- DH, LF, OF, RF, 3B, 2B
- October 21, 1959
- 6' 1"
- 190 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 4-09-1981 with TOR
- Allstar Selections:
- 1985 SS, 1986 SS, 1987 ML, 1987 MVP, 1987 SS
Hailing from the Dominican Republic's baseball hotbed, San Pedro de Macoris, George Bell became a slugger for the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1980s. He hit 20 or more homers wight times, peaking with 47 in 1987 when he won the American League Most Valuable Player Award. A three-time All-Star, Bell teamed with Llotd Moseby and Jesse Barfield on one of the best outfields in history.
Bell was discovered in the Dominican Republic by Philadelphia Phillies 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 that clinched the division title for the Blue Jays. Despite Bell's .321 average in the ALCS, they lost 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 2 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 the Major Leagues 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. Bell became a free agent after the 1990 season and signed with the Cubs. After one year with the Cubs, he was traded 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 fans 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."
On May 28, 1989, while with the Blue Jays, Bell hit a walkoff 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, and Paul Beeston.
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- George Bell