Cool Papa Bell: Speeding through three decades


As we head into the last days of 2020, I thought I’d share some of the drawings I did for my ill-fated Negro League Card Set. The bios will be bite-sized as it is taken from the text I wrote for the backs of the cards. I hope you enjoy these and I wish you and your families Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and the very best in the New Year!




Bell earned his nickname as a teenage pitcher in St. Louis where his unflappable demeanor on the mound caused his teammates to say he was “one cool papa!” He soon switched to centerfield where he could fully utilize his blinding speed to make plays that average outfielders could not. He was Blackball’s greatest base stealer, renowned for once going from first to home on a sacrifice bunt. Olympic great Jesse Owens refused to race against Bell, and at one point he was said to have circled the bases in a record-setting 12 seconds, though this has never been thoroughly proven. At the plate he consistently hit over .300 and played at the Negro League’s highest level well past the age of forty. Bell’s clean-living enabled him to remain a star for more than three decades, and his kindness helped inspire many youngsters to realize their dream of becoming a professional ballplayer. In 1974 he became the fifth Negro Leagues player to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.