Cool Papa’s Bell Daughter Gets Hot Under The Collar

Updated: October 25, 2006


Connie Brooks

The Late James Bell’s

70 year old daughter is MAD at

the TOPPS Card Company

she claims for


her Father

There are TWO sides to this case. There always are. Is a seemingly innocuous reference on a recent Topps’ card “honoring” Cool Papa an innocent remark or a horrific diabolic means of insulting a Black player, the Negro Leagues and all African Americans. His daughter has NO doubts. And she has gone to Federal Court in Manhattan suing TOPPS for Big Bucks.

Her is the Controversy

It is all about how Bell got his nickname “Cool Papa.” In its recent baseball card Topps claims it is simply because he fell asleep right before a game in which he was scheduled to pitch. That makes Daughter Connie Brooks BURN because of what she contends it implies ……..

…. that maybe Bell was a drunkard or a drug addict, or if not that Negro League players did not take part in serious baseball that they would fall asleep just before a game. Now on the surface of it you might say WHAT.

But this is the Real World where African Americans and African Americans in Sports are insulted in all sorts of way. Many of them subtle hiding behind seemingly innocent matters. At the TOP of that pile for example the supposed “fact” that the lack of Black owners, executives, umpires and now players in Baseball has nothing at all to do with Racism. It just happens. It’s no one’s fault.

Daughter Connie Brooks explains …..

“In his life he did not smoke or drink, but they take a Negro Leaguer and think it’s okay to make him a little buffoonish, a little clownish, and suggest that he’s nodding off. That’s an insult to a man’s legacy.” She continued “Did Topps put that bogus lie on their sports cards to amuse people for business gain or to belittle ‘Cool Papa’ because he played in the Negro League ?”

There is NO doubt how her father got his Nick Name according to Brooks. According to her source Professor Charles Bolton of the University of North Carolina, “He was put in a tight situation as a rookie and the manager told him not to worry about it,” He went in and mowed them all down and he was real cool about it. He just wouldn’t get rattled at all.”

And this is how her Father became

” Cool Papa ” Bell

Claudette Burke, a researcher at the National Baseball Hall of Fame has another version. She notes the reference book at Cooperstown has this reference to how Bell got his name It tell of how ” Bell, traveling on a Pullman to Detroit, was unexcitable when told he would pitch the upcoming game. In that telling, Bell was awoken from a nap to hear the news. That’s how he got his name.

The Late James Bell died in 1991

and left no personal record of

how he got his Nick Name

Now his Daughter is going to Bat in a big way in Court. To protect his Legacy in her view. Go for it Connie Brooks. But she may have on BIG problem bringing a Defamation Suite on behalf of her Father. Legally you can’t Defame the Dead. She may be advised to amend her Complaint that Topps cannot use Bell’s likeness without the permission of his estate. A Copyright issue.

Either way Brooks is seeking unspecified monetary damages, and for Topps to find and retrieve then destroy all the Offending Cards, and finally to print ads in major newspapers showing Bell’s likeness and his “true” biography and repeat those ads over and over for 6 years.

For its part, even if Brooks legal case may be weak, in the Court of African American Public Opinion she may do substantially better. Topps has responded offering Brooks $35,000 and to produce with her cooperation a new “Cool Papa” Bell Baseball Card to his Daughter’s liking for distribution.

So far it seems

Connie Brooks is not Buying

Topps Offer she wants

Her Day in Court

for Her Father



Our acknowledgment to the small daily The New York Sun and staff reporter Joseph Goldstein for bringing this case to light as a Front Page story in its Tuesday, October 24, 2006, issue

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