Facebook Twitter

CON MEN SWINDLE `PAPA BELL’ OUT OF MEMORABILIA

SHARE CON MEN SWINDLE `PAPA BELL’ OUT OF MEMORABILIA

Two con men swindled Baseball Hall of Famer James "Cool Papa" Bell out of baseball memorabilia valued at a quarter of a million dollars, according to a published report.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch said in a copyright story Friday that the men, using a combination of slick talk and intimidation, hauled away uniforms, gloves, balls, bats, photographs and other items from steamer trunks belonging to Bell, 86.Authorities said the men made four trips last month to Bell's home on the street that bears his name - "Cool Papa Bell Avenue" - in north St. Louis. Bell takes heart medication and is blind in one eye due to glaucoma and said he was not up to resisting.

Authorities believe that one of the men deals in baseball memorabilia in Pennsylvania. None of Bell's property has been recovered and no charges have been filed, but police said that charges are expected against at least one man from New Castle, Pa.

Bell played 27 seasons in the Negro Leagues in the 1920s, 30s and 40s. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1974.

Police said the two men first visited Bell about March 22, saying they were involved with baseball memorabilia. Bell gave the men some baseballs and photographs free and signed several bats and other items.

On the fourth visit, March 25, the men removed several items from steamer trunks without the Bells' permission, police said. The Bells said they had been afraid of the men, police said.

"They took whatever they wanted," Bell said Thursday. "There was no way we could stop them."

The Bells also said the men had Bell sign a letter authorizing delivery of two dozen Louisville Slugger bats with Bell's signature to one of the men in Pennsylvania.