Papa Had Wheels

Stories of his speed on the base paths are the stuff of baseball legend. Perhaps most famously the story described by Satchel Paige that he was “so fast he could turn out the light and jump in bed before the room got dark.”

Or that he scored from first on a sacrifice bunt. Or that he was recorded as rounding the bases in 12 seconds. How pitchers feared walking him because he could often steal second and third, easily scoring on the next play.

He finished his career with a .341 average, hitting .391 in exhibitions against MLB players.

Named to the Major League Baseball All-Century team, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974. He ranked 66th on The Sporting News’ list of Baseball’s Greatest Players; one of five who played all or most of his career in the Negro leagues.

One of his teammates, Ted Page said that he was “an even better man off the field than he was on it. He was honest. He was kind. He was a clean liver. In fact, in all of the years I’ve known him, I’ve never seen him smoke, take a drink or even say one cuss word.”

One of his quotes, to me, describes the essence of being a baseball player and even a fan.

Because of baseball I smelled the rose of life. I wanted to travel, and to have nice clothes. Baseball allowed me to do all those things, and most important, during my time with the Crawfords, it allowed me to become a member of the brotherhood of friendship which will last forever.

In honor of this February’s African-American history month, we tip our caps to one of the all-time greats –  Hall of Fame center fielder in the Negro leagues from 1922 to 1950 – Mr.  James Thomas “Cool Papa” Bell.


6 thoughts on “Papa Had Wheels

  1. scontursi February 4, 2016 / 10:02 pm

    Hey, don’t miss the special on MLB Network on Buck Leonard, the all time great Negro League catcher. It should be repeated a couple of times. Nice one, Maria

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maria February 4, 2016 / 10:09 pm

      THANKS STEVE! I will definitely watch that!!!


  2. Minoring In Baseball February 4, 2016 / 1:45 pm

    I’m fairly familiar with Bell since he played many years in Detroit (I think it was the Detroit Stars?). One thing I remember reading is that he could score from second base on a sac fly. This sport certainly has the best history and characters, imo.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maria February 4, 2016 / 7:51 pm

      …I just love a good baseball nickname and “Cool Papa” is probably one of the best ever. Of course there’s also -just off the top of my head…Prince Albert, The Freak, Big Country, The Cuban Missle, Big Papi, Grandy Man, Panda, King Felix and of course, CRUSH (plus many more). I don’t hear a lot of nicknames in youth baseball but last year there was a Sandman and an AntMan. My son is “Holllywood” – because of the sunglasses. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Minoring In Baseball February 4, 2016 / 8:33 pm

        My buddy had the ‘Hollywood’ moniker back in Little League, too, due to the sunglasses, even at evening games! Fidrych as ‘The Bird’ will probably be my all time favorite.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Maria February 4, 2016 / 8:38 pm

          That’s awesome! Oh yes – even when it rains…even in the batting cages…must have sunglasses…:)

          Liked by 1 person

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