Thursday, November 7, 2013

Biscuit News & Turkey Talk pt2


The new team website is up, the revamp isnt too far from what it was. More its just putting the same content into a different stack - one that matches what the league was lobbying them for.

Former Biscuit Merrill Kelley pitched in the AFL game on tv last night, broadcast on MLBNetwork.

The games are a testing ground for video replay review, and teams were challenging any play that came up. I tweeted about it and got a nice reply from Ozzie saying that they were asked to challenge often so it could be tested.


its spelled Stearnes!
While many mistakenly think of Stearnes as having come from Montgomery, even more think he played his first pro games here in 1921 - including otherwise well-educated baseball websites like, and many others who have no excuse for not checking their facts.

In actuality Norman started his baseball career at the age of nineteen in 1920 with Nashville, contributing at least 35 plate appearances while batting .265.

This is very contrary to the idea of him turning pro and coming here in his first tilt. Even the term of "professional" is debatable, as the Montgomery team was with the Independent Negro League for the 1921 season when they signed Norman Stearnes.

In all, Turkey spent only a single summer in Montgomery. The City of Montgomery press release erroneously states that he began his playing career here, as do many otherwise reliable sources, but the reality is he spent a year for hometown Nashville BEFORE signing on to play with the Grey Sox of Montgomery in the Negro Southern League at the age of 20 years old.
But he won't find it easy to get playing time here...

Turkey rare photo says 1927 but
 might be 1932 Chicago American Giants
Known records show him making a meager 18 trips to the plate for the 1921 GreySox, rapping just one lone home run towards his twenty year career total of 176 (or, alternatively 183, or maybe 181 depending on your source.)

Negro leagues infamously didnt keep full statistics, and Stearnes likely posts numbers now lost to history, as did '21 GreySox teammates such as Steel Arm Dickey.

Stearns himself said "I never counted my home runs, I had so many. If we didn't win it didn't matter."

In spite of his legendary status in the area, Stearnes wasn't exactly what we would call Montgomerys most prolific player - his one home run accounts for exactly half of the two hits he records with the Mgm team.

Cramton Bowl baseball game 1920's
The Gray Sox usually played their home games at College Hill Park, located on what is now the ASU campus or at Cramton Bowl when available.

That one home run, however, IS the first professional home run of his long and storied Hall of Fame career.

Perhaps that is why its a common misconception that he played his first games here, as well as one of the reasons Montgomery adopted him into their baseball pantheon.

In a bio of Stearnes on its said he struggled in limited at bats with the Montgomery team, which sounds alot more like what one would expect from a 20 yr old rookie with a funky batting stance on a pennant winning team loaded with talent - which the Gray Sox very much were.

Biscuit comparison - Turkey Stearnes played for Montgomery a little more than rehabbing Pat Burrell's 10 plate appearances in two games 2009, a little less than 2010 Jose Lobaton's 28 plate appearances in seven games and almost exactly like 2013 Evan Frey's four games, 18 plate appearances and three hits.

I have never seen anyone imitate Turkey Stearnes batting stance - unorthodox would be an understatement! Sadly, I have not seen a photo or even an illustration of Stearnes at the plate during game action. However several descriptions give us the following details...

1. Stearnes, a lefty, stood in the middle of the left handed batters box with what we today would call an "open" stance - his bellybutton facing the pitcher, at the time pretty much unheard of.
2. Stearnes would hold his bat with both arms straight in front of him, pointing the bat straight up into the air over home plate and letting the barrel lean slightly toward the pitcher.
3. Most unusual of all, Stearnes would plant his right foot heel down on the ground and point his toes skyward while waiting for the pitcher to deliver the ball.

Of Turkey stearnes hitting stance Satchel Paige was quoted saying he "hit with his right foot in the bucket and twisted his right heel and pointed his big toe up."

Stearnes had one of the most unusual hitting styles in history, but his legendary speed and talent for getting the bat through the hitting zone led him to a career .344 batting average.

Stearnes, center, with Monarchs teammates
TURKEY STEARNES stats with Montgomery Gray Sox in 1921, from Baseball Reference dot com.

18 plate appearances
3 runs scored
2 hits
1 home run
3 runs batted in
3 stolen bases
.111 Batting Average
.278 Slugging Percentage
5 total bases

Uhhh, really? Someone get on the horn and ask them how a guy hits a home run and steals three bags but only has 5 total bases. I think we have to ask for a recount on those totals. A homer is four bags, three steals bring us to seven total bases and there is yet another hit listed, so he HAD to have at least 8 TB.

Just another example of how little people have fact checked Turkey Stearnes info and rely on what they are told in spite of what can plainly be seen.

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