Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Nicknames: Turkey Stearnes
One such player whom I just recently became aware of is Norman "Turkey" Stearnes, who played for a number of teams during his twenty-year career. Stearnes was a 2000 inductee into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, which makes it even more amazing that I don't recall having ever heard his name.
In one of the best baseball books I have ever read (not to mention beautifully written!), Joe Posnanski mentions Stearnes as just one of many former Negro Leaguers whom Buck O'Neil sought to get inducted into the Hall of Fame. Yes, the nickname (you guessed it) came from the odd way in which Stearnes ran; but Buck also recalled how Turkey would talk to his bats. If a bat didn't get a hit, Stearnes would supposedly scold the piece of lumber. Judging from his career numbers, he must not had to have too many pep talks with them-he hit between .326 and .378 over his nine years in Detroit. He also hit .430 in 1929. Not only could the man hit, but he had awesome power, as well as a good glove and speed to burn. Posnanski didn't mention whether or not Stearnes would praise his bats for their many hits.