Saturday, January 13, 2024

1961 Fleer Autograph Project - Part 40

Before we get started, can we just acknowledge the utter lack of visual appeal in this card?  The crude signature combined with the extreme diamond cut of the card makes it one of the less attractive cards in this project.  Yowza.

I've mentioned before that the 1960 and 1961 Fleer sets engage in a bit of mis-advertising.  They are called Baseball Greats, but there are a fair number of subject players that, while noteworthy, are not necessarily great.  Riggs Stephenson here is a good example. A solid hitter, his defensive deficiencies along with a history of injuries meant that he was only was a starting player for 4 seasons in a 14 year career.  Interestingly, he received MVP votes in 3 of those 4 seasons. This included coming in 5th place in the 1932 race behind winner Chuck Klein, but ahead of such notables as Mel Ott and Pie Traynor.

Some interesting facts about Stephenson

  1. His major league career ended in 1934, but he continued to play in the minor leagues through 1939.  This included a 1936 stint as player-manager for the Birmingham Barons of the Southern Association.  That year, he was the offensive leader of the team, hitting .355 while leading the team to the league championship.
  2. He was a three sport standout at the University of Alabama, earning 3 varsity letters each in football and baseball, and 1 in basketball. His football coach at 'Bama described Riggs as “better football player than Jim Thorpe."
  3. While at Alabama one of his baseball teammates was future Hall of Famer Joe Sewell.
  4. He appeared in both the 1929 and 1932  World Series for the Chicago Cubs.  The Cubbies lost both series through no fault of Stephenson who hit .316 and .444 respectively in the two series.
  5. After his baseball career ended, he returned home to Alabama to farm and run various successful business ventures.

What I am listening to:: Muscle Shoals Nitty Gritty by Herbie Mann

1 comment:

  1. I don't think that the signature looks all that bad, especially considering that he most likely would've been in his 80's when he signed this. I really like the photo on the card too, especially since I don't recall ever having seen it before.