This week we introduce you to the Negro League Centennial Team (1920 – 2020) which consists of 30 of the greatest African-American and Cuban players from 1895 – 1947.
Today is one of two releases coming in March – Cool Papa Bell showing off his St. Louis Stars.
By Bill Ladson MLB.com @ladsonbill24
Feb. 4th, 2016
“The tale has been told many times about James "Cool Papa" Bell's speed. You know, the one about him being so fast he could turn off the light switch in his bedroom and be in bed before the room got dark.
"The old-timers in the Negro Leagues said if he bunted the ball and it bounced twice, forget about it," Negro Leagues Museum president Bob Kendrick said. "The [defenders] had no chance to get him. So the legendary speed is what people marvel at about Cool Papa Bell. He used that speed to make himself a superior defensive center fielder."…
…Bell stole 175 bases in 200 games and was a wizard in center field due in large part to his sprinter-like speed. As a matter of fact, Olympic speedster Jesse Owens refused to race him, according to Kendrick. But Bell was more than a speedster. He was one of the best hitters in Negro League history, displaying brilliant bat control during his 21-year career with the St. Louis Stars, Pittsburgh Crawfords and Homestead Grays.
According to historian James A. Riley, Bell had a batting average of .319 or better with the Stars, .317 or better with the Crawfords and .302 or better with the Grays.”
Cool Papa Bell is celebrated in Jackson, MS on this street sign and at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. Photos Courtesy of Bill Hetrick.
About the Bobblehead:
Each individual will be depicted on a baseball-shaped base with replica of Kansas City’s Paseo YMCA, the site where the Negro National League was organized on February 13, 1920.
The bobbleheads are officially licensed by the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and approved by the families when applicable.
- An average of two bobbleheads per month will be released from January 2019 through February 2020
- Bobbleheads are high quality and produced by the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum
- Individually numbered to only 2,020