Today marks Cool Papa Bell’s 115th birthday. James Thomas Bell was born on May 18, 1903, in Starkville, Mississippi. He spent most of his 24 year baseball career in the Negro Leagues, although he spent some time playing in the Dominican Republic and Mexico.
Satchel Paige, a teammate of Bell’s, once famously said, “Cool was so fast, he could turn out the light and jump in bed before it got dark.” (This is sometimes attributed to Josh Gibson.)
Last May, former MLB player Felix Mantilla received an honorary doctorate degree from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Mantilla played for the Milwaukee Braves (1956-61), New York Mets (1962), Boston Red Sox (1963-65), and Houston Astros (1966). Originally from Puerto Rico, Mantilla resides in Wisconsin. Check out his story below:
It’s that time of year when students get ready to graduate and move on to the next phase of their lives. At colleges and universities, it has become customary to award honorary degrees to individuals who have made great contributions to a particular field or to society as a whole.
In 1957, both Jackie Robinson and Martin Luther King, Jr., were awarded honorary degrees from Howard University. Robinson also earned honorary degrees from the University of Maryland, Bethune-Cookman University, Franklin Pierce College, Sacred Heart University, and Pace University.
Last week the world lost Sachio Kinugasa, who passed away on April 23 at the age of 71. Kinugasa was the Japanese Iron Man who broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played record in 1987. Ultimately, he would play 2,215 consecutive games.
Kinugasa was born in 1947 in the Higashiyama Ward in Japan. He made his Japanese baseball debut on May 16, 1965, at the age of 18. He played for the Hiroshima Carp for his entire 23-year career and set the Japanese record for consecutive games played on August 2, 1980, after playing his 1,247th consecutive game. This earned him the nickname Tetsujin, (Japanese for Iron Man) after the robot Tetsujin 28 of Japanese Manga (known as “Gigantor” in the United States).
In 1996, Kinugasa’s consecutive games record was broken by Cal Ripken, Jr., who had broken Lou Gehrig’s record of 2,130 consecutive MLB games the previous year. Cal would go on to play in 2,632 consecutive games – 417 more than Kinugasa. (Cal ended his streak voluntarily in 1998.) Kinugasa retired in 1987 and went on to become a baseball commentator. He was inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996. After meeting Cal Ripken during Ripken’s streak, Kinugasa and Ripken maintained their friendship, even co-hosting youth clinics in Kyoto as part of Ripken’s work as a U.S. Public Diplomacy Envoy.
Last week, upon hearing of Kingasa’s death, Cal stated: “I am very saddened by the news of Sachio Kinugasa’s passing. He and I shared an approach to the game we love, but for me, the friendship we shared was so much more valuable. Mr. Kinugasa was a great man and I was honored to call him my friend and the respect I have for him is immense. My condolences and thoughts are with his family, friends, and the wonderful baseball fans throughout Japan.”
Rest in peace, Sachio.
Cal shares his condolences after the tragic loss of our friend, Sachio Kinugasa. His legacy will never be forgotten and we're grateful for the time he spent with our coaches and players. pic.twitter.com/gbqaFZ4t7t
Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you Woo, woo, woo What’s that you say, Mrs. Robinson? Joltin’ Joe has left and gone away
Fifty years ago today, Simon & Garfunkel’s song, “Mrs. Robinson,” debuted on the Billboard charts. The iconic lyrics referencing Joe DiMaggio have been much discussed. In fact, after DiMaggio’s death in 1999, Paul Simon wrote about the meaning of the lyrics and the impact of DiMaggio on the nation. Simon’s words still ring true today: “In these days of Presidential transgressions and apologies and prime-time interviews about private sexual matters, we grieve for Joe DiMaggio and mourn the loss of his grace and dignity, his fierce sense of privacy, his fidelity to the memory of his wife and the power of his silence.”