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Sunday, May 21, 2023

Popeye Cole used speed in 10 seasons: Baseball Profiles

Popeye Cole 1990 Durham Bulls card, Cole seen holding a bat

Single-A Sumter's Popeye Cole showcased his speed in his game. His main objective, he told The Sumter Item, was making it to first.

"When I'm in the lineup, I'm probably going to be batting first or second," Cole told The Item in April 1988. "My role is to get on base, steal bases when I can and let the big guys drive me in. My biggest job is just getting on base."

Cole spoke to The Item in his second pro season. He went on to see 10 pro campaigns. He topped out at AA, and spent five of his campaigns in independent ball.

Cole's career began in 1987, signed by the Braves as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Mississippi. Cole was also credited by his given name, Robert Cole. He received the Popeye nickname due to his size as a kid.

Cole started with the Braves at rookie Idaho Falls. He saw 48 games hit .309 and stole 19 bases. He then moved to Sumter for 1988. He ended with 38 stolen bases there in 120 games and hit .252.

He played at single-A Burlington for 1989, then high-A Durham for 1990. At Durham in June 1990, Cole went 5 for 6 in a game.

"You can't dwell on it too much," Cole told The Raleigh News and Observer. "You just get on the bus and come home and try to do it again. But every hit helps; you can go 0-for-6 the next night."

Cole ended that season hitting .293, with 24 stolen bases. He then moved to AA Greenville for 1991, hitting .243 and ending his affiliated career.

Cole then returned to baseball at independent Bangor, but not until 1996. That July, he hit a key home run in a game for the club, a grand slam, The Bangor Daily News wrote.

"With the bases loaded, I was looking for him to try to groove one in there and I was looking first-pitch fastball," Cole told The Daily News.

Cole played for independent Greenville from 1997 to 1999, then ended his career with independent Jackson in 2000.

Cole later turned coach, serving as baseball coach at his old school, Meridian High School in Mississippi.

Popeye Cole 1990 Durham Bulls card, Cole seen holding a bat

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,167
Made the Majors:1,375-33.0%
Never Made Majors:2,792-67.0%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:558
10+ Seasons in the Minors:341-X

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