Bell, Cool Papa

Bell, Cool Papa (James Thomas Bell), 1903–91, African-American baseball player, b. Starkville, Miss. A centerfielder and switch hitter as well as one of the fastest baserunners in history, he played for the Negro National League's St. Louis Stars (1922–31), Detroit Wolves and Kansas City Monarchs (1932), and Pittsburgh Crawfords (1933–37), where he teamed with Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson. When the Crawfords' owner failed to pay their salaries, Bell and others left to play in the Dominican Republic and then Mexico, where in 1940 he won the Mexican League triple crown, hitting .437 with 12 home runs and 79 runs batted in. Bell subseqently played for the Chicago American Giants and Memphis Red Sox (1942), Homestead Grays (1943–46), Detroit Stars (1947), and Kansas City Stars, a Monarchs' farm team he also managed (1948–50). He is credited with a lifetime batting average of around .340 and hitting over .400 several times. He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974.

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