Notable Alumni: Norman “Turkey” Stearnes, Bruce Petway, Pete Hill and Andy Cooper
A founding member of the Negro National League, the Detroit Stars immediately established themselves as one of the league’s best. Finishing behind only the Chicago American Giants during the inaugural 1920 season, the Stars were built of just that, stars. Center fielder Jimmy Lyons would hit .379 that year, and he was supplemented by prominent established black players like catcher Bruce Petway and fellow outfielder Pete Hill.
Also on that 1920 team was southpaw Andy Cooper, who would go on to become one of the best pitchers in Negro League history and eventually achieve enshrinement in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Boasting over 120 Negro League wins and a career winning percentage of .643, his numbers speak for themselves. His plaque in Cooperstown described him as a "superb left-handed control pitcher whose repertoire included a wide array of pitches and speeds which confused hitters for two decades.” Though Cooper broke in with that historic 1920 Detroit Stars team, arguably the most iconic Stars player would not arrive in Detroit for a few more years.
Described as a five-tool player, Norman “Turkey” Stearnes debuted for the Stars during the 1923 season, and like Cooper, he played his way into the Hall of Fame. Leading the league in home runs six times throughout his career, and achieving a batting average that surpassed .350 10 times as well, Stearnes earned recognition as one of the league’s most renowned hitters. Negro League pitcher Satchel Paige put it best when he simply called Stearnes, “one of the greatest hitters we ever had.”
The Stars never did win a Negro League title or World Series championship, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t shine.