Other Free Encyclopedias » Famous Sports Stars » Baseball » James "Cool Papa" Bell Biography - Chronology, Awards And Accomplishments, "plays For Love Of Game", Inducted Into Hall Of Fame

James "Cool Papa" Bell - "plays For Love Of Game"

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Bell played baseball almost continuously for thirty-four years, playing in both summer leagues in the United States and winter leagues in California, Cuba, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. "It was good times," Bell recalled to Fallstrom. "I just played for the love of the game. I didn't intend to play that long, it just happened." When the NNL fell prey to the Great Depression, Bell joined the Detroit Wolves, an East-West League team, but the team disbanded before the season was over. Bell then played the remainder of the season with the St. Louis Monarchs and played winter ball in Mexico in 1933. The lure of Mexico was strong for several reasons. Though Bell had been paid $90 per month to play for the St. Louis Stars, playing south of the border was even better. He played winter baseball in Cuba from 1928 to 1930, the Dominican Republic in 1937, and in Mexico from 1938 to 1941. Not only did Bell earn a high of $450 per month touring Mexico with the Tampico, Torreon, Veracruz, and Monterrey clubs, he received the respect that black players lacked in the United States. In Cuba, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic, dark-skinned and light-skinned players played on the same teams and against other "integrated teams." It was the norm, as were good accommodations and interracial socializing. "Everyone was the same down there. We could go in any restaurant, stay in hotels, and oh, the fans? They loved us," Bell remarked in Black Diamond: The Story of the Negro Baseball Leagues, by Patricia C. McKissack and Frederick McKissack, Jr. Blacks also got the chance to measure their skills against those of white players when exhibition teams of players from the Major Leagues, often organized by star players, came south. Bell accumulated impressive statistics in the Latin American leagues as well. According to Negro League player Buck Leonard, as quoted in Black Diamond, "He was a hero down there. He did so well, a lot of the boys thought they'd take a look for themselves."

When Bell came back to the United Sates in 1942 he joined the Chicago American Giants. The following year he began a rewarding stint with the Homestead Grays. With Bell in centerfield, the Grays twice won the World Series championship against the Birmingham Black Barons, in 1943 and 1944. At age forty-three, Bell retired from professional baseball. For a short time he played semiprofessional baseball with the independent Detroit Senators. Then in 1948 he hired on to coach the B team of the Kansas City Monarchs (also called the Kansas City Stars or Travelers). Thus Bell passed on his knowledge to future generations of players, some of whom (such as Ernie Banks) would eventually join integrated Major League Baseball teams after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947.

James "Cool Papa" Bell - Inducted Into Hall Of Fame [next] [back] James "Cool Papa" Bell - Awards And Accomplishments

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