A Tennessee native, Turkey Stearnes entered professional baseball with the Montgomery Grey Sox of the Negro Southern League in 1921. A fleet-footed power hitter with an unusual batting style, Stearnes demonstrated his hitting prowess early and was signed by the Detroit Stars of the Negro National League in 1923.
Through the 1920s Stearnes compiled a .360+ batting average with the Stars, winning the league batting title four times. But, Stearnes' success was not entirely rested upon his hitting. He was an excellent outfielder with exceptional range and a strong arm.
In 1932 Stearnes joined the Chicago American Giants squad where his performance earned him appearances in four East-West All-Star games, including the inaugural all-star game in 1933. Leaving Chicago in 1936 to play with the Philadelphia Stars, Stearnes turned in a .350+ season batting average. Again with the Detroit Stars in 1937 he earned another All-Star game appearance and hit for an incredible .383 average.
Former teammate, Jimmie Crutchfield, described Stearnes as "quicky-jerky sort of guy who could hit the ball a mile. Turkey had a batting stance that you'd swear couldn't let anybody hit a baseball at all. He'd stand up there looking like he was off balance. But, it was natural for him to stand that way, and you couldn't criticize him for it when he was hitting everything they threw at him!"
Stearnes concluded his career with various teams during the 1938-40 seasons. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall Of Fame in 2000.