This Day In Baseball History: February 13th
On this day in 1974, the Special Committee on the Negro Leagues named James Bell to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. James Thomas "Cool Papa" Bell was a legend in the Negro Leagues, known for his incredible speed both on the bases and in the outfield. His incredible athleticism and record-breaking achievements have earned him a well-deserved place in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Bell was born on May 17, 1903, in Starkville, Mississippi. Despite growing up in poverty and facing racial discrimination, he became one of the greatest players of his era. He began his baseball career with the St. Louis Stars in 1922 and went on to play for several other teams in the Negro Leagues, including the Homestead Grays.
What set Bell apart from other players was his incredible speed. He was so fast that legends about him have become part of baseball folklore. One famous story tells of how he once scored from first base on a sacrifice bunt. Another story says that he could turn off the light and get into bed before the room was dark. Although a fun tale, it was more than likely a result of the electrical at the below-average motels they were forced to stay at.
In addition to his speed, Bell was a talented outfielder and leadoff hitter. He was a key player on several championship teams, including the Homestead Grays and the Kansas City Monarchs. Over the course of his career, he was a three-time batting champion and was widely regarded as one of the best players in the Negro Leagues.
Despite his many achievements, Bell was not elected to the Hall of Fame until 1974, long after his playing days were over. This was partly due to the fact that the Negro Leagues were not recognized as a major league, and many of the records and statistics of their players were not well documented.
Today, Cool Papa Bell is remembered as one of the greatest players of the Negro Leagues, and a true trailblazer for African American athletes. His election to the Hall of Fame was a long-overdue recognition of his talent and contributions to the game of baseball. Below are some of the statistics we have on him.
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