|A power-laden outfielder during the 1950s to early 1960s, Gus Bell is the father of former All-Star third baseman Buddy Bell and grandfather of current star second baseman Jay Bell. |
An All-Star in his own-right, Gus Bell playing with the Cincinnati Reds from 1954 thru 1957 hit 30, 17, 27 and 29 home runs, scored 102, 104, 88 and 82 runs, collected 105, 101, 104 and 84 RBIs, while stringing together years of batting .300, .299, .308 and .292.
Our firstname.lastname@example.org says, "Gus Bell... Oh, sure! He was one of baseball's top stars in the '50 and 60s. A big homerun hitter for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds."
Gus Bell was an intense team leader with a will-to-win desire and was one of the main men of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds during his playing days. Born in Louisville, Kentucky on November 15, 1928, he opened his major league career with the Pirates in 1950 after starring in the minors with Keokuk, Iowa of the Central Association in 1947. In 1950 at Indianapolis he was hitting .400 six weeks into the season, when although only 21 years-old, he was called up by the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he performed admirably, hitting .282, with 53 RBIs in 111 games, including 22 doubles, 11 triples and 8 HR.
Another strong season followed (1951) as the fleet-footed youngster lined 27 Ds, led the NL with 12 triples, and belted 16 homers, with 89 RBIs and hit for the cycle on June 12. In a foot race, the center-fielder out ran all of his teammates.
However, reeking with confidence the next season, trouble with management developed during spring training. Gus Bell insisted that his family travel with him during the spring, but Pirates' general manager Branch Rickey said he should travel alone and by train. "Rickey took a dislike for me because I refused to be one of his hungry ballplayers," said Bell, who was promptly shipped to the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League. He was brought back up to the Pirates in the middle of May and hit 16 home runs during the reminder of the season.
He was traded by on October 14, 1952 to the Cincinnati Reds for outfielders Cal Abrams and Gail Henley and catcher Joe Rossi in what was one of the worst trades ever by Branch Rickey.
The muscular 6'2", 195 lbs. Bell sparkled on defense, ran the bases well, and hit a career high of 37 doubles and 30 homers in 1953, his first season with the Reds. He made the All-Star team in 1953, 1954, 1956 and 1957, and became every young boy's hero by belting three homers, with 8 RBIs in a single game on September 21, 1955.
In 1956, the National League pennant race was creating sensational headline news as the Reds battled all-season-long with the Brooklyn Dodgers and Milwaukee Braves. The Reds assaulted their opponents pitching staffs with their power bats... Bell, now playing right-field hit 29 homers, first baseman Ted Kluszewski hit 35, rookie outfielder Frank Robinson crashed 38, Outfielder Wally Post 36 and catcher Ed Bailey chipped in with 28.
As a fact, the Reds assaulted NL pitchers and tied a major league record with 221 home runs, equaling the mark set by 1947 New York Giants.
Although disappointed by not winning the pennant, the Reds won over 90 games and finished the season at 91-63 in the tightest race in baseball history - only two games separated the top three teams.
FINAL STANDINGS 1956 - Brooklyn Dodgers 93-61 ... Milwaukee Braves 92-62, 1 GB... Cincinnati Reds 91-63, 2 GB
Gus Bell was winding down his big league career when he was selected by New York Mets in the expansion draft in October of 1961.
During spring training '62, Casey Stengel, the Mets manager, was filming a promotional gig in which he which he was going over the Mets' new lineup. Stengel, who often couldn't remember names of his players, stuttered in classic "Stengelesse" and remarked, "We got five or six fellas that's doing very good. And the best played for Hornsby in Cincinnati, bats left-handed, and hit .300, done very good. Delighted to have him, is married, has seven kids in the station wagon he drives down here from Cincinnati where he lives," - on and on went the "Old" Perfessor, remembering everything except Bell's name.
Finally as Stengel rambled on and declared, "if he can hit for us like he hit for the Reds, he'd ring the bell" --- "and that's his name - Gus Bell!"
A star-player who always put his family first, the aging Gus Bell singled for the Mets' "first-ever hit" on Opening Day. Hitting only .149 towards the end of May '62, he was sold to the Milwaukee Braves - his last year in the majors.
David Russell Bell... nicknamed "Gus" after former Giants' catcher Gus Mancuso.
Gus Bell... Lifetime Stats - .281 BA, in 6478 at bats in 1741 Games, 1823 Hits, 311 Ds, 66 Ts, 206 HR, 865 Runs, 942 RBIs, 636 Ks, 470 Ws, .333 on-base-pct. and a 445 slug/pct. baseballhistorian.com - Archives - All Rights Reserved
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