Roussey: Playing it cool with Cool Papa Bell

From Ken Roussey at on July 20, 2015:

James Thomas Bell, better known by his nickname “Cool Papa,” confounded opponents in the Negro Leagues with his ability to reach base. However, it only got worse for the opposition from there, because it was almost a given that Bell would steal both second and third as long as they were open for the taking. Claiming to have once been clocked circling the bases in 12 seconds flat, Cool Papa Bell may be the fastest ball player of all time.

This photo shows the Homestead Grays’ speedster sliding into third during the first game of a double-header against the Baltimore Elite Giants at Griffith Stadium in Washington on May 16, 1943. The contest, which was the inaugural game of the 1943 Negro National League season, was played before a crowd of approximately 10,000. The Grays’, coming fresh off a Negro National League title the previous year, won both games of the opening day double-header and later went on to win their first Negro World Series Championship in 1943.

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Originally published: July 20, 2015. Last Updated: July 20, 2015.