Turkey Stearnes

Norman Thomas "Turkey" Stearnes (May 8, 1901 – September 4, 1979) was an African American outfielder in the Negro leagues. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000.

Turkey Stearnes
Turkey Stearnes
Born: May 8, 1901
Nashville, Tennessee
Died: September 4, 1979 (aged 78)
Detroit, Michigan
Batted: Left Threw: Left
1920, for the Nashville Giants
Last appearance
1940, for the Kansas City Monarchs
Negro league statistics
Plate appearances3,662
Batting average.344
Home runs176
Career highlights and awards
  • All-Star (1932, 1934, 1935, 1937, 1939)
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Election MethodVeterans Committee


Born in Nashville, Tennessee, Stearnes acquired his nickname at an early age from his unusual running style. He began his career in professional baseball in 1920 with the Nashville Giants, then played for the Detroit Stars, beginning in 1923. In 1931, the Stars failed to pay Stearnes his salary because of the Great Depression, so he moved from team to team for the remainder of his career, retiring in 1942 as a member of the Kansas City Monarchs.

Stearnes is considered by some as one of the great all-around players in the history of baseball, but because of his race and his quiet personality, he never received the recognition that many believe he deserved. He batted over .400 three times and led the Negro leagues in home runs seven times. He is credited with 176 home runs in his Negro league career, the all-time Negro league record, and 50 more than second-place Mule Suttles. Since Negro league seasons were very short, sometimes lasting fewer than 30 games, it is unclear how many home runs Stearnes might have hit in a 154-game major league season. The 175-pound Stearnes was a fast baserunner despite his awkward-looking running form, and was one of the best outfielders of his generation. In 2001, writer Bill James ranked Stearnes as the 25th greatest baseball player of all-time and the best left fielder in the Negro leagues.[2]

Stearnes' known career statistics include a .344 batting average, 176 home runs, 750 games, and a .621 slugging percentage.

Other work and later life

Despite his accomplishments, Stearnes had to work winters in Detroit's auto plants to survive, primarily in a factory owned by Walter Briggs, who was the owner of the Detroit Tigers, a team he couldn't play for because of his skin color.

Stearnes was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000, 21 years after his death in Detroit. His wife, Nettie Mae, a schoolteacher, who was instrumental in her husband's posthumous induction, died in 2014.

A plaque in Stearnes' honor is on display outside the centerfield gate at the Tigers' home field, Comerica Park.


  1. ^ "Champion Monarchs Open Season With Victory" The Kansas City Advocate, Kansas City, Kansas, Friday, May 29, 1925, Page 3, Columns 1 to 5
  2. ^ James, Bill (2001). The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. The Free Press.

External links

2000 Baseball Hall of Fame balloting

Elections to the Baseball Hall of Fame for 2000 followed the system in use since 1995.

The Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) voted by mail to select from recent major league players and

elected two: Carlton Fisk and Tony Pérez.

The Veterans Committee met in closed sessions and selected three people from multiple classified ballots:

Sparky Anderson, Bid McPhee, and Turkey Stearnes.

Induction ceremonies in Cooperstown, New York, were held July 23 with George Grande as emcee.

California Winter League

California Winter League is a former baseball winter league. It was the first integrated league in the 20th century as players from Major League Baseball and Negro League Baseball played each other in training games. The league was in existence from the turn of the 20th century to 1947.

Center fielder

A center fielder, abbreviated CF, is the outfielder in baseball who plays defense in center field – the baseball and softball fielding position between left field and right field. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the center fielder is assigned the number 8.

Charlie Grant

Charles Grant Jr. (August 31, 1874 – July 9, 1932) was an African American second baseman in Negro League baseball. Grant nearly crossed the baseball color line decades before Jackie Robinson when Major League Baseball manager John McGraw attempted to pass him off as a Native American named "Tokohama".

Chicago American Giants

The Chicago American Giants were a Chicago-based Negro league baseball team, owned and managed from 1911 to 1926 by player-manager Andrew "Rube" Foster. From 1910 until the mid-1930s, the American Giants were the most dominant team in black baseball. Charter members of Foster's Negro National League, the American Giants won five pennants in that league, along with another pennant in the 1932 Negro Southern League and a second-half championship in Gus Greenlee's Negro National League in 1934. The team ended in 1956.

Cool Papa Bell

James Thomas "Cool Papa" Bell (May 17, 1903 – March 7, 1991) was an American center fielder in Negro league baseball from 1922 to 1946. He is considered to have been one of the fastest men ever to play the game. Stories demonstrating Bell's speed are still widely circulated. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974. He ranked 66th on a list of the greatest baseball players published by The Sporting News in 1999.

Detroit Stars

The Detroit Stars were an American baseball team in the Negro leagues and played at historic Mack Park. The Stars had winning seasons every year but two, but were never able to secure any championships. Among their best players was Baseball Hall of Famer Turkey Stearnes.

Hamtramck Stadium

Hamtramck Stadium, also known as Roesink Stadium, is one of only 12 remaining Negro league baseball stadiums. It is located at 3201 Dan Street, in Veterans Park, in Hamtramck, Michigan. The stadium was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012. The stadium is located near, and occasionally confused with, Keyworth Stadium (for example, see Black Baseball in Detroit, p. 59).

John Beckwith (baseball)

John Christopher Beckwith (January 10, 1900 – January 4, 1956), nicknamed The Black Bomber, was an American infielder in baseball's Negro Leagues.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, he ranked among the Negro Leagues' career leaders in batting average, home runs, RBI and slugging percentage (.587).

Standing 6-foot-3, and weighing upwards of 220 pounds, John Beckwith was one of the mightiest sluggers to ever take the field. Over a 16-year career (1918-34), the big righty, swinging his signature 38-inch bat, routinely batted over .400 against official Negro League competition. In 1927, he unofficially bashed 72 home runs against all-comers (he hit 54 HRs in 1928). Pitcher Scrip Lee, who faced both men, declared that "Babe Ruth and Beckwith were about equal in power." The legendary Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe claimed that "nobody hit the ball any farther than [Beckwith]—Josh Gibson or nobody else." Babe Ruth himself said that “not only can Beckwith hit harder than any Negro ballplayer, but any man in the world.” Beckwith, who played with such noted teams as the Chicago Giants, Baltimore Black Sox, Homestead Grays, and Lincoln Giants, was often overshadowed by Oscar Charleston, who twice topped him by a single longball for the league home run crown. Though he played nearly every position on the diamond, including pitcher, the rifle-armed Beckwith was best known as a third baseman. According to Baseball-Reference.com, three of his best offensive seasons in league play were 1925 (.407 with 16 HRs and 42 RBI in 46 games), 1930 (.471 with 20 RBI in 22 games), and 1931 (.364 with 11 HRs and 30 RBI in 30 games). If you breakdown Beckwith's league stats into modern 162 game intervals, he would average .347 with 205 hits—including 37 doubles, 10 triples, and 27 homers—107 RBI, and 118 runs scored per season. A dead-pull hitter, Beckwith had one of the quickest bats around. In fact, opposing defenses sometimes employed an over-shift on the infield—a rare occurrence versus a righty. In 1921, the 19-year-old became the first basher to hit a ball over the laundry roof behind Crosley Field. Years later, he hit a 460-foot blast in Griffith Stadium; the ball would've gone farther had it not been stopped by a 40-foot high sign. Beckwith, who Turkey Stearnes called "one of my favorite ballplayers," made his last known Negro League appearance in 1938.

Beckwith died in New York City, six days before his 56th birthday.

Kansas City Monarchs

The Kansas City Monarchs were the longest-running franchise in the history of baseball's Negro Leagues. Operating in Kansas City, Missouri and owned by J. L. Wilkinson, they were charter members of the Negro National League from 1920 to 1930. J. L. Wilkinson was the first Caucasian owner at the time of the establishment of the team. In 1930, the Monarchs became the first professional baseball team to use a portable lighting system which was transported from game to game in trucks to play games at night, five years before any major league team did. The Monarchs won ten league championships before integration, and triumphed in the first Negro League World Series in 1924. The Monarchs had only one season in which they did not have a winning record. After sending more players to the major leagues than any other Negro League franchise, the team was finally disbanded in 1965.

List of Negro league baseball players

This list comprises players who have appeared in Negro league baseball.

List of Negro league baseball players (S–Z)

This list consists of players who have appeared in Negro league baseball.

List of Negro league baseball players (A–D)

List of Negro league baseball players (E–L)

List of Negro league baseball players (M–R)

List of Negro league baseball players (S–Z)

Player inducted as a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

Memphis Red Sox

The Memphis Red Sox were a Negro League baseball team that was active from 1920 to 1959. The franchise won the 1938 Championship in their second season in the Negro American League but, despite assembling some talented line-ups in the 1940s, never replicated the success of that year.

Michigan Sports Hall of Fame

The Michigan Sports Hall of Fame is a Hall of Fame to honor Michigan sports athletes, coaches and contributors. It was organized in 1954 by Michigan Lieutenant Governor Philip Hart, Michigan State University athletic director Biggie Munn, president of the Greater Michigan Foundation Donald Weeks, general manager of the Detroit Lions W. Nicholas Kerbawy and George Alderton of the Lansing State Journal. The inaugural class was inducted in 1955. After Nick Kerbawy the President was Cyndy Winkler, who was the owner of the Mt. Clemens Race Track. Scott Lesher is its current chairman.

The Michigan Sports Hall of Fame also sponsors the Michigan MAC Trophy and the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame Cup.

Mule Suttles

George "Mule" Suttles (March 31, 1901 – July 9, 1966) was an American first baseman and outfielder in Negro league baseball, most prominently with the Birmingham Black Barons, St. Louis Stars and Newark Eagles. Best known for his power hitting, Suttles was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.

Philadelphia Stars (baseball)

The Philadelphia Stars were a Negro league baseball team from Philadelphia. The Stars were founded in 1933 when Ed Bolden returned to professional black baseball after being idle since early 1930. The Stars were an independent ball club in 1933, a member of the Negro National League from 1934 until the League's collapse following the 1948 season, and affiliated with the Negro American League from 1949 to 1952.

In 1934, led by 20-year-old left-hander Slim Jones, the Stars defeated the Chicago American Giants in a controversial playoff series, four games to three, for the Negro National League pennant. At their high point in mid-1930s, the team starred such greats as Biz Mackey, Jud Wilson, and Dick Lundy. Following his release by Cleveland, Satchel Paige signed with the Stars in July 1950, before returning to the Majors with Bill Veeck and the St. Louis Browns.

The club disbanded after the 1952 season.

Vic Harris (outfielder)

Elander Victor Harris (June 10, 1905 – February 23, 1978) was a strong-hitting outfielder and a successful manager in the Negro leagues. Listed at 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m), 168 lb., Harris batted left-handed and threw right-handed.

Walter Owens

Walter Owens (born August 19, 1933) is a former pitcher and outfielder who played in Negro League Baseball. He batted and threw right handed.Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Owens grew up in Detroit, where he played on three high school city baseball champions and received a scholarship from the Western Michigan University. In there, he played basketball and track and field.During the summer months while at college, Owens played for the Detroit Stars of the Negro American League in a three-season span from 1953 to 1955. At that time, he was forced to use an alias in order to keep his college amateur eligibility. In one game of those summers, Owens hit a single and struck out in two at-bats while facing the legendary Satchel Paige. Although Owens was considered a reliable pitcher and fierce competitor, he was guided by former Negro League star and Detroit resident Turkey Stearnes, who advised him to stay in school.Owens graduated from WMU with a bachelor's and master's degree. After graduating, he received an offer to play for the Indianapolis Clowns, but he dismissed it and began teaching school. Eventually, Owens became the baseball coach at Detroit’s Northwestern High School, where he represented a father figure for many of his players. There they called him affectionately 'Coach O', a moniker that Owens proudly used throughout his life. While at Northwestern, he also served as a mentor for future MLB All-Stars Willie Horton and Alex Johnson. Meanwhile, Owens still active and played softball in the DeKalb area until 2003, when a stroke sidelined him at the age of 70.Overall, Owens coached baseball and basketball during 54 years, 34 of them at Northern Illinois before retiring in May of 2007. Among his many accomplishments, he played on three high school baseball champion teams, four National Amateur baseball champion teams, played against the Canadian Olympic basketball team and the Harlem Globetrotters, was member of a Mid-American Conference 880-yard relay record team in 1955, and was a founding member of the National Congress of Black Faculty. In between, Owens integrated baseball in Detroit in 1957, when he joined the all-white Detroit Pepsi-Cola team.In 2008, Major League Baseball staged a Special Draft of the surviving Negro League players, doing a tribute for those ballplayers who were kept out of the Big Leagues because of their race. MLB clubs each drafted a former NLB player, and Owens was selected by the Chicago Cubs.An emeritus professor at NIU, in 2011 Owens received the E.B. Henderson Award during the annual convention of the National Association for Health & Fitness in San Diego, California. This award acknowledges those who have made outstanding contributions to the improvement and development of their community. It was presented to Owens for his leadership in fighting racial discrimination in both his profession and society.

Veterans Committee
J. G. Taylor Spink Award
Ford C. Frick Award
First basemen
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Third basemen
Designated hitters
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