Saturday, January 1, 2011

Cool Papa Bell hit 3 inside-the-park homers in one game in Cuba

Jan. 1: On this day in 1929, James "Cool Papa" Bell became the first player to hit three home runs in a game in the Cuban League.

But the real distinction of Bell's feat is that all three were inside the park, according to Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History, 1878-1961.

Bell -- so fast that Satchel Paige would say, "he could turn off a light switch and jump into bed before the room got dark." -- hit his three inside-the-park homers at the spacious Aida Park in Cienfuegos, Cuba against Oscar Levis, Cliff "Campanita" Bell and Martin Dihigo.

Some sources, such as Smoke: The Romance and Lore of Cuban Baseball place Bell's feat on Jan. 2 rather than New Year's Day.

Bell (shown in his Cienfuegos uniform in this Negro Leagues Baseball Museum's eMuseum photo), played five seasons in Cuba between 1928-41, four with Cienfuegos.

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