Monday, October 14, 2013

MLB Umpire Wally Bell Dead at 48

WB Patch for Wally Bell21-year MLB veteran umpire Wally Bell has died of a heart ailment, which has been updated to be a heart attack suffered while at a Youngstown area hospital. Bell was in town after attending the weekend's Austintown Fitch Hall of Fame Dinner. Bell was 48 years old. Throughout the 2013 postseason and 2014 regular and postseason, umpires will wear the memorial WB patch in Bell's honor.

Wally Bell officiated over 2,750 MLB games.
Born January 10, 1965 in Ravenna, Ohio, Bell (sleeve number 35) graduated from the Joe Brinkman Umpire School in 1984 and joined the Major League staff in 1992, appointed as a National League umpire. After working his first MLB All-Star game in 1997, Bell officiated his first Division Series in 1998, first Championship Series in 2000 and World Series in 2006. Having worked the 2013 World Baseball Classic final round in San Francisco, All-Star Game and NL Division Series between the Cardinals and Pirates, Bell was on track for a potential return to the Fall Classic.

After Monday's Cardinals-Dodgers game in Los Angeles, NLCS crew chief Gerry Davis spoke on behalf of his crew: "It was a devastating loss for us. Wally was a true umpire's umpire. I think if you'll check with the players and teams they felt the same way because Wally always gave 110 percent on the field."
Video: Cardinals-Dodgers hold a moment of silence at Dodger Stadium prior to Game 4 (TBS)

"We had to regroup rather quickly and put our concentration where it needed to be. We kept telling each other that that's the way Wally would have wanted it, and we know that that's really true. One of the things that we shared in the locker room afterwards is that I'm sure he's very proud right now."

Video: Davis & MLB EVP of Baseball Operations Joe Torre's press conference regarding Bell's passing

After LA's 3-0 victory over St. Louis, Dodgers catcher AJ Ellis stepped back from the celebration to offer perspective and reflect: "Fun team win 2nite but thoughts and prayers are with family and other umpires grieving loss of Wally Bell...Wally kept game fun and loose and I always looked forward to catching with him behind plate. I will miss his personality and professionalism."

Meanwhile, in the Boston-Detroit ALCS, crew chief Joe West, president of the World Umpires Association said, "Wally was a great umpire, a great partner and a great friend. The umpiring community is deeply saddened by this tragic loss. He will be sorely missed by many."

Boston pitcher Jake Peavy wrote: "Just heard the news & devastated about the passing of Wally Bell. A great umpire, a great man" while Shane Victorino added, "My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Wally Bell. So sad to hear (and) will remember him tomorrow as I take the field."

Jose Bautista remembered Bell's ebullient personality: "He always had great spirits on the field, i will always remember how he teased me about my beard."

MLB.com's Cut4 captured additional thoughts in "The 140 Club": "Players mourn the loss of Wally Bell."

Added fellow umpire John Hirschbeck: "He was like to a son to me, my wife Denise, very dear friend. It’s devastating. Wally was one of the first to call me and congratulate me on working the World Series."

Bell is the first MLB umpire to die while on the active roster since John McSherry, who passed away of a heart attack during Opening Day 1996 in Cincinnati and first active pro official to die since Greg Willard of the NBA.

Bell, who volunteered for the American Heart Association and officiated high school basketball during the winter offseason, returned to baseball after undergoing open heart surgery in 1999. Bell is survived by his children Jason Patrick (8/10/99) and Lindsey Jane (9/27/00), two brothers and a sister.

13 comments :

Gil Imber said...

Wow.

Gil Imber said...

That is absolutely heartbreaking to hear. So very sad. May he rest in peace.

Gil Imber said...

Wow, that is horrible to hear. I thought he was deserving of a World Series assignment this year and was on my short list of potential crew chiefs with John Hirschbeck talking about retiring after this season

Gil Imber said...

Wow absolutely shocked!! Prayers for his family both biological and his umpiring family! Absolutely shocking!!

Gil Imber said...

I just found this terrible news on this blog a few minutes ago . I had the same heart surgery three days before Wally . I am 60 and I am having a bad case of survivors guilt . He was a great umpire who had many years ahead for him I am sure he was going to be the next crew chief. I wonder if the umpires in la have been told about Wally. There should be a moment of silence in la and Detroit tomorrow. The umpire should be wearing the number 35 On their uniforms.

Gil Imber said...

My heart goes out to Wally and his family and friends. He could have quit after undergoing open heart surgery in 1999 but did not and had a very succesful career. I think he may have been 1 of the 6 picked for the World Series. It is a real shame to hear about this, MLB lost one of the good ones Tonight. RIP #35 : (

Gil Imber said...

That's a shame. The fact that he was the same age as me really hits home. I heard that he had undergone heart surgery more than a decade ago. Mid-30's is incredibly young to have problems that severe unless there was some other underlying factor.

Gil Imber said...

I was very shocked to come to the site and see this headline. My condolences to Wally's friends, family and colleagues. He seemed like a good guy and was a good umpire. He had one of the highest percentage of correct calls behind the plate during the most recent Division Series, which showed what kind of umpire he was. RIP

Gil Imber said...

One thing you can say about Torre is that he LEARNS. When he started this job, he was pretty much going to change EVERYthing...but as he has seen close up what these guys do, how they go about doing it, and what they have to go through day in and day out, he has come to understand what being an umpire is like. Something some more of our more vocal posters here should know/realize...

Gil Imber said...

I think that John Hirschebeck wearing in 2014 the number 35, pay tribute to the
Wally Bell, the great guy, second brother.

Gil Imber said...

This video shows the respect had for Wally Bell. Heard from many he was great man.

http://wapc.mlb.com/play/?content_id=24157405

Gil Imber said...

Wally was scheduled to be an instructor at our local HS umpire camp this coming January. I have always respected Bell and thought he was great...I was excited to get meet him. It is a shame that many of our new umpires won't get to meet him or learn from one of the best in the game. Rest In Peace Wally...the Field of Dreams will welcome you!

Gil Imber said...

I went to high school with wally and his brother will. Very sorry to hear this ....he was a good guy.

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