Over his 18 years in the Negro Leagues, Norman Thomas Stearns “Turkey” has harnessed strength and speed to honor Baseball Hall of Fame.
But his daughter, Roslyn Stearns-Brown, choirmaster and organist at Amazing Grace Lutheran Church in Warren, Michigan, admired what her father achieved through willpower like an older-than-average pupil.
“He was a firm believer in education, but had to drop out of high school to help his family after his father passed away,” said Stearns Brown, a professional musician and retired Detroit Public Schools teacher. “But he came back and graduated from high school at the age of 21.”
Stearnes-Brown shares her father’s many accomplishments in her book Fans Dubbed Him ‘Turkey’, Called Him Dad: Daughter Remembers Baseball Hall of Fame Norman Thomas Stearns (McFarland Books, 2022).
“He was a great man and a great personality,” she said. He loved people, and he never had a bad word to say. Some people thought he didn’t have much to say because he was quiet. But he did – he chose his moments carefully.
Stearns retired from baseball In 1940, seven years ago Jackie Robinson He broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball (MLB), and died in September 1979 at the age of 78. His nickname arose either from his distinctive running style, in which arms fluttered like the wings of a turkey, or, as Stearns himself said, because he had a pitcher as a child.
The appreciation they deserve
A 5-foot-11, 175-pound quarterback, Stearns primarily played for the Detroit Stars in a career that began in 1923. It wasn’t until nearly 100 years later, in 2020, that MLB announced that he had been “corrected.” Officially long oversight of the game’s history “by recognizing the Negro League players of Major League caliber and including that league’s statistics as part of the sport’s record and history.
Stearnes played in 986 league games (not including sparrow rounds and other fairs) and hit .349. A five-time All-Star, he is credited with the Negro League – 186 Best Home Game and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, in 2000.
Born in 1946, Stearnes-Brown learned about her father’s baseball exploits by listening to front porch conversations between Stearnes and legendary pitcher Leroy “Satchel” Paige, as well as from her Negro League star uncle, Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe.
“The players in the Negro leagues were great men in baseball and in their personal lives,” she said. “You would have thought that with all they endured, all the prejudice, they would have been bitter, but they did not focus on the negative, only on the positive that they can do.”
“I wish it was done for them while they were still alive, but I’m happy now that they’re recognized as top leagues.”
Stearns Brown described her father as a humble, generous, generous and dependable man of faith, and said her family’s Lutheran roots go back to her maternal grandmother, Olga MacArthur.
When Stearns Brown was 4 and her sister Joyce was 3, the girls went to Birmingham, Ala, to live with their grandmother for two years while their mother, Nettie Mae, underwent treatment for an intestinal blockage.
MacArthur’s love of music turned on the girls as he had Nettie Mae, who would play piano at the Stearnes House while Turkey and his daughters sang as third.
Both Roslyn and her sister – Joyce Stearns Thompson – sing professionally with celebrities Brazil Denard Coral, based in Detroit. For the past 13 years, the sisters have also been invited by the Detroit Tigers to perform the national anthem at Comerica Park during the team’s annual Celebration of Major League Baseball. This year they have also been asked to sing “Raise Every Voice and Sing,” which is commonly referred to as the Black National Anthem.
“Roslin is just such a wonderful person,” said Amazing Grace’s friend and member, Sandy Burgess, noting her “enormous musical talents and strength of faith.”
said Burgess, who helped Stearns-Brown in Fans called him “Turkey”. “This is a wonderful story that I told her. She put her heart and soul into writing it.”
‘A celebration of diversity’
Susanna Muzin, patron of Amazing Grace, describes the book as a story of perseverance, resilience, and excellence, as well as a celebration of diversity.
“He seems like a wonderful, wonderful man – and I can personally attest, knowing his daughters, what a great father he was,” said Muzin. “Our church stands behind Roslin 100%, and he encourages her. We are a real community, and Roslin is an essential part of that community.”
And though it came two decades after her father’s death and long after his playing days, Stearnes-Brown is thrilled that pioneering African-American footballers like her father have finally been welcomed into the MLB community.
“I wish it was done for them while they were still alive,” she said, “but I’m happy now that they’re recognized as a major league.” “Dad and Double Duty are finally getting the recognition they deserve.”
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