Bill Riggins

From BR Bullpen

Arvell Riggins (Bo, Junior)

  • Bats Both, Throws Right

Bill Riggins was a top shortstop in the Negro Leagues during the 1920s who battled problems with alcohol. He is attributed with a .309 career average in the Negro Leagues and .321 in the California Winter League.

Riggins became a regular with the Detroit Stars in 1920, hitting .292 as the third baseman. In 1921, he batted .269/.307/.352 and fielded .884 at shortstop. The next year, the 22-year-old's batting line was .256/.316/.330 while his .949 fielding percentage at short led the Negro National League. He was 1 for 10 against the 1922 Detroit Tigers in an exhibition. In 1922-1923, he hit .236 and slugged .294 in the California Winter League.

Riggins batted second and played short for Detroit in 1923. He hit .302/.369/.426 and fielded .923. he again struggled in a brief look against major leaguers, going 1 for 13 against the 1923 St. Louis Browns. In the 1923-24, he hit .326 and slugged .349 in the California Winter League.

In 1924, Riggins batted .301 for Detroit. Back in California for the winter, he hit .274 and slugged .403. He also played for Habana in Cuba, hitting .370 and slugged .479. He slipped to .278 in 1925 in the Negro Leagues but his 18 steals were good for second in the NNL behind Cool Papa Bell. In 1926, he hit 302 and stole 16, again second to Bell.

Riggins moved to the Cleveland Hornets in 1927 and batted .311 as their top performer. He also joined the Homestead Grays against a white MLB assembly and was 0 for 3. In 1928, Riggins moved to the New York Lincoln Giants and played third base. He hit .243 but his 8 steals were 4th in the Eastern Colored League behind John Henry Lloyd, Tubby Scales and Oscar Charleston. In 1928-1929, Riggins led the Cuban Winter League with 9 triples for Almendares but no other statistics are available. In 1929 in the Negro Leagues, Riggins posted a .331 batting average.

In the 1929-1930 winter, he hit .273 and slugged .318 for Santa Clara in Cuba. In 1930, he was back at shortstop and hit .333 for New York. He hit .361 and slugged .655 in the California Winter League in 1930-1931. His 10 doubles tied him for the lead with Jack Ridley and Poindexter Williams. He was second to Turkey Stearnes, his old Detroit teammate, in average and his 7 homers were one behind Stearnes, the leader. It was his last impressive turn.

Riggins joined Lloyd's Harlem Stars in 1931 but only hit .137. He then bounced around minor black teams - the Brooklyn Royal Giants for two years and the Miami Giants for three to end his career in 1936.

For many years, Riggins' proper first name was listed as "Orville" in the record books. Researcher Gary Ashwill discovered in 2007 that in both the 1930 census and Riggins' World War I draft card, Riggins' name is listed as Arvell. Ashwill discovered Riggins' birthdate and also that his father was from Georgia, his mother from Tennessee and that he had at least two children, William and Lonnie. It also appeared that Riggins was possibly either divorced, widowed or remarried by 1930.

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