1963, 1965-1968

Jerry Stephenson was born on October 6, 1943 in Detroit. He grew up in Hermosa Beach, Cal until he was in the seventh grade, at which point the family moved to Anaheim. Little League had just starting in Hermosa Beach as Jerry was growing up and he played on what he thinks was the first Little League team they had. Of course, he played sandlot ball, too just for fun.

A lot of clubs had the scouts run a team during the winter. It wasn’t just a tryout over two or three days, it was a regular team. As one might expect, Jerry excelled in high-school baseball. He had a couple of advantages there, too. Not only did he play ball at Anaheim High School, but Legion ball was very big. The Legion team in Anaheim was almost like a minor-league club. 

About a month before graduation. Red Sox scouting director Neil Mahoney came to check out a workout on a local field in Anaheim, and he came accompanied by Ted Williams, who’d just retired the previous September. This was in the days before the major-league draft. They were there to look over a number of prospects. Quite a number of clubs had offered Jerry a fair amount of money, so Jerry's father Joe, who was a Red Sox scout, told Mahoney about the offers Jerry had.

Jerry flew back to Boston and worked out there for the manager, Mike Higgins. He signed with the Red Sox straight out of high school, in June of 1961, but promised his mother and his father that he would get a college degree. He went to Fullerton Junior College the first four winters he was in pro ball, and after Cal State Fullerton opened up, he enrolled there. It took him 14 winters, but he got his degree. 

He played Connie Mack ball the summer of ’61, and that winter played again in his father’s scout camp. In the spring of 1962, he made his way to spring training in Ocala, Florida, and played Class-B ball for Winston-Salem in the Carolina League and  made the league all-star team.

The 1962 modification of the rule permitted Jerry to be assigned to the minors that year. In 1963, he went to spring training with the Red Sox and made the team out of spring training, but he might have been better served with another full year or two of development in minor-league ball. The year was downhill all the way. He started the game at D. C. Stadium on April 14th and gave up five hits and two runs in 2 1/3 innings. It was his only major-league appearance until 1965. He was with the team for a month, but was then sent down to Seattle. He got sent further down to Reading, from Seattle. 

In 1964, Stephenson was assigned to Seattle again. He pitched very well (6-4, 1.57 ERA) when he hurt his elbow. In 1965, he made the big-league team and stuck with the Red Sox for the full year, but was the last pitcher on the staff. He spent a lot of time on the bench with just 52 innings pitched and a record of 1-5 with a 6.23 ERA. 

In 1966, Jerry opened the season with the Red Sox, got himself 11 starts, then came into four games out of the bullpen. He was 2-5 (5.83 ERA.) and was sent down to the Sox, Toronto Triple-A club. He failed to report because he detoured to southern California. Within a fairly short time, however, he turned up to play for Toronto, but developed a pilonidal cyst and had to have it operated on. That was the end of his ’66 season.

Jerry didn’t really impress Dick Williams in spring training 1967. He started off 1967 playing in Toronto. He pitched well in Toronto, winning eight games with a 2.91 ERA and with four shutouts to his credit. He was called up to Boston in mid-August and pitched well down the stretch, with a 3.86 ERA in 39 2/3 innings of work. 

Stephenson turned 25 September of 1968. He had a 2-8 year (5.64 ERA.) and 1969 wasn’t any better. The Red Sox released him just a week into the season. He then signed on with the Seattle Pilots the very same day. Sal Maglie was the pitching coach, and he knew Jerry well. They called him to Seattle for a two weeks, and then sent him down to Vancouver. 

The Pilots lasted only the one year, becoming the Milwaukee Brewers. Before spring training 1970, he was traded in a Triple-A deal from the Brewers/Pilots to the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. He played for Tommy Lasorda in Spokane in the Pacific Coast League and led the league in both ERA (2.82) and wins (18-5). His work earned him another trip to the big leagues, and he appeared in three September games for L.A., but had a 9.45 ERA, giving up seven earned runs in 6 2/3 innings of work. These were his last three games in major-league baseball.

In 1971, he played at Spokane again, for the full year. The Dodgers moved their franchise from Spokane to Albuquerque and he had a better year there in 1972.  In 1973, he was made a coach with the Albuquerque Dukes, but the team had so many injuries that he was pressed into duty. In 1974, he was asked if he wanted to scout for the Dodgers, and he agreed. He worked as a scout with the Dodgers for more than 20 years, mostly as an advance scout, from 1974 to 1995, working as a major-league scout, covering about 14 or 15 big-league clubs. On March 1st each year, he started working spring training, covering the teams that trained in Arizona.

In October 2009, Jerry Stephenson retired and died of cancer at age 67, on June 6, 2010 at his home in Fullerton Cal.