Jackson, French Camp, CA
Subj: Simply the best
In your opinion, who is the fastest player in baseball history?
My vote goes to James “Cool Papa” Bell, a gifted outfielder who starred in the Negro Leagues from 1922 until 1946. Although most of his statistics have been lost to time, Bell claimed he once stole 175 bases in a single season, which would make him the most prolific base stealer in the history of the game. Bell was also famous among his contemporaries for frequently stealing two bases on a single pitch and he was said to be capable of running around the diamond in 12 seconds flat. By comparison, a modern-day speedster like Ichiro Suzuki has been clocked at 15 seconds. Former teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Satchel Paige may have put it best when he surmised "If Cool Papa had known about colleges or if colleges had known about Cool Papa, Jesse Owens would have looked like he was walking." That’s high praise indeed from a man who knew a thing or two about the game. Although Bell never had the opportunity to play in the Major Leagues he was instrumental in helping fellow Negro League stars Jackie Robinson and Monte Irvin break baseball’s notorious color line.