Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Nicknames: Turkey Stearnes

  I must admit- as much as I love the game of baseball, I still have so much to learn about its history. In particular, my knowledge of the history of the Negro Leagues is very limited. Sure, there are a few names I have been familiar with: Cool Papa Bell, Satchel Page, Josh Gibson, and Buck O'Neil (the subject of a recently finished book: The Soul of Baseball by Joe Posnanski)-to name a few. For the most part though, I am ignorant when it comes to many of the men who played in the league.

  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.

1 comment:

  1. It's funny you mention it - I 100% agree, the Posnanski book on Buck O'Neill is one of the best books I've ever read. O'Neill's positive outlook on life puts perspective to the things we all probably complain about on a daily basis.

    It's not just because that is how Buck O'Neill was as a person - I kind of KNEW that before, kind of like you know Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens are jerks - but it's also Posnanski's writing, which does a service to O'Neill in showing HOW that positive attitude made those around him better.