George Bell (outfielder)
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Bell playing for the Blue Jays in 1985
October 21, 1959 |
San Pedro de Macorís, Dominican Republic
|Batted: Right||Threw: Right|
|April 9, 1981 for the Toronto Blue Jays|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 2, 1993 for the Chicago White Sox|
|Runs batted in||1,002|
|Career highlights and awards|
Jorge Antonio Bell Mathey (born October 21, 1959), better known as George Bell, is a former left fielder and American League MVP in Major League Baseball who played in 12 seasons for the Toronto Blue Jays (1981, 1983–1990), Chicago Cubs (1991) and Chicago White Sox (1992–1993). Bell batted and threw right-handed.
Originally signed by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1978, Bell was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1980 Rule 5 draft. Bell was discovered in the Dominican Republic by Blue Jays scout Epy Guerrero. His first season as a regular was in 1984, when he teamed with Lloyd Moseby and Jesse Barfield to form a very successful outfield for the Blue Jays. That outfield, along with some solid starting pitching, led the Blue Jays to their first-ever American League East division title in 1985. Bell caught a fly ball, off the bat of Ron Hassey, for the final out in the 5–1 victory over the New York Yankees on October 5, clinching the division title for the Blue Jays. Despite Bell's .321 average in the ALCS, they lost the series to the Kansas City Royals.
His best season came in 1987, as he led the Blue Jays in a stirring race for the division title, ultimately falling two games short of the Detroit Tigers. Bell finished with a .308 BA, .352 OBP, .608 SLG, 111 R, 47 HR and 134 RBI. He was awarded the American League MVP award that year.
On April 4, 1988, Bell became the first player in Major League history to hit three home runs on an opening day (all of them coming off of Bret Saberhagen), but the rest of the year was not up to his standard of the past few years, as he had some conflicts with Blue Jays manager Jimy Williams, who wanted Bell to become the Jays' full-time designated hitter.
Bell had a bounce-back year in 1989, posting a .297 average, 18 HR and 104 RBI, helping the Blue Jays win their second division title. However, in the ALCS, he only hit .200 with one home run, as they lost the series to the Oakland Athletics. Bell became a free agent after the 1990 season and signed with the Cubs. After one year with the Cubs, he was traded across town to the White Sox for Sammy Sosa and Ken Patterson.
He played two years with the White Sox, recording 25 HR and 112 RBI in 1992. In 1993, he suffered a poor season, in part due to a knee injury. He was benched in the ALCS against his former team, the Blue Jays, and was released at the end of the season, after which he announced his retirement.
Bell was a powerful free-swinger, usually posting a good slugging percentage but a poor on-base percentage. He was known as a poor defensive player, and played mainly as a designated hitter during the last two years of his career. Despite his success on the field, Bell had a love-hate relationship with the fans and media in Toronto, particularly in his later years as his poor defense came to overshadow his bat. After being booed for an error, he told the media that the fans could "kiss my purple butt." The next day a sign appeared in left field "George, we are behind you all the way." Bell's difficult relationship with the Toronto sports media was exacerbated by his reluctance to do interviews during his early years with the Blue Jays, likely because of his then-discomfort with the English language. Towards the end of his time in Toronto, however, Bell became much more approachable to the media, who in turn began to soften their often harsh criticisms of his play and attitude.
On May 28, 1989, while with the Blue Jays, Bell hit a walk-off home run in a 7–5 victory over the Chicago White Sox in the final Major League game played at Exhibition Stadium. Bell also homered in the first game at the Blue Jays' new park, the SkyDome (now the Rogers Centre), on June 5, eight days later.
George Bell is currently enshrined in the upper deck of the Rogers Centre's Level of Excellence, devoted to players and personnel who have made a significant impact as members of the Toronto Blue Jays. He shares the honor with Tony Fernández, Joe Carter, Cito Gaston, Pat Gillick, Dave Stieb, Tom Cheek, Roberto Alomar, Carlos Delgado and Paul Beeston.
Bell has four children (Dean, Shadelyn, Michael, and Brainel) with Melida Bell. He is the older brother of former major leaguer Juan Bell.
- List of top 300 Major League Baseball home run hitters
- Players from Dominican Republic in MLB
- List of Major League Baseball players with 1000 RBIs
- List of Major League Baseball RBI champions
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)