A left-handed power threat, Turkey Stearnes played “long ball” for 19 years in the Negro Leagues beginning in 1923, his first year in the league, when he hit 35 home runs. In addition to hitting the long ball, Turkey was a great outfielder, with good speed and range. He also utilized his speed on the bases, and was considered to be a hard slider.
After leaving the Detroit Stars, he joined the Chicago American Giants, where his .387 batting average powered them to a pennant in 1933, and warranted his selection to start in the first East-West All-Star game, held in Comiskey Park. After this initial All-Star appearance, the veteran outfielder played in three additional games, 1934, 1935 and 1937.
Turkey’s stance was easily recognizable, with his front foot heel down and toe pointed straight up. Although weighing only 168 lbs., Stearnes was a natural hitter with powerful shoulders. In addition to hitting tape-measure home runs, he raked Negro League pitching for averages over .400 in three separate seasons (.404 in 1926, .414 in 1930 and .404 in 1935), and also recorded a .351 average in exhibitions against major leaguers.
Born in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1901, Turkey Stearnes died in Detroit in 1978.
cf, lf, 1b
Detroit Stars, New York Lincoln Giants
Kansas City Monarchs, Cole’s American Giants
Philadelphia Stars, Chicago American Giants
Chuck Klein, Goose Goslin