Robert Riger's first perspective on sports was an imperfect one. It was the Polo Grounds, from a fourth floor window in an apartment on Coogan's Bluff which allowed, in summer, a view of first and second base and in the fall, one end of the football field. From here he began watching the New York Giants, both kinds, at an age so tender that when he first saw the football team in action he thought it was simply John McGraw's crew in a change of costume.
Although Riger's devotion to N.Y. Giants of any description has not wavered since, with the passing of the years he has come to know sports a little better—and his perspective is perfect. The combination accounts for the three covers he has done for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and numerous drawings for stories which range from boxing and wrestling to basketball and horse racing.
Of the players Riger used to admire from afar, Hubbell, Ott and Terry preceded him into Baseball's Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, but last year Riger made it there in his own way. After Sid Keener, Cooperstown's director, saw Riger's diagrammatic drawing of the great play by Amoros which held the Yankees in the seventh game of last year's World Series (SI, Oct. 17), he wrote to find out if it was possible to add the original to the museum's collection. Among all the photographs and drawings he had seen, this was, Keener said, the only complete document of the play in picture form.
In this issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED Riger uses his artistic and documentary talent to show a day in the training camp life of his old friends, the N.Y. Giants. No one will mistake them for their baseball counterparts as they study their lessons and go through their cadence counting and skeleton drills (pages 26 to 31).
September 2, 1956
To get the story, Riger ate, slept and lived with the Giants at their training quarters at St. Michael's College in Winooski, Vt. "Don't get run over," is the only restriction Giant Coach Jim Lee Howell placed upon him.
"I didn't," Riger says, "but sometimes I had to hope when they yelled, 'Let's have a belly 47 R hook B fly outside' that the play wouldn't come up my back!"
When he left, Howell told him, "You sure ran the most—and bothered us the least."
With that, somewhat winded, Bob Riger picked up his sketchbook and returned to finish his drawings in the safety of his studio.