The Birth of the Cool Papa Bell Legend
Here is Buck Leonard, about five years before he died, relating to Wilt Browning of the Greensboro News & Record the story of the birth of the legend that Cool Papa Bell was fast enough to turn out the light and get in bed before the room got dark:
“Cool and I roomed together for five years with the old Grays. The night it happened, I had already gotten into my bed and Cool had stayed up a while.
“Finally, Cool went to the light switch to turn out the light and go to bed himself. He flicked the switch and the light wouldn’t go out. He flicked it back and forth several times and couldn’t get the light to go out. Had a short or something in the switch.
“Cool got tired of trying and decided he’d just have to leave the light on all night. He went to bed and just about the time he was pulling the covers up over his head the light went out all by itself.
“Well, Cool happened to mention what happened to Satchel the next day and Satchel just grinned. ‘Shaaah, Cool, you must be the fastest man alive,’ Satchel told Cool. ‘You’re so fast you can turn out the light and get in bed before the room gets dark.’
“And that’s how it happened.”
Leonard added: “They tell the story about Cool going from first to third on an infield single, too. And that happened, too. Somebody hit this line drive right back at the pitcher’s feet so hard that the infielders broke back on the ball like it was going all the way through. But the ball hit the pitching rubber and the pitcher couldn’t find it. Cool was going at first and by the time the ball came down back of the mound, Cool was standing on third.”