Cool Papa Bell

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.)

~ baseballrebecca

The 1936 Negro Leagues East-West Game featured Cool Papa Bell, Josh Gibson, and Satchel Paige,  among other Negro League greats



Stat-urday, 5/12/2018

Mitchellville Tigers, ca. 1948 (photo courtesy of Prince George’s County, MD)

On April 14, 2009, then-Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed a bill into law declaring the second Saturday in May to be Negro League Baseball Day. So, in honor of the day, here are some stats on the Negro Leagues in Maryland:

  • Four Negro League teams played in Maryland: (1) Baltimore Lord Baltimores, National Colored Baseball League, 1887; (2) Baltimore Black Sox, 1922-1934 (independent league, 1916-22 and 1930-31; Eastern Colored League, 1923-28; American Negro League, 1929; East-West League, 1932; Negro National League, 1933-34); (3) Baltimore Stars (independent league, 1933); and (4) Baltimore Elite Giants (Negro National League, 1938-48; Negro American League, 1949-50). In addition, several semi-pro and sandlot teams played throughout the state, such as the Mitchellville Tigers  and the Galesville Hot Sox.
  • At least 10 members of the Baltimore Black Sox were born in Maryland: Blainey Hall, Buddy Burbage, George Grayer, John Stanley, Malcolm Brown, Peter Johnson, Scrappy Brown, Stuart Jones, Tony Mahoney, and Wyman Smith.
  • The Black Sox and the Elite Giants each won two championships: 1929 and 1932 for the Black Sox and 1939 and 1949 for the Elite Giants.

Satchel_Paige_1949_BowmanTwo of the most famous Negro League players in Baltimore were Satchel Paige and Leon Day. Paige, a right-handed pitcher, had an win-loss record of 100-50 in the Negro Leagues, and 28-31 in the Major Leagues. Day, also a RHP, had a 64-29 win-loss record of 64-29 in the Negro Leagues, with an ERA of 2.98.

Happy Negro League Baseball Day!

~ baseballrebecca



Rube Foster

Rube_Foster_1924To close out African American History Month, let’s remember Rube Foster, the founder of the Negro National League. Born in 1879, Foster began his playing career with the Fort Worth Yellow Jackets in 1897. He would go on to play with the Chicago Union Giants, the Cuban X-Giants, the Philadelphia Giants, the Leland Giants, and the Chicago American Giants. in 1910, Foster became player/owner/manager of the Leland Giants, which were renamed the Chicago American Giants the next year. Below are just a few of his pitching stats from Baseball Reference.

~ baseballrebecca

Year Age Team League Lev W L ERA
1905 25 Cuban X Giants CNCS Fgn 2 2 1.85
1906 26 Fe CUGL Fgn 9 6 2.17
1907 27 Habana CUGL Fgn 5 3 2.28
1910 30 Chicago CNCS Fgn 3 1 1.86
1911 31 Fe CUNL Fgn 0 0 8.31
1914 34 Chicago American Giants INDP Non 5 4 2.48
1915 35 Chicago American Giants INDP Non 2 2 4.05
1916 36 Chicago American Giants INDP Non 1 1 1
1917 37 Chicago American Giants INDP Non 2 1 3.33
NLB (8 seasons) NLB 29 20 2.44
All Levels (9 Seasons) 29 20 2.5

More About “A Long Way from Home”

The director of “A Long Way from Home: the Untold Story of Baseball’s Desegregation” has informed me that the film will be on TV One’s On Demand channel through the end of the month. There also will be screenings at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City (on 2/25) and the San Francisco Public Library (on 2/27).

It really is an awesome documentary! You can get more info at:

Dave Winfield on the 2008 Negro Leagues Player Draft

Yesterday, I posted some information on MLB’s 2008 Negro Leagues Player Draft. Here are a few comments from Dave Winfield, courtesy of the African American Registry:


Negro Leagues Player Draft, June 5, 2008

“All of these former [Negro Leagues] players have interesting stories to tell. They didn’t have the opportunity. Now they will.” – Jimmie Lee Solomon, MLB Executive VP for Baseball Operations, 2008

Does anyone remember MLB’s Negro Leagues Player Draft, which took place on June 5, 2008? According to an article on, the draft was “a continuation of baseball’s effort to fix a historical wrong.” (Other efforts undertaken by MLB have included the induction of Negro Leaguers into the Hall of Fame in 2006 and the annual Civil Rights Game). For this “draft,” each MLB team selected a surviving former Negro Leagues player to represent all players who were denied the opportunity to play Major League Baseball.

Interestingly, it took a while to even find any information on this event, which coincided with MLB’s First-Player Draft in 2008. (Not even a Wikipedia page!) I pieced together who was selected in this draft from I variety of sources until eventually I found one article that listed all of the players selected. I never did found a player for the St. Louis Cardinals.

This list of “drafted” players appears below. If anyone has anymore insights or information, please share!

~ baseballrebecca

Player Drafted By
Bob Mitchell Arizona Diamondbacks
James “Red” Moore Atlanta Braves
Bert Simmons Baltimore Orioles
Jim Colzie Boston Red Sox
Walter Owens Chicago Cubs
Hank Presswood Chicago White Sox
Charlie Davis Cincinnati Reds
Otha “Li’l Catch” Bailey Cleveland Indians
Mack Pride, Jr. Colorado Rockies
Cecil Kaiser Detroit Tigers
Enrique Maroto Florida Marlins
Bill Blair Houston Astros
Ulysses Hollimon Kansas City Royals
Neale “Bobo” Henderson Los Angeles Angels
Andrew Porter Los Angeles Dodgers
Joe Scott Milwaukee Brewers
Bill “Lefty” Bell Minnesota Twins
Robert Scott New York Mets
Emilio “Millito” Navarro New York Yankees
Irvin Castille Oakland Athletics
Mahlon Duckett Philadelphia Phillies
James Tillman Pittsburgh Pirates
Walter McCoy San Diego Padres
Carlos Manuel Santiago San Francisco Giants
John “Mule” Miles Seattle Mariners
Walter Lee Gibbons Tampa Bay Rays
Charley Pride Texas Rangers
Harold Gould Toronto Blue Jays
Mamie “Peanut” Johnson Washington Nationals






The Donaldson Project

DonaldsonJohn01A baseball historian in Minnesota heard stories of baseball legend. After visiting the local historical society in Bertha, MN, that historian, Pete Groton, found proof of the player’s popularity in an advertisement from around the 1920s that read: “John Donaldson; Greatest Colored Pitcher in the World.” In order to find more information on Donaldson, Groton founded the Donaldson Network of researchers. By 2008, there was a network of about 500 research across the country digging through newspapers, archives, and old photos to recreate Donaldson’s career. According to the Network’s website:

“Our wish is that Mr. Donaldson will someday be properly inducted (and not “allowed”) into the Baseball Hall of Fame, but that can’t be our final goal. The real goal must be to unearth as much information about Donaldson, and then try to tell the story from there. Each box score and article turn over a new page, and often open up another missing day (or, as we’ve found, dozens of missing days). It would be impossible for any one person to finish this task, alone, in one lifetime.”

The Donaldson Network received the John Coates Next Generation Award for exemplary research from SABR’s Negro Leagues Committee in 2008. In 2011, Pete Groton was honored in 2011 by the Society of American Baseball Research Negro Leagues Committee with the Tweed Webb Lifetime Achievement Award for his efforts. They also have a pretty cool store on Zazzle.

~ baseballrebecca