Sad news coming out of Ohio on Monday night: Wally Bell, who just finished working the Cardinals-Pirates NLDS series last week, has passed away of an apparent heart attack, according to the Youngtown Vindicator.
“One on my dearest friends,” fellow umpire John Hirschbeck told Youngstown’s WFMJ. “We worked together for 11 years. 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 had spent 21 years as a major league ump, handling one World Series, four LCSs and seven LDSs. According to his MLB.com bio, his proudest moment as a major league ump was returning to the field following open heart surgery in 1999.
“All of us at Major League Baseball are in mourning tonight regarding the sudden passing of Wally Bell,” said commissioner Bud Selig in a statement. “I always enjoyed seeing Wally, who was a terrific umpire and such an impressive young man. On behalf of our 30 clubs, I extend my deepest condolences to Wally’s family, fellow umpires and his many friends throughout the game.”
Bell was behind the plate for Game 2 of last week’s NLDS game in St. Louis, a 6-1 win for the Pirates. He was never involved in any major controversies, which alone suggests he did his job pretty well.
According to Wikipedia, he leaves behind two children.
Sad to hear about the passing of MLB umpire Wally Bell. Thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends…
— Brad Ziegler (@BradZiegler) October 15, 2013
R.I.P. Wally Bell. Was one of my favorite umpires in the game.
— Jeremy Affeldt (@JeremyAffeldt) October 15, 2013
Thoughts and prayers go out to Wally Bells family and friend! He's gonna be missed, awesome individual! #RIPWallyBell
— Dexter Fowler (@DexterFowler24) October 15, 2013
Wally Bell was a wonderful man! A true professional. Prayers go out to his family. He will be missed.
— AJ Burnett (@wudeydo34) October 15, 2013