Riggs Stephenson

Jackson Riggs "Warhorse" Stephenson (January 5, 1898 – November 15, 1985) was an American left fielder in Major League Baseball. Nicknamed Old Hoss,[1] Stephenson played for the Cleveland Indians from 1921 to 1925 and the rest of his career from 1926 to 1934 with the Chicago Cubs. Benefiting from the offensive surge of the late 1920s and early 1930s, he retired with a career batting average of .336, although he was only a full-time player from 1927 to 1929 and in 1932, with injuries and platooning limiting his role for the rest of his career.

Riggs Stephenson
Riggs Stephenson
Riggs Stephenson in 1924
Left fielder
Born: January 5, 1898
Akron, Alabama
Died: November 15, 1985 (aged 87)
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 13, 1921, for the Cleveland Indians
Last MLB appearance
September 24, 1934, for the Chicago Cubs
MLB statistics
Batting average.336
Home runs63
Runs batted in773
Teams

Early years

Pewstephenson
Artie Pew is attempting to tackle Stephenson. Behind Pew is Puss Whelchel.

Born in Akron, Alabama, Stephenson originally played baseball and football at the University of Alabama before he started his professional baseball career.[2] A natural athlete who excelled in both sports, Stephenson had a good reputation at the university. Former University of Alabama president George H. Denny described Riggs as "the embodiment of cleanliness, manliness, and courage."[3] He was an All-Southern fullback in 1919 and 1920.[4] He was nominated though not selected for an Associated Press All-Time Southeast 1869–1919 era team.[5] Stephenson sustained a shoulder injury in a football game in 1920 when he dropped back and was tackled by a pair of linebackers. His injury to his right shoulder was so bad that he had to end his football career as a quarterback,[2] and as a result it greatly affected his throwing abilities.[6] His throwing problems made it difficult for him to turn double plays, but his hitting compensated for those fielding woes. Stephenson quit school at Alabama and immediately made the jump to professional baseball,[2] where he signed with the defending World Series champions Cleveland Indians at the age of 23.. Riggs was one of those guys who went straight from college to the big leagues.

With the Indians

Stephenson made his major league debut on April 13, 1921,[7] and continued to play limitedly during the remainder of the season. His weak arm and throwing difficulties weakened his fielding abilities at second base,[8] as seen by the 17 errors he committed in the 54 games he played at the position that season. However, Riggs' hitting compensated for his fielding woes; he hit 17 doubles among his 68 hits during his 65-game season that year.[9] Stephenson batted .330, reaching a mark that he would frequently surpass during the rest of his professional career.

The following season, Stephenson made the transition towards playing third base in the middle of the season. In 34 games at third base, 25 at second base and three in the outfield, he committed 11 errors, a sharp improvement from the previous season.[7] He continued to shine at the plate, batting .339 in 86 games, with 24 doubles and 47 runs scored. In 1923, Stephenson was moved back to second base and only committed thirteen errors and had a .970 fielding percentage in 66 games.[7] He batted .319 for the season, finishing with 96 hits, 20 doubles and a .357 on-base percentage. On September 14, Frank Brower hit a line drive directly to Boston Red Sox first baseman George Burns, and Rube Lutzke and Stephenson were tagged out to complete Burns' unassisted triple play,[6] only the fourth in major league history.[10]

Stephenson had limited playing time again in 1924, only playing in 71 games. However, he batted a career-best .371 with 89 hits and a .439 on-base percentage.[9] He was sent to the outfield the following year, and played only 19 games before being sent back down the minor leagues by the Indians in order to make him a full-time outfielder.[2] During 1925, Riggs was optioned to the Kansas City AA team, which then traded him to Indianapolis (AA) for Johnny Hodapp.[8] In 1926, Cubs manager Joe McCarthy was able to acquire Stephenson to produce "one of the hardest hitting outfields of all time".[8]

With the Cubs

RiggsStephensonGoudeycard
Goudey baseball card, 1933

Stephenson again played limitedly with the Cubs, but spent the whole season at left field.[3] In 1926, he batted .338 with 95 hits in just 82 games.[9] The following season, his seventh in the majors, was the first complete season of his career. Riggs had a remarkable season, playing in 152 games while batting .344 with a .415 on-base percentage. His batting average was fourth-highest in the National League, and he led the league in doubles with 46. He finished fifth in the league in hits and seventh in the league for scoring 101 runs.[7] Riggs also placed 20th in the NL Most Valuable Player Award voting. He also earned the nickname "Old Hoss" because of his reliability as a hitter that season.[2] Stephenson followed up with another solid performance in 1928, batting .324 with 90 runs batted in and 166 hits.

1929 was a career year for Stephenson. He batted .362 on the year and had a .445 on-base percentage, both fifth highest in the league.[7] He finished with seventeen home runs, 110 RBIs and 179 hits. He also placed 23rd in the league's MVP Award voting this time around.[7] Stephenson teamed up with fellow Cubs outfielders and future Hall of Famers Kiki Cuyler and Hack Wilson to be the only outfield trio in NL history to drive in over 100 runs each on the season.[2][3] Stephenson was most useful in the 1929 World Series. Despite the Cubs' loss in five games to Connie Mack and the Philadelphia Athletics,[11] Stephenson collected six hits, including a double in Game 3[12] and knocked in one and scored three runs.[11] Stephenson followed up with another solid, but shortened season in 1930. In 109 games, he collected 125 hits and had a career-high .367 batting average.[2] Eighty games into the following season, on July 27, Stephenson broke his ankle in a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field.[6] Danny Taylor, along with Cuyler and Wilson, saw significant playing time for the Cubs in left field in 1930 and 1931.

Stephenson came back in 1932 and collected the most at bats of his career (583) and hit .324 with a team leading 85 RBIs. He hit a career-best 49 doubles, which gave him the third-highest total in the league. He also finished fifth in the NL MVP Award voting.[7] The 1932 Cubs won the pennant over the Pittsburgh Pirates in four games, but were then swept by the New York Yankees in the World Series that featured the Babe's "called shot home run". Stephenson collected eight hits, drove in four runs and batted a team-high .444 in the series.[13] Stephenson's playing time slowly declined.[2] He played only 97 games the following season, but maintained a solid .329 average with 114 hits.[9]

1934 was Stephenson's final year in the major leagues. He spent most of his time as a pinch hitter, but only batted a career-low .216 in 74 at bats. The Cubs released him on October 30.[7] Stephenson subsequently enjoyed a somewhat illustrious minor league career.[2]

Later years and legacy

Stephenson spent the next five years playing and managing in the minor leagues, but called it quits for good in 1939.[2][6] After baseball, he went back to Alabama, and he opened up a successful car dealership in Tuscaloosa[3] and a lumber yard in Akron.[14] He was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1971.[15] He died at the age of 87 at his Tuscaloosa home after suffering a long illness.[14]

Stephenson has one of the highest lifetime batting averages of eligible 20th-century players not in the Baseball Hall of Fame, although his relatively short career (1310 games, 4508 at bats) was barely long enough to qualify for official recognition among the career leaders; other than Earle Combs and Shoeless Joe Jackson, every other 20th-century player with a .325 batting average exceeded 6000 at bats. Stephenson's .336 career batting average, 22nd highest in major league history, is also tied with that of Bill Madlock's for the highest in Cubs team history. Stephenson hit over .300 (12 times total) in all but two of his seasons in the big leagues. Stephenson received a total of only eight votes in his four years on the Hall of Fame ballot in the late 1950s and early 1960s.[16] He was on the Veterans Committee ballot again in recent years, but failed to pick up any votes.

Career

Career Statistics:
Hitting

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO AVG OBP SLG
1310 4508 714 1515 321 54 63 773 53 9 494 247 .336 .407 .473

His lifetime fielding percentage was .969. As a left fielder, his primary position, his fielding percentage was .978.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Riggs Stephenson Baseball Statistics". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved 2006-12-25.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j David Zingler. "Riggs Stephenson Biography". Archived from the original on December 17, 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-25.
  3. ^ a b c d David Zingler (December 4, 2006). "The Top 100 Cubs Of All Time – #77 Riggs Stephenson". Archived from the original on December 14, 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-25.
  4. ^ "Experts Select Star Athletes". The State. December 5, 1920.
  5. ^ "U-T Greats On All-Time Southeast Team". Kingsport Post. July 31, 1969.
  6. ^ a b c d Jack Kavanagh. "Riggs Stephenson Baseball Biography". Baseball Library. Retrieved 2006-12-25.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h "Riggs Stephenson Baseball Statistics and Status Information". Baseball-Reference. Retrieved 2006-12-25.
  8. ^ a b c Porter, Dave L., Biographical Dictionary of American Sports: Q-Z, Greenwood Press, Westport, Ct (2000), p. 1477.
  9. ^ a b c d "Stats for Riggs Stephenson". The Baseball Page. Retrieved 2006-12-25.
  10. ^ "List of the thirteen unassisted triple plays in Major League Baseball". Baseball-Reference. Retrieved 2006-12-25.
  11. ^ a b "1929 World Series". Baseball-Reference. Retrieved 2006-12-25.
  12. ^ "Game 3 of the 1929 World Series". Retrosheet. Retrieved 2006-12-25.
  13. ^ "1932 World Series". Baseball-Reference. Retrieved 2006-12-25.
  14. ^ a b "Riggs Stephenson, 87, Dies; A Leading Hitter in Baseball". Associated Press. November 16, 1985. Retrieved 2006-12-25.
  15. ^ "Jackson Riggs "Old Hoss" Stephenson - Class of 1971". Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2006-12-25.
  16. ^ "Riggs Stephenson Baseball Statistics and Player Info". The Baseball Cube. Retrieved 2006-12-25.

External links

1919 Alabama Crimson Tide football team

The 1919 Alabama Crimson Tide football team (variously "Alabama", "UA" or "Bama") represented the University of Alabama in the 1919 college football season. It was the Crimson Tide's 26th overall and 23rd season as a member of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA). The team was led by head coach Xen C. Scott, in his first year, and played their home games at University Field in Tuscaloosa and at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama. They finished the season with a record of eight wins and one loss (8–1 overall, 6–1 in the SIAA).

After not fielding a team for the 1918 season due to the effects of World War I, in May 1919 Xen C. Scott was hired to serve as head coach of the Crimson Tide. Alabama then opened the season with four consecutive shutout victories at University Field in Tuscaloosa. After Scott defeated Birmingham–Southern in his debut as Crimson Tide head coach, the next week he defeated Ole Miss for his first SIAA victory. After a pair of blowout victories over both Howard and the Marion Military Institute, Alabama defeated Sewanee 40–0 in what was the most anticipated game of the season at Rickwood Field.

After the Sewanee win, Alabama traveled to Nashville where they lost their only game of the season against Vanderbilt 16–12. After the loss, the Crimson Tide rebounded with wins at LSU and Georgia and at Birmingham over Mississippi A&M on Thanksgiving to close the season.

1920 Alabama Crimson Tide football team

The 1920 Alabama Crimson Tide football team (variously "Alabama", "UA" or "Bama") represented the University of Alabama in the 1920 Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association football season. It was the Crimson Tide's 27th overall and 24th season as a member of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA). The team was led by head coach Xen C. Scott, in his second year, and played their home games at University/Denny Field in Tuscaloosa and at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama. They finished the season with a record of ten wins and one loss (10–1 overall, 6–1 in the SIAA). This marked the first ten win season in the history of Alabama football. Starting with Scott, every Alabama coach has won ten games in a season at least once, with the exception of Jennings B. Whitworth.

Alabama opened the season with six consecutive shutout victories over the Southern Military Academy, Marion Military Institute, Birmingham–Southern, Mississippi College, Howard, and Sewanee. In their seventh game against Vanderbilt Alabama allowed its first touchdown of the season, but won 14–7 after the Commodores threw an interception on a fourth and goal from the three-yard line in the fourth quarter.

After their shutout victory over LSU on what was the first homecoming game played at Alabama, the Crimson Tide lost their only game of the season at Atlanta against Georgia. The Bulldogs did not score on offense but won 21–14 after touchdowns were scored on a fumble return, a blocked punt return and a blocked field goal return. The loss snapped Alabama's then school-record 11-game winning streak. Alabama won their final two games against Mississippi A&M and in Cleveland at Case and finished the season 10–1.

1920 College Football All-Southern Team

The 1920 College Football All-Southern Team consists of American football players selected to the College Football All-Southern Teams selected by various organizations for the 1920 Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association football season.

Georgia and Georgia Tech both had claims to the SIAA championship.

1921 Cleveland Indians season

The 1921 Cleveland Indians season was a season in American baseball. The team finished second in the American League with a record of 94–60, 4 games behind the New York Yankees.

1922 Cleveland Indians season

The 1922 Cleveland Indians season was a season in American baseball. The team finished fourth in the American League with a record of 78–76, 16 games behind the New York Yankees.

1923 Cleveland Indians season

The 1923 Cleveland Indians season was a season in American baseball. The team finished third in the American League with a record of 82–71, 16½ games behind the New York Yankees.

1924 Cleveland Indians season

The 1924 Cleveland Indians season was a season in American baseball. The team finished sixth in the American League with a record of 67–86, ​24 1⁄2 games behind the Washington Senators.

1925 Cleveland Indians season

The 1925 Cleveland Indians season was a season in American baseball. The team finished sixth in the American League with a record of 70–84, ​27 1⁄2 games behind the Washington Senators.

1926 Chicago Cubs season

The 1926 Chicago Cubs season was the 55th season of the Chicago Cubs franchise, the 51st in the National League and the 11th at Wrigley Field (the last in which the venue was officially called "Cubs Park"). The Cubs finished fourth in the National League with a record of 82–72.

1927 Chicago Cubs season

The 1927 Chicago Cubs season was the 56th season of the Chicago Cubs franchise, the 52nd in the National League and the 12th at Wrigley Field (the first in which the park was officially named Wrigley Field). The Cubs finished fourth in the National League with a record of 85–68.

1929 Chicago Cubs season

The 1929 Chicago Cubs season was the 58th season of the Chicago Cubs franchise, the 54th in the National League and the 14th at Wrigley Field. The Cubs finished first in the National League with a record of 98–54, 10.5 games ahead of the second place Pittsburgh Pirates. The team was defeated four games to one by the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1929 World Series.

1930 Chicago Cubs season

The 1930 Chicago Cubs season was the 59th season of the Chicago Cubs franchise, the 55th in the National League and the 15th at Wrigley Field. The Cubs were managed by Joe McCarthy and Rogers Hornsby for the final four games of the season. They finished in second place in Major League Baseball's National League with a record of 90–64. In the peak year of the lively ball era, the Cubs scored 998 runs, third most in the majors. Future Hall of Famers Kiki Cuyler, Gabby Hartnett, and Hack Wilson led the offense.

1932 Chicago Cubs season

The 1932 Chicago Cubs season was the 61st season of the Chicago Cubs franchise, the 57th in the National League and the 17th at Wrigley Field. The Cubs finished first in the National League with a record of 90–64, four games ahead of the second place Pittsburgh Pirates. The team was swept four games to none by the New York Yankees in the 1932 World Series.

1933 Chicago Cubs season

The 1933 Chicago Cubs season was the 62nd season of the Chicago Cubs franchise, the 58th in the National League and the 18th at Wrigley Field. The Cubs finished third in the National League with a record of 86–68.

1934 Chicago Cubs season

The 1934 Chicago Cubs season was the 63rd season of the Chicago Cubs franchise, the 59th in the National League and the 19th at Wrigley Field. The Cubs finished third in the National League with a record of 86–65.

1962 Baseball Hall of Fame balloting

Elections to the Baseball Hall of Fame for 1962 followed a new system for even-number years. Since 1956 the Baseball Writers' Association of America and Veterans Committee had alternated in their duties, but the BBWAA, voting by mail to select from recent major league players, had elected no one for 1958 and no one for 1960. Now there would be a second, "runoff" election in case of no winner. At the same time the Veterans Committee resumed meeting annually to consider executives, managers, umpires, and earlier major league players.

The provision for a runoff election was not necessary yet, for the writers elected two new candidates on their first ballot, Bob Feller and Jackie Robinson. The Veterans Committee also selected Bill McKechnie and Edd Roush, both of whom were still alive to be interviewed and invited to the induction ceremonies.

Denny Lyons

Dennis Patrick Aloysius Lyons (March 12, 1866 – January 2, 1929) was a Major League Baseball player. He played third base for the Providence Grays (1885), Philadelphia Athletics (1886–90), St. Louis Browns (1891 and 1895), New York Giants (1892) and Pittsburgh Pirates (1893–94 and 1896–97).

Lyons was born in Cincinnati. He led the American Association in On-base percentage (.461), Slugging Percentage (.531) and OPS (.992) in 1890. He still ranks 45th on the MLB Career On-base percentage List (.407), behind Jeff Bagwell and ahead of Riggs Stephenson. Lyons reached base by a hit or a walk in 52 consecutive games in 1887.He died in West Covington, Kentucky, at the age of 62.

Porter Cup (trophy)

The Porter Cup was a sterling silver trophy once awarded by the Porter Clothing Company to the best all-around athlete from a major southern university, including the University of Alabama, Birmingham-Southern College, Tulane and Tennessee's three major universities: Vanderbilt, Sewanee and Tennessee. The three in Tennessee were given by Alf Porter, and Alabama's was given by Henry Porter Loving. Alabama's is thus also called the "Porter Loving Cup".

Stephenson

Stephenson is a medieval patronymic surname meaning "son of Stephen". The earliest public record is found in the county of Huntingdonshire in 1279. There are variant spellings including Stevenson. People with the surname include:

Benjamin Stephenson (disambiguation), several people

Ben Stephenson, Anglo-American television executive

Charles Bruce Stephenson (1929–2001), American astronomer

D. C. Stephenson (1891–1966), American, Ku Klux Klan leader

Debra Stephenson (born 1972), British actress

Dwight Stephenson, American football player

Earl Stephenson (born 1947), American baseball pitcher

Gene Stephenson, American college baseball coach

George Stephenson (1781–1848), British mechanical engineer who created Stephenson's Rocket

George Robert Stephenson (engineer) (1819–1905), English civil engineer (nephew of George Stephenson)

Gilbert Stephenson (1878–1972), British Vice Admiral

Gordon Stephenson (1908–1997), town planner and architect in Perth, Australia

Helga Stephenson, Canadian media executive

Henry Stephenson (1871–1956), British actor

Isaac Stephenson (1829–1918), U.S. politician from Wisconsin

Jim Stephenson, New Zealand international football (soccer) goalkeeper

John Stephenson (disambiguation), people named John Stephenson

Lance Stephenson (born 1990), American professional basketball player

M. F. Stephenson (1801 – after 1878), U.S. assayer of the Dahlonega, Georgia Mint

Neal Stephenson (born 1959), U.S. author

Nicola Stephenson (born 1971), British actress

Pamela Stephenson (born 1949), New Zealand-Australian comedian, actress and psychologist, also known as Pamela Connolly

Paul Stephenson (footballer), former British footballer.

Paul Stephenson (civil rights campaigner), British civil rights campaigner.

Sir Paul Stephenson, former London Metropolitan Police Commissioner.

Paul Stephenson (rugby league), Australian professional rugby league footballer.

Riggs Stephenson (1898–1985), U.S. baseball player

Robert Stephenson (1803–1859), British civil and railway engineer (son of George Stephenson)

Samuel M. Stephenson (1803–1859), U.S. politician from Michigan

Thomas Alan Stephenson (1898–1961), British zoologist

Tyler Stephenson (b. 1996), American baseball player

William Stephenson (1897–1989), Canadian soldier, airman, businessman, inventor, and spymaster

William Stephenson (psychologist) (1902–1989), psychologist and physicist

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