Sunday, May 26, 2013

1997 Topps Stadium Club Co-Signers Gregg Jefferies/Scott Rolen Autograph

In retrospect, I could think of many reasons why a Cardinals fan would put Scott Rolen and Gregg Jefferies on the same baseball card none of which are really great reason to remember a baseball player.  Gregg Jefferies came up with the Mets in the late 80s as a can't miss wonder prospect.  You know the kind that never fail and end up in the Hall of Fame shortly after their careers end.  Rolen came up in the mid 90s and was seem by Phillies fans as the next Mike Schmidt.  Both ended up on the Cardinals during the prime of their career making this card, though both are pictured on the Phillies, a cool collectible for Cardinals fans.

1997 Topps Stadium Club Co-Signers Scott Rolen Autograph 

Rolen is probably the more recognizable face on this card was a great young player when this card was issued.  Rolen spent his first half dozen seasons in Philadelphia where he won a few Gold Gloves and became one of the most feared offensive third baseman in the game.  He eventually had some differences with the management of the Phillies and was traded to the Cardinals in 2002 for Placido Polanco.  Rolen would continue to be recognized as the best all-around third baseman in the National League and probably could have won an MVP in 2004 if two other Cardinals players (Jim Edmonds and Albert Pujols) had not all had career years the same season.  In 2005, Rolen collided with the legendary Hee Seop Choi wrecking his shoulder and cutting short the prime years of Rolen's career.

The decreased production eventually led Rolen into a little squable with Tony LaRussa which led to his trade to the Blue Jays.  Rolen ended his career as a candidate for the Hall of Very Good Players and a nice contributor to some Reds teams the last two years.  While he helped the Cardinals win the 2006 World Series, he will always be remembered for his exit from the Cardinals (and the Phillies) more than some of the better moments in his career.  My favorite was always his 2004 NLCS home run off of Roger Clemens in Game 7.

1997 Topps Stadium Co-Signers Gregg Jefferies Autograph 

The other half of the card features Gregg Jefferies.  After a few years of not living up to his potential with the Mets, the team shipped him off to the Royals in exchange for Bret Saberhagen.  After one season with the Royals the team traded him to the Cardinals where he batted over .320 twice and made two National League All-Star teams.  Besides hitting .300 Jefferies excelled at throwing batting helmets and yelling frequently at anyone and everyone.  Great player, not a model of sportsmanship.   At the end of the 1994 season, Jefferies became a free agent and signed with the Phillies.  At the time the Cardinals were a low budget team, but according to almost everyone involved, the team actually tried to sign Gregg Jefferies.  Jefferies departure from the Cardinals allowed Topps to put together this fabulous card of a former top prospect, with what was at the time of the card's production, one of the current best prospects.  

Cardinals fans were not really happy that Jefferies bolted the team to sign with the Phillies, but he did not exactly play up to his contract with the Phillies.  The Cardinals took the money they saved on not signing Jefferies and picked up two-time American League All-Star, and St. Louis native, Scott Cooper and former Reds and Phillies ace Danny Jackson.  Neither player lived up to their contract with the Cardinals either.  

While these players are a little bit dubious in the eyes of Cardinals fans they were both above average players who made some good contributions to their teams during their time in St. Louis.  Rolen might be in the Hall of Fame if it were not for running into Hee Seop Choi.  Jefferies gave fans in St. Louis an All-Star player to watch during two of the leanest seasons in Cardinals history.  Not all Cardinals fans would love this card, but I am happy to give it a home.

1 comment:

  1. Man these co-signers cards were tough pulls. I remember trying to track down as many as I could afford back in the day. Years later, I still shake my head when I see Grudzielanek paired with Gwynn. Why couldn't they pair up Puckett and Gwynn? Or Boggs and Gwynn.

    At least I have my Chipper and Jeter to comfort me.