 68 innings).

Stephenson was released by the Red Sox on April 17, 1969, and signed by the expansion Seattle Pilots on the same day. Appearing in only 2 games for the Pilots, he spent most of the season with their AAA club in Vancouver.

Jerry was traded to the Dodgers prior to the 1970 season, but only played 3 games for Los Angeles. He was a starter for the Dodgers' AAA teams (Spokane, then Albuquerque) from 1970 to 1972, before becoming their closer in 1973, his final season in baseball.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Back on Topps' Radar: Gary Kolb

Gary Kolb (#407) was primarily an outfielder, but also caught a dozen or so games (mostly late in his career). He first appeared on a Topps baseball card in 1964. After his 1965 card, he disappeared for 2 seasons before returning to the 1968 set, with his final card coming in 1969.

Kolb was signed by the Cardinals in 1960, and played 3 1/2 seasons in their farm system (with brief call-ups in 1960 and 1962). In 1963, he logged considerable time with the Cardinals as a backup corner outfielder.

In early April 1964, Gary was traded to the Milwaukee Braves for catcher Bob Uecker. This was a bad break for Kolb, because not only did he get less playing time for the '64 Braves than he had with the '63 Cardinals, but the Cardinals went on to win the World Series in 1964!

1965 was Gary's first full season in the majors, but after playing sparingly for the Braves, he was traded to the Mets in July for catcher Jesse Gonder. His playing time increased with the Mets for the remainder of the season, but the Mets kept him in the minors for all of 1966.

After the 1966 season, Gary was sent to the Pirates in the Dennis Ribant for Don Cardwell trade, but played exclusively in triple-A in 1967. He would then play the entire '68 and '69 seasons in the majors.

1968 was Kolb's best season since 1963, as he appeared in 74 games for the Pirates, and played every position except pitcher, 1st base, and shortstop. With the addition of outfielder Ron Davis and the emergence of fellow catcher/outfielder Carl Taylor in 1969, Kolb had a reduced role. His last game was on September 1, 1969.

Kolb played for the Pirates' triple-A team for the 1970-73 seasons before retiring.