Vern Stephens

Vernon Decatur Stephens (October 23, 1920 – November 3, 1968) was an American shortstop in professional baseball who played 15 seasons in the American League for four teams. He was born in McAlister, New Mexico while his parents were en route from Oklahoma to California. Stephens batted and threw right-handed. He was also nicknamed "Little Slug", "Junior", and "Buster". Ted Williams credited him with being the most effective of those who followed him in the Red Sox batting order. During his stint with the Red Sox he outshone Bobby Doerr, a Hall-of-famer, who followed him in the Sox batting order. In 1949 he hit 39 home runs, second only to Williams that year in the American League, while batting in 159 runs tying Williams for the league lead. The next closest American Leaguers hit 24 home runs that year while Doerr hit 18. In his book "Summer of '49" author David Halberstam seems to go great lengths to belittle Stephens' 1949 performance while exalting that of Doerr which was patently unfair.

Vern Stephens
Vern Stephens
Born: October 23, 1920
McAlister, New Mexico
Died: November 3, 1968 (aged 48)
Long Beach, California
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 13, 1941, for the St. Louis Browns
Last MLB appearance
June 30, 1955, for the Chicago White Sox
MLB statistics
Batting average.286
Home runs247
Runs batted in1,174
Career highlights and awards


One of the strongest-hitting shortstops in major league history, Stephens compiled a .286 batting average with 247 home runs and 1174 RBI in 1720 games. Breaking with American Major League baseball, Stephens signed a five-year contract with the Mexican League in 1946. He had been in Mexico only a few days when his father, a minor league umpire, and the Browns scout Jack Fournier drove down and brought him back to the United States.

In August 2008, he was named as one of the ten former players who began their careers before 1943 to be considered by the Veterans Committee for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in 2009. He was not selected. Doerr was a member of the selection committee.


Vern Stephens died of a heart attack in Long Beach, California at 48 years of age.


  • 8-time All-Star (1943–44, 1945 [non-official game], 1946, 1948–51)
  • Six times in the Top 10 in MVP voting (1942–45, 1948–49)
  • Led the American League in home runs during 1945
  • Three times led the American League in RBI (1944, 1949–50)
  • Collected 440 RBI within three consecutive seasons (1948–50)
  • Three times in the Top 10 in batting average (1942–43, 1946)
  • Twice led the American League in games played (1948–49)
  • Was inducted into the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2006
  • Only man to play for 1944 American League Champion St. Louis Browns and the Baltimore Orioles, the team the Browns franchise became after it moved to Baltimore in 1954
  • Holds the MLB record for RBI in a season by a shortstop, with 159 in 1949.
  • Attended Polytechnic High School, Long Beach, California (also attended by Tony Gwynn, Chase Utley, Milton Bradley, etc.)

See also

External links

1943 St. Louis Browns season

The 1943 St. Louis Browns season involved the Browns finishing 6th in the American League with a record of 72 wins and 80 losses.

1944 St. Louis Browns season

The 1944 St. Louis Browns season was a season in American baseball. It involved the Browns finishing first in the American League with a record of 89 wins and 65 losses. In the World Series, they lost to the team they shared a stadium with, the Cardinals, four games to two.

1945 St. Louis Browns season

The 1945 St. Louis Browns season involved the Browns finishing 3rd in the American League with a record of 81 wins and 70 losses.

1947 St. Louis Browns season

The 1947 St. Louis Browns season involved the Browns finishing 8th in the American League with a record of 59 wins and 95 losses.

1948 Boston Red Sox season

The 1948 Boston Red Sox season was the 48th season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished second in the American League (AL) with a record of 96 wins and 59 losses, including the loss of a one-game playoff to the Cleveland Indians after both teams had finished the regular schedule with identical 96–58 records. The first Red Sox season to be broadcast on television, broadcasts were then alternated between WBZ-TV and WNAC-TV but with the same broadcast team regardless of broadcasting station.

1949 Boston Red Sox season

The 1949 Boston Red Sox season was the 49th season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished second in the American League (AL) with a record of 96 wins and 58 losses. The Red Sox set a major league record which still stands for the most base on balls by a team in a season, with 835.

1950 Boston Red Sox season

The 1950 Boston Red Sox season was the 50th season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished third in the American League (AL) with a record of 94 wins and 60 losses, four games behind the AL and World Series champion New York Yankees. The team scored 1,027 runs, one of only six teams to score more than 1,000 runs in a season in the modern era (post-1900), and, along with the 1999 Cleveland Indians, are one of two teams to do so post-World War II. This was the last time that the Red Sox would win at least 90 games until their return to the World Series in 1967. The 1950 Red Sox compiled a .302 batting average, and are the last major league team to record a .300 team batting average.

1951 Boston Red Sox season

The 1951 Boston Red Sox season was the 51st season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished third in the American League (AL) with a record of 87 wins and 67 losses.

1953 Chicago White Sox season

The 1953 Chicago White Sox season was the team's 53rd season in the major leagues, and its 54th season overall. They finished with a record 89–65, good enough for third place in the American League, 11.5 games behind the first place New York Yankees.

1954 Baltimore Orioles season

The 1954 Baltimore Orioles season was the franchise's 54th season (it was founded as the Milwaukee Brewers in 1901, then played as the St. Louis Browns from 1902–53) but its first season as the Baltimore Orioles. The season involved the Orioles finishing 7th in the American League with a record of 54 wins and 100 losses, 57 games behind the AL champion Cleveland Indians in their first season in Baltimore. The team was managed by Jimmy Dykes, and played its home games at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium.

1955 Chicago White Sox season

The 1955 Chicago White Sox season was the team's 55th season in the major leagues, and its 56th season overall. They finished with a record 91–63, good enough for third place in the American League, 5 games behind the first place New York Yankees.

Al Widmar

Albert Joseph Widmar (March 20, 1925 – October 15, 2005) was an American starting pitcher and a pitching coach in Major League Baseball.

Between 1945 and 1952, Widmar played for the Boston Red Sox (1947), St. Louis Browns (1948, 1950–51) and Chicago White Sox (1952). He batted and threw right-handed. As a coach, Widmar worked with the Philadelphia Phillies, Milwaukee Brewers and Toronto Blue Jays. He was born in Cleveland, Ohio.

In a five-season career, Widmar posted a 13–30 record with 143 strikeouts and a 5.21 ERA in 388.1 innings pitched.

Widmar played part of two Major League seasons as a reliever with the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Browns. He debuted with the Red Sox in 1947, and was sent to St. Louis before the 1948 season in the same trade that brought Vern Stephens to Boston. After an unspectacular year with the Browns, he was demoted to Baltimore, St. Louis' Triple-A affiliate team.

In 1949, Widmar won 22 games in the International League. A year later, he returned to the Browns as a starter. After going 11–24 in two seasons, he was sent along with Sherm Lollar to the Chicago White Sox for Dick Littlefield, Joe DeMaestri, Gus Niarhos and Jim Rivera. He finished the 1952 season with the Seattle Rainiers in the Pacific Coast League, and remained with the team through half of the 1955 season. At that point, Widmar donned a Tulsa Oilers uniform, and remained with the team as player/manager through 1958.Following his playing career, Widmar became a successful minor league manager for more than a decade. He also was the pitching coach for the Philadelphia Phillies and Milwaukee Brewers, and later became a front office official for Milwaukee.

In 1979, Widmar became the pitching coach of the Toronto Blue Jays; he kept the job for the next ten seasons. In 1985, he guided a rotation that featured Dave Stieb, Doyle Alexander, Jim Clancy and Jimmy Key as the Blue Jays won their first AL East Division title. He was promoted to special assistant to the vice president and general manager in 1991.

Widmar died of colon cancer in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at age 80.

Bryan Stephens

Bryan Maris Stephens (July 14, 1920 – November 21, 1991) was an American professional baseball player. The native of Fayetteville, Arkansas, a right-handed pitcher, appeared in 74 Major League games — 31 for the 1947 Cleveland Indians and 43 for the 1948 St. Louis Browns. He stood 6 feet 4 inches (1.93 m) tall and weighed 175 pounds (79 kg).

Stephens attended Washington High School in Los Angeles County, California, and signed with the Detroit Tigers in 1939. The following season he was acquired by the Indians and spent 1940–1942 in their farm system, winning 20 of 24 decisions in 1942 for the Class B Cedar Rapids Raiders of the Illinois–Indiana–Iowa League. He then missed the 1943–1945 seasons while serving in the United States Army during World War II. After one more year of minor league seasoning in 1946, Stephens made the 1947 Indians' roster.

In his first Major League appearance, as a starting pitcher on May 15 against the Washington Senators at Griffith Stadium, Stephens scattered eight hits, all singles, in a complete game, 9–1 triumph over eventual Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Early Wynn. Sent to the bullpen by manager Lou Boudreau, Stephens then went over a month before his next starting assignment — again at Washington and against Wynn. This time, on June 19, Stephens took the loss, 3–2, and left for a pinch hitter after the fifth inning. Altogether, he made five starts for Cleveland was used exclusively as a relief pitcher after July 15. He fashioned a 5–10 win–loss mark and a 4.01 earned run average, with one save, in 92 innings pitched for the Indians.

Traded to the Browns during the offseason, Stephens worked out of the bullpen early in the 1948 season before making six successive starts during June; however, he lost his first four decisions before throwing another complete game, a 9–6 win over the Boston Red Sox at Sportsman's Park, winning the game himself by driving in three runs with an eighth-inning double off Mel Parnell. (Bryan Stephens was one of three players with a similar surname who played in that game, including Boston's Vern Stephens and the Browns' first baseman, Chuck Stevens.) But Bryan Stephens' year with the Browns had few bright spots: he collected three saves and posted three wins, against six losses, with a poor 6.02 earned run average in 122⅔ innings pitched. He spent the next two seasons, his last as a professional, in the minors.

All told, Stephens allowed 220 hits and 106 bases on balls in 214⅔ Major League innings pitched, with 69 strikeouts.

Harley Grossman

Harley Joseph Grossman (May 5, 1930 – September 5, 2003) was an American professional baseball player whose career lasted for five seasons (1949–1953) and who appeared in one Major League game as a relief pitcher for the 1952 Washington Senators. A native of Evansville, Indiana, Grossman attended Ball State University; he stood 6 feet (1.8 m) tall and weighed 170 pounds (77 kg).

On Tuesday afternoon, April 22, 1952, at Fenway Park, the 21-year-old rookie was called into service to relieve starting pitcher Joe Haynes in the sixth inning. The Boston Red Sox were leading 5–2, and had two runners on base with two out. Grossman surrendered an RBI single to Vern Stephens and a three-run home run to Walt Dropo, stretching Boston's lead to 9–2, before getting the third out by retiring Faye Throneberry on a ground ball. He then left the game for a pinch hitter. Grossman was charged with two earned runs on two hits in his one-third of an inning of work.

He then returned to minor league baseball, where he compiled a stellar 42–20 win–loss mark over his first three seasons, and he retired after the 1953 campaign.

Jack Kramer (baseball)

John Henry Kramer (January 5, 1918 – May 18, 1995) was a pitcher in Major League Baseball who played with four different teams between 1939 and 1951. Listed at 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m), 190 lb (86 kg), Kramer batted and threw right-handed. He was born in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Kramer pitched 16 seasons from 1936 to 1959, twelve in the major leagues and six in the minors. He entered the majors in 1939 with the St. Louis Browns, playing for them three years before joining the U.S. Navy Seabees during World War II. Following his service discharge, he rejoined the Browns in the 1943 midseason and later was demoted to the Toledo Mud Hens of the American Association. On September 11, he pitched a 5–0 no-hitter against the Louisville Colonels. He struggled with his control in his first four years (201 walks in 345.0 IP), but received a fifth chance in part to the World War II player shortage. He responded with a heroic effort that culminated in the Browns only World Series appearance.

In 1944, Kramer led the Browns to their 8th straight Opening Day victory‚ beating Dizzy Trout and Detroit‚ 2–1, at Tiger Stadium. A week later, he extended the Browns season-opening winning streak to six games defeating the White Sox, 5–2, aiding his cause with a two-run home run. In his next start, he pitches the Browns to their American League record 9th straight win to start the season with a 3–1 victory over the Indians, which gave his team a solid 3​1⁄2 game lead in the AL standings. Kramer finished with a 17–13 record and a 2.49 ERA, including a brilliant one-hitter shutout over the White Sox in September that gave St. Louis a half game lead in front of the Yankees. The Browns finished with an 89–65 record and faced the Cardinals in the historic All-St.Louis World Series. Kramer added a complete game victory in Game Three, allowing just two unearned runs on seven hits and 10 strikeouts. This would be the last time the hapless Browns won a post-season game.

From 1945 to 1947, Kramer averaged 11 wins per season and made the American League All-Star team three times. In the 1946 Game he tossed three no-hit, shutout innings to earn a save. In addition, he went one-for-one and scored a run. In November 1947, he was sent along Vern Stephens to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for Pete Layden, Joe Ostrowski, Roy Partee, Eddie Pellagrini, Al Widmar, Jim Wilson and cash.

In 1948, Kramer went 18–5 for Boston, including a 12-game winning streak from June 3 to August 10 and five victories over the Yankees. His .783 won-loss percentage led the American League pitchers. He faded to 6–8 in 1949 and was sold the New York Giants for $25‚000. Eventually, Kramer will charge the Red Sox with railroading him out of the league because of his differences with manager Joe McCarthy. He went 1–3 for the Giants (1950–51) and 1–3 with the Yankees (1951). Although he pitched with both pennant-winners in 1951, he did not last to the World Series with either.

In a 12-season career, Kramer posted a 95–103 record with 613 strikeouts and a 4.24 ERA in 322 appearances, including 215 starts, 88 complete games, 14 shutouts, seven saves and 1637​1⁄3 innings of work. He also helped himself with the bat, hitting .144 (72-for-501) with five home runs and 39 RBI.

Kramer died in Metairie, Louisiana at age 77.

Len Matarazzo

Leonard Matarazzo (September 12, 1928 – June 19, 2015) was an American professional baseball player. On September 6, 1952, the right-handed pitcher appeared in the Major Leagues for the only time. Pitching for the Philadelphia Athletics, he worked one scoreless inning in relief against the Boston Red Sox. But he was not given another opportunity to pitch that year and spent the final two seasons of his six-year pro career in the minor leagues.Matarazzo was a 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m), 195 lb (88 kg) native of New Castle, Pennsylvania. In his fourth pro season, as a member of the 1952 Fayetteville A's, he led the Class B Carolina League with a 22–8 win–loss record and was named the league's Most Valuable Player.

He was recalled by the parent Athletics in September. In his only MLB appearance, at Fenway Park, he pitched the bottom of the eighth inning against the Red Sox in a game the Athletics were trailing, 6–4. He allowed an infield single to Dom DiMaggio and a base on balls to Billy Goodman, but retired Mel Parnell, Al Zarilla and Vern Stephens to escape unscathed.Matarrazo was sent back to Fayetteville for the 1953 season, and retired after the 1954 campaign.

Milt Jordan

Milton Mignot Jordan (May 24, 1927 – May 13, 1993) was an American professional baseball player, a 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m), 207 lb (94 kg) right-handed pitcher who appeared in eight Major League games for the 1953 Detroit Tigers. He was born in Mineral Springs, Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, and served in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II.Jordan's nine-season (1948–1956) career was spent entirely in the Tiger organization. His Major League trial came at the outset of the 1953 campaign. After two scoreless appearances as a relief pitcher, Jordan was given his only MLB starting assignment by manager Fred Hutchinson on April 22 against the Chicago White Sox at Briggs Stadium. He had a rocky second inning, surrendering three runs, but he recovered to last seven full innings, giving up six runs, all earned and 12 hits, including home runs by Chicago's Sam Mele, Sherm Lollar and Vern Stephens. He departed with the Tigers trailing 6–1, and absorbed the loss in an eventual 9–7 defeat. It was his only Major League decision. In 17 innings, he allowed 26 hits, 11 earned runs and five bases on balls, with four strikeouts.

Ironically, 1953 also represented Jordan's best minor league season, in which he won 12, lost only once, and compiled a 3.11 earned run average for the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons of the International League, mostly working as a relief pitcher.

Perry Currin

Perry Gilmore Currin (September 27, 1928 – January 17, 2011) was a professional baseball player. He appeared in three games in Major League Baseball for the St. Louis Browns of the American League during the 1947 season. Listed at 6' 0", 175 lb., Currin batted left-handed and threw right-handed. He was born in Washington, D.C.Currin appeared in three games with the Browns, two as a pinch hitter and one as a late inning replacement for shortstop Vern Stephens at the end of a blowout loss to the New York Yankees. Currin went hitless in two at bats while receiving one walk. At 18, he was the third-youngest player in the American League in 1947.

He later played in the minor leagues from 1947 through 1951, compiling a .251 average (498-for-1982) and 21 home runs in 552 games.Following his baseball career, Currin settled in San Antonio, Texas, where he died at the age of 82.


Stephens is a surname. It is a patronymic and is recorded in England from 1086.Notable people with the surname include:

Alexander Stephens (1812–1883), Vice President of the Confederate States of America

Alison Stephens (1970–2010), British mandolinist

Ann S. Stephens (1813–1886), U.S. dime novelist

Anne Stephens (WRAF officer) (1912–2000), director of the Women's Royal Air Force

Arran Stephens (born 1944), Canadian author & organic food advocate

Clara Bloodgood, born Clara Stephens (1870–1907) U.S. stage actress (granddaughter of Ann S. Stephens)

Craig Stephens (1984–present) American Football player

Frederic George Stephens (1828–1907), British art critic and member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

Florence Stephens (1881–1979), landholder and the main figure of the Huseby court case.

George Stephens (disambiguation), several people

Harry J. Stephens (1866–1947) newspaperman in agricultural Australia

Helen Stephens (1918–1994), U.S. athlete

Henry Stephens (disambiguation), several people

H. F. Stephens (1868–1931), British civil engineer in railroads

Hubert D. Stephens (1875–1946), U.S. politician

James Stephens (disambiguation), several people

James Francis Stephens (1792–1852), English zoologist

John Lloyd Stephens (1805–1852), U.S. explorer and diplomat

John Roger Stephens (born 1978), American singer-songwriter and pianist, better known as John Legend

Kenny Stephens (born 1946), English footballer

Meic Stephens (1938–2018), Welsh literary editor and journalist

Nathan Stephens (born 1988), Welsh athlete

Philip Stephens (journalist), an associate editor of the Financial Times

Sir Philip Stephens, 1st Baronet (1723–1809), British First Secretary of the Admiralty during the American Revolution

Rayner Stephens (1805–1879), Scottish Methodist minister

Richie Stephens (disambiguation), several people

Richard Stephens (born 1947), Canadian figure skater

Robert Stephens (1931–1995), British actor

Rockwell Stephens (1900–1982), U.S. author and recreational skiing pioneer

Rycklon Stephens (born 1978), American professional wrestler better known as Ezekiel Jackson

Samuel Stephens (disambiguation), several people

Santo Stephens (born 1969), American football player

Simon Stephens (born 1971), British playwright

Sloane Stevens (born 1993), American tennis player

Stan Stephens (born 1929), U.S. politician

Steve Stephens, U.S. television host and musician

Thomas Stephens (historian) (1821–1875), Welsh historian and critic

Toby Stephens (born 1969), British actor

Uriah Smith Stephens (1821–1882), U.S. labor leader

Ursula Stephens (born 1954), Australian Senator

Vern Stephens (1920–1968), U.S. baseball player

Warren Stephens (born 1957), American businessman Stephens Inc.

William Stephens (disambiguation), several people

Willis Stephens (born 1955), U.S. politician

Woody Stephens (1913–1998), U.S. Thoroughbred horse racing trainer

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