The Negro League Baseball Museum continues to rejoice Negro League historical past, and Invoice Ladson of MLB.com has written a sequence of articles on a number of the league’s legends. In the present day, the main target is on gardener Turkey Stearnes. Of the Negro Leagues gamers enshrined within the Baseball Corridor of Fame,
The Negro League Baseball Museum continues to rejoice Negro League historical past, and Invoice Ladson of MLB.com has written a sequence of articles on a number of the league’s legends. In the present day, the main target is on gardener Turkey Stearnes.
Of the Negro League gamers enshrined within the Baseball Corridor of Fame, Norman “Turkey” Stearnes is arguably essentially the most underrated. You do not hear his title in the identical means as Josh Gibson or Satchel Paige.
Stearnes did not hit tape measure pictures like Gibson nor was he thought of the quickest man to play the sport like Cool Papa Bell. However Stearns was revered by his counterparts.
• Web page from the historical past of the Negro Leagues
“Nice Papa Bell mentioned, ‘If Turkey will not be within the Corridor of Fame, then nobody deserves to be within the Corridor of Fame.’ That tells you ways good Turkey Stearnes was, “mentioned Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro League Baseball Museum.” It is most likely among the best endorsements you will get. “
Here is why a brighter highlight ought to shine on Stearnes: He was Rickey Henderson of the Negro Leagues. Stearnes was a five-tool participant, primarily with the Detroit Stars from 1923 to 1931. He was arguably among the best beginning hitters in Black League historical past. A .415 on-base proportion backs him up, in response to the Seamheads.com black league database.
Stearns had an unorthodox means of enjoying the sport. His batting stance was a sight to behold. In case you thought Ichiro Suzuki’s batting stance was unorthodox, take into account this image of the left-handed Stearnes as he entered the batter’s field: he had an open stance together with his proper heel crooked and his huge toe pointing up.
“The factor about Negro Leagues was that it was an amazing place to experiment. It was a spot for unorthodox types and to attempt one thing completely different,” mentioned Thom Loverro, who wrote “The Encyclopedia of Negro League Baseball.” “It simply lends itself to extra artistic methods of enjoying baseball in comparison with the established construction of the Main Leagues.”
With that stance, Stearnes received six residence run titles and was a perennial .300 hitter throughout his 20-year profession. Much more shocking: A Stearnes previous his prime nonetheless managed to play in 4 of the primary 5 East-West All-Star Video games within the 1930s.
Nicknamed “Turkey” as a result of he ran the bases like a turkey, Stearnes may fly. Based on the Seamheads.com black league database, Stearnes stole 143 bases throughout his profession.
“All the pieces about him on the plate was unorthodox, however very efficient,” Kendrick mentioned. “All the pieces Turkey did most likely goes towards the guide by way of how you can strategy hitting. However that unorthodox fad labored very well for him and he is among the best hitters.”
He neglected Stearnes’ defensive prowess. The opponents didn’t dare to take an additional base on his throwing arm. His pace helped him make nice catches throughout the hole. It is no surprise he is gotten reward from Bell.
Born in 1901, Stearnes needed to begin work at age 15 after his father’s loss of life, however he continued to pursue his baseball goals. Like most Negro Leagues gamers throughout that interval, Stearnes was a wandering vagabond. His profession within the Negro Leagues started with the Nashville Elite Giants in ’20. The next season, he joined the Montgomery Grey Sox earlier than going to the Memphis Purple Sox at 22.
The next season, Stars supervisor Bruce Petway satisfied Stearnes to hitch the roster, and it was in Detroit that Stearnes grew to become generally known as a whole outfielder who, in response to historian James A. Riley in his guide The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues “” would slide exhausting into an infielder making an attempt to use the tag. “
Stearnes by no means performed baseball within the main leagues. She was 45 when Jackie Robinson broke the colour barrier in April 1947. Based on her daughter, Rosilyn Stearnes-Brown, her father was by no means bitter. He performed baseball for the love of the sport.
“He cherished what he was doing and he was actually good at it,” Brown advised the Detroit Historic Society. “He simply appreciated the truth that he may play.”
Invoice Ladson has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002. He lined the Nationals / Expos from 2002 to 2016. Comply with him on Twitter and Fb.