Monday, May 1, 2017


Sooner or later, ANY ongoing discussion about Negro League legends comes to the one and only James “Cool Papa” Bell, one of the greatest players of all-time regardless of league:

One of the most popular players of the Negro Leagues, Bell put in over 20 years, starting out with the St. Louis Stars in 1922, for whom he played through the 1931 season, before playing for various other teams including the Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords.
An 8-time all-star, he finished with a Negro League career batting average of .316, yet he originally came up as a pitcher!
As a matter of fact the genesis of his all-too-familiar nickname came about because of a strikeout against legend Oscar Charleston early in Bell’s career.
But once he was switched to the outfield, it was ON!
Perhaps the fastest player to ever run the base-paths, the anecdotes and legendary stories of his speed are endless.
One of my favorites:
“Bell was so fast he could turn off the light and be under the covers before the room got dark.”- Satchel Paige.
Even at the age of 43, Bell was raking it, as evidenced by his .402 batting average over 95 games for the Homestead Grays in 1946! The year before? A cool .380!
A great player, and from everything I have read from his contemporaries, a great man.

1 comment:

  1. Whenever Buck O'Neil was asked "How fast was Cool Papa Bell?", his answer was "Faster than that." Which I've always taken to mean that whatever stories you've heard about him, like Paige's quote (which is great), the reality still exceeding what you're picturing.

    Such a shame we don't have more records and film of these players, and of course even more a shame that they never got the opportunity to play in the major leagues, and that they so often weren't treated with the respect they deserved.



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