A couple of months ago, I wanted to do posts on the worst rated rookie cards every made.  In the mid 1980s prospecting was tough, here was a list of the 1985 Rated Rookies:

27 Danny Tartabull Rated Rookie
28 Mike Bielecki Rated Rookie
29 Steve Lyons Rated Rookie
30 Jeff Reed Rated Rookie
31 Tom Brewer Rated Rookie
32 John Morris Rated Rookie
33 Daryl Boston Rated Rookie
34 Alfonso Pulido Rated Rookie
35 Steve Kiefer Rated Rookie
36 Larry Sheets Rated Rookie
37 Scott Bradley Rated Rookie
38 Calvin Schiraldi Rated Rookie
39 Shawon Dunston Rated Rookie
40 Charlie Mitchell Rated Rookie
41 Billy Hatcher Rated Rookie
42 Russ Stephens Rated Rookie
43 Alejandro Sanchez Rated Rookie
44 Steve Jeltz Rated Rookie
45 Jim Traber Rated Rookie
46 Doug Loman Rated Rookie

We are definitely not talking about Hall of Famers here, however there is one name that stood out.  Russ Stephans has no major league stats.  Now to be fair to Donruss, in 1983 he was promoted to the Royals, however he never got into any games.  This is probably why he was named a rated rookie.  The sad truth to the matter was that in 1984 he had a stellar season, even being named to the AAA All Star team.  He was considered a shoe in for a September call up.

It never happened though, he injured his shoulder in August and being a catcher, he was never really the same.  Just two years later he retired from baseball at the ripe old age of 25.  Back in the 80s though to even get your own card was special, so the fact that he showed up as a Rated Rookie (developing from a 49th round draft pick no less) is pretty special.  He though would be one of the few Rated Rookies to never play in Major League Baseball.

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5 responses »

  1. tomseaver says:

    Doug Loman should be right up there with Stephens.He was a second round pick who barely lasted two years before packing it in.

  2. Chris C. says:

    I like the new layout!

  3. anyone who knows Russ Stephans or who were honored to call him “my catcher” knows that Russ was one of the , if not the best catchers, in all of baseball. If it weren’t for 20 major arm and knee surguries, you’d be talking about Russ and forgets names such as Pugh Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, as so on. Russ is still having his knees worked on because of him chasing balls in the dirt throw my me so they didn;t go to the backstop. Please add to this if you know Russ Stephans, and overrated rookie,try underrated and unappreciative. I would of never made it to pro ball in the minors if it weren’t for russ so exit this statement before you know all the facts, NATIONAL INQUIRY

  4. Bobby D. says:

    I’ve known Russ I’d guess my entire life. He’s always lived and breathed baseball. My dad was one of his best friends since they were kids, and he had always told me how good Russ was and how he came SO close to making it to the show and actually getting to play, but injuries really derailed his career. It’s too bad that happened because going from playing baseball for a living to anything else must be hard when you have to quit before really making it.

  5. Robert Johnson says:

    That idiot cost me my fantasy team back in 85 because I drafted him since he was on a rated rookie card. I assumed he was on the team because he was on the card but by August, I found out he was in the minors sucking down chili dogs. I replaced him with Geno Petralli (who qualified as catcher that year but apparently that is a gay term which I would later find out the hard way). By September, I was ‘servicing’ other team owners to get out of my financial debt…….all because of Russ Stephans

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