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 - Inducted Into Hall Of Fame

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After retiring from baseball, Bell received offers to play with Major League teams, but he declined them. "I got letters from everybody, every team," Bell told Associated Press reporter R.B. Fallstrom. "I said, 'I'm through.' I broke every record there was and I still could hit but my legs were gone. I used them up." Bell worked at St. Louis City Hall as a custodian and security guard for twenty-one years and he and his wife lived on Cool Papa Bell Avenue in north St. Louis for more than thirty-five years. There the Bells kept a collection of Negro league memorabilia and Cool Papa was happy to regale visitors with stories of old-time baseball. In 1974 Bell was inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, one of the first players to be so honored in a belated effort to recognize the ability of deserving Negro league players. "Contemporaries rated him the fastest man on the base paths," reads Bell's plaque in the Hall of Fame. Indeed. Bell once explained that in a match-up against Olympic sprinter Jesse Owens, Owens could win the straight one-hundred yard dash, but it was he, Bell, who was the faster rounding the bases. Once the two sprinters were supposed to race between games of a doubleheader in Cleveland, Ohio, but when the time came, Owens declined. "He said he left his track shoes at home," Bell said in a video clip at the Major League Baseball Web site. "I didn't have any track shoes." When Bell learned that he was to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, he said that his election was his highest honor, but his biggest thrill "was when they opened the door in the majors to black players," wrote Robert McG. Thomas, Jr. of the New York Times.

Career Statistics

Yr Team Avg GP AB H 2B 3B HR SB
CHI: Chicago Giants; DET: Detroit Wolves; KC: Kansas City Monarchs; PIT: Pittsburgh Crawfords; STL: St. Louis Stars; WAS: Washington Homestead Grays.
1922 STL .417 22 60 25 3 1 3 0
1923 STL .297 34 74 22 5 1 1 0
1924 STL .310 59 216 67 15 1 0 9
1925 STL .354 89 362 128 29 7 11 24
1926 STL .362 85 370 134 24 7 15 23
1927 STL .319 93 401 128 18 3 5 13
1928 STL .332 72 310 103 16 6 4 7
1929 STL .312 89 359 112 25 6 4 28
1930 STL .332 62 264 93 17 6 7 15
1931 STL .322 17 59 19 0 1 0 0
1932 DET/KC .384 37 138 53 7 3 2 3
1933 PIT .299 37 137 41 6 6 1 6
1934 PIT .317 50 199 63 4 1 1 8
1935 PIT .341 53 214 73 7 8 1 4
1936 PIT .268 21 82 22 1 1 0 1
1942 CHI .370 14 73 27 3 0 0 0
1943 WAS .356 44 163 58 4 4 0 10
1944 WAS .379 51 206 78 10 2 1 10
1945 WAS .298 48 188 56 8 3 1 10
1946 WAS .429 25 77 33 1 1 0 2
TOTAL .338 1002 3952 1335 203 68 56 173

In his later years, Bell suffered from glaucoma. Clara preceded him in death on January 20, 1991, and Bell suffered a heart attack in February and passed away at University Hospital in St. Louis on March 7. He was interred at St. Peter's Cemetery in St. Louis. Yet Bell's feats linger still. In 1996, to commemorate the seventy-fifth anniversary of Negro league baseball, Bell and two other Hall of Fame players from the Negro leagues were featured on limited edition boxes of Wheaties cereal and on "historic" baseball trading cards. Many baseball fans were pleased to see even such late recognition. For his part, the unassuming Bell had simply played the game he loved within the confines society placed on him. "When I was young, all I wanted to do was play," Bell is quoted as saying by Dixon. "And, thank the Lord, I got the chance to play for half my life, even if it wasn't in the majors. … I didn't think about major league baseball. It wasn't just baseball then; it was everywhere. I don't feel regrets. That's how it was when I was born. I had to live in that time."

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum Legacy Awards

In 2001, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) established the Legacy Awards, to recognize and honor the best Major League baseball players, managers and executives with awards given in the name and spirit of Negro Leagues legends. "The Legacy Awards were created by the Museum to pay homage to America's unsung heroes and to insure that their contributions to the game of baseball and the advancement of American society are never lost," said Bob Kendrick, the NLBM's director of marketing, on MLB.com.

The Legacy Awards include the Satchel Paige Award (presented to the pitchers of the year), the Josh Gibson award (presented to the home run leaders), the Cool Papa Bell Award (presented to the stolen base leaders), the Buck Leonard Award (presented to the batting champions), the Oscar Charleston Award (presented to the most valuable players), the Andrew "Rube" Foster Award (presented to the executives of the year), the C.I. Taylor Award (presented to the managers of the year), the Larry Doby Award (presented to the rookies of the year), the Hilton Smith Award (presented to the relievers of the year), the Jackie Robinson Lifetime Achievement Award (presented to an individual for career excellence in the face of adversity), and the John "Buck" O'Neil Award (presented to a local or national corporate/private philanthropist for outstanding support of the museum). Players from both the National League and the American League are honored in each category.

Past recipients of the Legacy Awards include Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens (Satchel Paige Award), Sammy Sosa (Josh Gibson Award), Ichiro Suzuki and Luis Castillo (Cool Papa Bell Award), Larry Walker (Buck Leonard Award), Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds (Oscar Charleston Award), John Schuerholz (Andrew "Rube" Foster Award), Tony LaRussa (C.I. Taylor Award), and Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson (Jackie Robinson Award).

James "Cool Papa" Bell - Career Statistics [next] [back] James "Cool Papa" Bell - "plays For Love Of Game"

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