Welcome to the first edition of AWFUL Friday, where we immortalize the worst looking cards and the worst players in Royals history.
1985 DONRUSS #42 RUSS STEPHANS RC - Beckett Value: $.25
Nothing in the world could make a father more proud than to see his son on a baseball card. That is, unless your son is Russ Stephens and they shot his photo right after he toked up. I'm kidding, I have no idea if Russ Stephens ever touched a joint in his life, but I do know that this is the second card in three days featuring a player who was very proud of pooping himself.
If you collect baseball cards you'll immediately notice how odd it is to see a player wearing his minor league uniform on the photo. Nowadays they would simply Photoshop it out. Before that they would have just airbrushed it out, a practice that goes back long before this card was released. Honestly though, that's the only saving grace for this awful shot. Otherwise we've got a hairy-chested man in a softball top standing in front of the ruins of a Roman amphitheater. Awful.
Donruss debuted in the card market in 1981 and stuck to the exact same design for several years. By the time they switched it up in the late 80's, everyone wished they would have just left it alone. The company made a name for themselves with their "Rated Rookies" cards, boldly exclaiming who they expected to be the top rookies for that season. Donruss was purchased in 2009 by Panini America who continues to produce baseball cards, albeit unlicensed versions without any MLB logos or team names. More on that in a future post.
Card Back: 4/10
I really can't hate too hard on this card back. It's pretty boring but it has all of the basics. Yeah, it's mustard yellow but Donruss was freaking obsessed with mustard yellow. I'm a little confused by the unnecessary abbreviations in the last sentence, it's not like they were rnng. out of rm.
Overall Score: 3/10
Stephans' 1985 Season:
Do you remember Russ Stephans? Bullshit. Quit lying. Wait, you do? You must have been an avid reader of Baseball America or however people got their prospect updates before Dubya's Top Farm Performers. Russ Stephans never made his major league debut. As you read on the back of his card, a dislocated shoulder in 1984 cut his season and promising career far too short. As a catcher, it's important to have a strong arm, unless you rewind yourself into a great clubhouse guy. Apparently Stephans did not. Russ played in ten games for Omaha in 1985 as a DH and 35 more in 1986. He was never the same and was forced to retire thereafter. As far as I can tell, Stephans last surfaced as a teacher and the coach of the Agoura High School Chargers baseball team in 2007. If anyone knows anymore on his whereabouts or has any Russ-related stories, please share!