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Cool Papa Bell
May 17, 1903–March 7, 1991


Perhaps the fastest man to ever play baseball, Cool Papa Bell could hit, not only for average,but with considerable power.  An artist in the outfield, Bell distracted opposing pitchers from Pittsburgh to Santo Domingo with his uncanny base-running. Clocked circling the basepaths in 12 seconds flat, Bell was a lifetime .343 hitter, 7th all-time in Negro League homeruns, and batted over .400 several times. He hit .395 against white big leaguers and in 1940, won the Triple Crown in Mexico, leading the circuit in homeruns and RBIs along with his league-leading .437 batting average.


The Starkville, MI native worked at a creamery and played semi-pro ball before joining the Negro Leagues in 1922.  He played and managed in Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and the United States until retiring in 1950. Tales about his speed have become legendary, the residue of fans dazzled by his instinctive flair for the game. As Satchel Paige famously quipped, “That man was so fast he could turn out the light and be in bed before the room got dark.”  Retiring from baseball in 1951, Bell scouted for the St. Louis Browns and worked as a guard at City Hall in St. Louis. Inducted Hall of Fame: 1974.

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